Out-of-season storm forms in the Atlantic Ocean
MIAMI – A subtropical storm has formed far out in the Atlantic Ocean and has been classified as the first named storm of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season. It is only the fourth named Atlantic storm to form in January in over 160 years.
Tropical Storm Alex, which began as a non-tropical low pressure system that passed Bermuda last week, formed yesterday afternoon south southwest of the Azores, a group of islands located 800-900 miles west of Portugal.
The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said Alex was carrying maximum sustained winds of 50 miles per hour and could produce strong winds and heavy rains over the Azores today and into tomorrow. But forecasters say by the time Alex reaches the Azores it may have transitioned back to a non-tropical low pressure system.
“Alex could retain its subtropical characteristics till as late as Friday, when it will be shooting northward toward Greenland en route to being absorbed in a high-latitude storm,” said Dr. Jeff Masters, Director of Meteorology at Weather Underground.
The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 to November 30, but storms have occasionally formed before and after that period.
According to the NHC, Alex is the fourth known storm, since 1851 when records began, to form in January.
Before making this historic appearance, however, Alex was just a non-tropical low pressure system located off the US southeast coast. On January 8, the low then passed near Bermuda and in the following days moved east and southeast through the Atlantic.
Since Tuesday, the low has taken on more characteristics of a subtropical storm – a storm that displays features of both tropical and non-tropical systems, including a broad wind field, no cold or warm fronts, and generally low-topped thunderstorms displaced from the center of the system.
Sometimes subtropical storms can become fully tropical over the course of time.