BLOG: Apparently Hurricane Season got underway this past week - | WBTV Charlotte

BLOG: Apparently Hurricane Season got underway this past week

(Credit: NOAA) (Credit: NOAA)
(Credit: NOAA) (Credit: NOAA)
(Credit: National Hurricane Center) (Credit: National Hurricane Center)

After a very warm and wet December, the new year brought a starkly new pattern to the Eastern US including the Carolinas.  A much colder and snowier pattern exploded across the region giving the mountains a late and badly needed kick-start to the ski season.  With all the focus on winter weather racing into the region, nobody could have imagined a hurricane was brewing in the Atlantic Ocean.  Let’s not forget, hurricane season begins June 1st, so yeah, this was just a tad early!  

Say hello to Hurricane Alex!  Unlike most tropical cyclones, Alex had its roots in the western Atlantic near the Bahamas and drifted eastward (not westward) across the ocean.  Alex peaked as a Category 1 Hurricane with winds of 85mph before weakening again to a Tropical Storm just before reaching the island of Terceira in the Azores early on Friday.  That’s in the far Eastern Atlantic.

You might be wondering the same thing I was, which is how on earth were the ocean temperatures still up near 80° which is the typical requirement for hurricane formation.  Turns out they weren’t, more like 68° - 70° which is only about 2°F above seasonal averages.  But that mild water combined with extremely cold air aloft (it is winter after all) was enough to promote the warmer air near the surface to start rising upward, creating a deeper area of lower pressure at the surface and initiating the cyclonic circulation.  

Yes this has happened before, but it’s extremely rare!  The only other hurricane to actually form in January was “Hurricane One” which formed January 4th, 1938.  Hurricane Alice formed December 31st, 1954 and carried over into January of 1955.  So Alex of 2016 is only the third hurricane to be recorded in the month of January since records began back in the mid 1800s.

You might enjoy the latest track of Alex as it continues to weaken.  If you don’t recognize the map, it’s because it’s so far north.  Yes, that’s Greenland near the Arctic Circle which is essentially one big block of ice.  

Let’s hope we’re not talking about Bonnie until the summer!

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