While many in the east are digging out from the snow storm that came through this week, another weather story is developing:
Remarkably, Alex has undergone the transformation into a hurricane.
A distinct eye is present, embedded within a fairly symmetric mass
of deep convection. Water vapor imagery shows that the upper-level
trough is now west of the cyclone, with divergent flow over the
center - indicative of a tropical transition. It is very unusual to
have a hurricane over waters that are near 20 deg C, but the
upper-tropospheric temperatures are estimated to be around -60 deg
C, which is significantly colder than the tropical mean. The
resulting instability is likely the main factor contributing to the
tropical transition and intensification of Alex. With these
changes, the government of the Azores has issued warnings for most
of the Azores islands.
Our last January hurricane was in 1958, with Hurricane Alice, which actually formed in December, and the last time a hurricane formed in January was an unnamed storm in 1938.
Looking at the track, there doesn't seem to be much threat from the storm, especially with predictions of it weakening as it hits the colder waters of the northern Atlantic.
Despite the low risk to land from Alex, it's hard to ignore the larger warning signs of what is happening with our climate.