On Jan. 13, 2016, the non-tropical low-pressure system that started on Jan. 7, in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean, has officially brewed into Subtropical Storm Alex. Located less than 1000 miles west of Portugal, the rare subtropical storm is forecast to move northeast and north through the Eastern Atlantic Ocean over the next few days as it heads toward the Azores islands.
The National Hurricane Center warns that strong winds and heavy rainfall may hit the Azores islands within the next few days. No official storm warnings have been issued at this time.
Subtropical Storm Alex shows attributes of both tropical and non-tropical systems as it heads toward the Azores islands. It harbors a broad wind field and no cold or warm fronts. Low-topped thunderstorms stem from the storm’s center. Over time, this rare storm could grow into a tropical squall or dwindle down to a non-tropical low-pressure system.
According to the National Hurricane Center, a subtropical storm has not formed in January since 1978. Alex marks the fourth subtropical storm in January since 1851.
On Jan. 8, The Royal Gazette reported 59 mph winds near Bermuda, causing intermittent power failures and suspended air travel. The high surf and strong winds have also created a hazard to marine vessels and warnings have been issued.
The official Atlantic hurricane season typically runs from the beginning of June to the end of November. Storms have formed before and after these dates, but having one form this early in January is rare. On average, a tropical storm brews before June once every ten years. According to The Weather Channel, the cause of these early storm systems is due to the rare weather conditions resulting from El Niño.
Another rare Tropical Storm Pali, heads toward Hawaii, making January a bit of an anomaly in the history of hurricanes. The next few days will determine how close Subtropical Storm Alex will come to the Azores islands.
The Public Slate will provide updates as they become available.
By Rowena Portch
Edited By Cathy Milne
The Weather Channel: Subtropical Storm Alex Forms, Giving the Atlantic Hurricane Season a Rare January Start
The Royal Gazette: Subtropical Storm Alex
Image Courtesy of Kim Hill’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License