The National Hurricane Center upgraded a storm developing in the Atlantic Ocean to a hurricane, CNN reported Thursday. Hurricane Alex is now the first hurricane to brew in the Atlantic Ocean in January since 1938, and is the first Atlantic hurricane to exist in January since Hurricane Alice in 1955.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, however storms sometimes occur outside that time frame. A tropical storm reportedly forms before June about once every 10 years, which is the same rate for postseason formations. Alex appeared to have originally formed off the United States' southeast coast around Jan. 7, passing near Bermuda on its way to Europe, Newsmax reported.
“Gale-force winds from a swirling body of low pressure that passed north of Bermuda caused sporadic power outages, and had many wondering if hurricane season had somehow come back," the Royal Gazette previously reported.
— BBC Weather (@bbcweather) January 14, 2016
With winds of 85 mph, Hurricane Alex is headed north-northeast at 20 mph toward the Azores islands, located about 850 miles west of Portugal, USA Today reported. A hurricane warning has been issued for several islands in the central Azores including Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa and Terceira, as well as for Sao Miguel and Santa Maria, located in the eastern Azores. Conditions are expected to spread over the islands by Friday.
Alex is expected to produce 3 to 5 inches of rain over the Azores through Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center. The heavy rain “could produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides” and a storm surge is expected to yield substantial coastal flooding.
As of Thursday morning, there was no expectation that Alex will directly strike the U.S. or mainland Europe; it was predicted to head north, approaching Greenland early Sunday morning.