Enhanced satellite image (above) of of the first hurricane of 2016, named Alex and of category 1. Alex is also the first January hurricane since 1955 and the unusual location of its formation in the far eastern Atlantic near the Canary Islands and the Azores in relatively cool waters of 20-22ºC make this an exceptional weather event.
Alex’s unusual life as a January hurricane will be a short one. The system is already accelerating northward ahead of a strong upper-level trough, and by late Friday it should be a powerful post-tropical low racing toward Greenland.
The rare storm was about 900 miles W-NW of the Canary Islands at the time of writing, but it will not affect us much at all. Only with a bit of luck we might get some rain, but hardly any wind at all. A very different and potentially very dangerous scenario for the Azores, though - see latest NHC bulletin below:
HURRICANE ALEX ADVISORY NUMBER 4 NWS NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL012016 1100 AM AST THU JAN 14 2016 ...ALEX BECOMES A HURRICANE... ...HURRICANE WARNING ISSUED FOR THE AZORES... SUMMARY OF 1100 AM AST...1500 UTC...INFORMATION ----------------------------------------------- LOCATION...31.5N 28.4W ABOUT 490 MI...790 KM S OF FAIAL ISLAND IN THE CENTRAL AZORES MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS...85 MPH...140 KM/H PRESENT MOVEMENT...NNE OR 20 DEGREES AT 20 MPH...31 KM/H MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE...981 MB...28.97 INCHES WATCHES AND WARNINGS -------------------- CHANGES WITH THIS ADVISORY: 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. SUMMARY OF WATCHES AND WARNINGS IN EFFECT: A Hurricane Warning is in effect for... * Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa, and Terceira in the central Azores A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for... * Sao Miguel and Santa Maria in the eastern Azores For storm information specific to your area, please monitor products issued by your national meteorological service. DISCUSSION AND 48-HOUR OUTLOOK ------------------------------ At 1100 AM AST (1500 UTC), the center of Hurricane Alex was located near latitude 31.5 North, longitude 28.4 West. Alex is moving toward the north-northeast near 20 mph (31 km/h) 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. Maximum sustained winds are near 85 mph (140 km/h) with higher gusts. Little change in strength is forecast through Friday. Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 25 miles (35 km) from the center and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 150 miles (240 km). The estimated minimum central pressure is 981 mb (28.97 inches). HAZARDS AFFECTING LAND ---------------------- WIND: Tropical-storm-force winds are expected to begin over portions of the Azores tonight. Hurricane conditions are expected to spread over the central Azores by early Friday. Wind speeds atop and on the windward sides of hills and mountains are often up to 30 percent stronger than the near-surface winds indicated in this advisory, and in some elevated locations could be even greater. RAINFALL: Alex is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 5 inches over the Azores through Friday, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 7 inches. These rains could produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. STORM SURGE: A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding near and to the east of the center of Alex. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.