Rare January hurricane forms in Atlantic, threatens Azores

Hurricane Alex, the first named storm of 2016, started to spin about 350 miles south of the islands Thursday afternoon.

Alex is the first January hurricane to form since 1938 and the first to occur in this month since Alice of 1955 according to the National Hurricane Center. The 1938 storm became a hurricane, the 1951 cyclone a tropical storm and the 1978 one a subtropical storm.

"The good news is that even though we have got a hurricane in January, that is not a harbinger of what the 2016 hurricane season will be like", he said.

"This is in a class by itself", he said.

Alex was first categorized as a "subtropical storm" but upon further intensification and organization, the National Hurricane Center re-classified the storm as a hurricane early Thursday morning. At the same time, the upper atmosphere in unusually cold.

So despite the ocean water temperatures being much colder than normally needed, the anomalously cold troposphere has generated enough instability for thunderstorms to thrive and allow a hurricane to form.

"Remarkably, Alex has undergone the transformation into a hurricane", National Hurricane Center forecasters wrote in a 10 a.m. update. Post-season and pre-season tropical systems are usually relatively weak, in part due to cooler sea-surface temperatures in the winter and spring months, limiting the ability for such storms to intensify.

A small eye formed in the system during early Thursday, local time.

Alex is only the third hurricane ever recorded in January in the Atlantic Ocean, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach. In the central Atlantic Ocean, Subtropical Storm Alex has formed with maximum winds of 60 miles per hour. Tropical Storm Zeta formed in December 30, 2005 and also lived until January 6.

Now that the weird weather of 2015 is past, well, Subtropical Storm Alex has just been named.

Rare Subtropical Storm Alex threatens Azores archipelago months ahead of season
Another storm, Alice, formed at the end of December, 1954, and dissipated a week later in 1955. Subtropical Storm Alex formed today in the eastern Atlantic, about 780 miles from the Azores.