NASA forming of Hurricane Alex first since 1938
According to the National Hurricane Center, Alex is the first hurricane to form in the month of January since 1938. Alex is also the first North Atlantic hurricane thriving in January since Alice of 1955, which formed on Dec. 30, 1954. Alice developed on December 30, 1954 from a trough of low pressure in the central Atlantic Ocean in an area of unusually favorable conditions.
The low pressure area known as System 90L developed rapidly since Jan. 13 and became Hurricane Alex on Jan. 14. Several satellites and instruments captured data on this out-of-season storm. NASA's RapidScat instrument observed sustained winds shift and intensify in the system and NASA's Aqua satellite saw the storm develop from a low pressure area into a sub-tropical storm. NOAA's GOES-East satellite data was made into an animation that showed the development of the unusual storm.
Early on Jan. 13 (left) NASA's RapidScat instrument saw the strongest sustained winds near 27 meters per second (60.4 mph/97.2 kph) northwest of center. Eight hours later strongest sustained winds near 30 mps (67.1 mph/108 kph) shifted east of center.
By 1500 UTC (10 a.m. EST) on January 14, hurricane force winds extended outward up to 25 miles (35 km) from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 150 miles (240 km).
Video of Hurricane Alex courtesy of NASA
The Azores Meteorological Service has issued a Hurricane Warning for the islands of Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa, and Terceira in the central Azores, and a Tropical Storm Warning for the islands of Sao Miguel and Santa Maria in the eastern Azores. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa, and Terceira in the central Azores and a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for Sao Miguel and Santa Maria in the eastern Azores.
At 10 a.m. EST (1500 UTC), the National Hurricane Center said that the center of Hurricane Alex was located near latitude 31.5 North, longitude 28.4 West. Alex was moving toward the north-northeast near 20 mph (31 kph) and a turn toward the north with an increase in forward speed is expected over the next day or two. On the forecast track, the center of Alex will move near or over portions of the Azores Friday morning, Jan. 15.
NHC's Forecaster Pasch said "Remarkably, Alex has undergone the transformation into a hurricane. A distinct eye is present, embedded within a fairly symmetric mass of deep convection. It is very unusual to have a hurricane over waters that are near 20 degrees Celsius, but the upper-tropospheric temperatures are estimated to be around -60 degrees Celsius, which is significantly colder than the tropical mean. The resulting instability is likely the main factor contributing to the tropical transition and intensification of Alex."
Alex is expected to maintain hurricane status on Friday, Jan. 15 and transition into an extra-tropical storm by Jan. 16 as it continues to move north toward Greenland.
Credit to NASA & Hurriccane Center