Weather Channel reports a rare January start to 2016 Atlantic hurricane season

Hurricane 1By Lynn R. Mitchell

A potential hurricane in January? The season usually begins in June but The Weather Channel reports a subtropical storm has formed in the Atlantic Ocean:

Subtropical Storm Alex has formed in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, giving the 2016 hurricane season a rare January start. The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, but storms have, on an occasional basis, formed before and after that date.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Alex is the first tropical or subtropical storm to form in January since 1978. It’s also only the fourth known storm to form in January since records began in 1851.

Based on the long-term average, about once every 10 years, a tropical storm forms before June, most often in the month of May. This includes Tropical Storm Ana, which began as a subtropical storm in early May of 2015, eventually transitioning into a tropical system.

Likewise, roughly once every 10 years, a tropical storm has formed in the month of December. Post-season and pre-season tropical systems are usually relatively weak, in part due to cooler sea-surface temperatures in the winter and spring months, limiting the ability for such storms to intensify.

This El Niño weather year is shaping up to be an unusual one, indeed.

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