RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – On Thursday, Alex has transformed from a semi-tropical system to a completely tropical system, as the center of Alex has strengthened from the relatively warm waters of the far eastern Atlantic.
Alex has produced winds of 85 miles per hour which makes it the first hurricane of 2016.
This is an extremely rare event. Alex is the first hurricane to from in January, since 1938. The 1938 hurricane was the only other January forming hurricane since historical records that began in 1851.
One other January hurricane was present in a January after forming in December, and that was in 1955.
As of late afternoon on Thursday, Alex is located about 330 miles south of the central Azores in the far eastern Atlantic. Alex is moving northeast at 23 miles per hour.
On this path, Alex is expected to move over the Azores early Friday morning producing three to five inches of rain over the Azores through Friday.
These rains may produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides. Near the coast, the storm surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.
By Friday afternoon, Hurricane Alex is expected to lose its tropical characteristics as it moves away from the Azores and over colder water.
Even though the official start of the Hurricane season isn’t until June 1, the next out of season storm or first in season storm will be named Bonnie.
Even though there should be no correlation, the 1938 season (which once again, was the only other time an Atlantic hurricane formed in January); had eight named storms and three hurricanes.
That would be a below normal year.
However, one major hurricane in September 1938 went right over Long Island and into New England.
This storm was passing by to the east of Cape Hatteras during the morning of the Sept. 21, 1938 then accelerated to a forward speed of 60 to 70 mph! The storm came ashore that afternoon over Long Island as a category 3 storm, producing winds of over 120 mph and gusts to over 180 mph.
By moving that fast, the storm struck with little warning and was responsible for 600 deaths in the United States.