U.S. Coast Guard photograph by Petty Officer 2nd Class NyxoLyno Cangemi
Ten years ago this August, Katrina submerged parts of New Orleans and lashed other parts of the Gulf Coast, causing an estimated $108 billion in damage. Above, Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Shawn Beaty, 29, of Long Island, N.Y., looks for survivors in New Orleans. The Atlantic hurricane season kicked off June 1, and while the National Weather Service forecasts a relatively quiet one, it only takes one strong hurricane to devastate lives. Here we look at some of the worst storms to ever make landfall in the United States.Quiet Hurricane Season Ahead, 10 Years After Katrina
A large wave slams into two women at the Key West pier as Hurricane Dennis brushes the Florida coast on July 8, 2005. Dennis hit the Panhandle as a Category 3 storm with winds of 120 mph.Can You Stop a Hurricane By Nuking It?
A file photo shows a damaged street in Galveston, Texas, after a deadly hurricane caught the 38,000 residents by surprise on Sept. 8, 1900. Flooding had occurred before and many residents didn't realize a ferocious hurricane was about to claim 8,000 lives and almost wipe the prosperous port city off the map.Hurricane Machine Aims to Improve Forecasts
An early morning view from the International Space Station, shows Hurricane Charley centered south of western Cuba over the Cayman Islands in the northwest Caribbean Sea on Aug. 12, 2004. Charley, a category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 145 miles per hour, swept through the west coast of Florida 13 August leaving millions of dollars in damage in its wake.Mysterious Northeast Floods Caused By Weird Winds
A woman in Miami looks up through where her roof should be at a passing helicopter. Hurricane Andrew arrived in late August, 1992, devastating Florida in what was a relatively quiet hurricane season -- only 7 named storms.
A home cut in half by Hurricane Sandy stands on the waterfront in Union Beach, N.J., after a surge hit the city causing massive destruction. The storm battered the New Jersey coast, flooded parts of New York and caused billions of dollars of damage. Hurricane Sandy last year became the 77th Atlantic storm name to be retired by the World Meteorological Organization.Thought Sandy Was Bad? Revisit This 1821 Hurricane
Jim Reed Photography - Severe & /Corbis
Waves explode over a seawall and into Galveston, Texas, as Hurricane Ike approaches on Sept. 12, 2008. Ike barreled into the densely populated Texas coast near Houston early the next day, bringing with it a wall of water and ferocious winds and rain that flooded large areas along the Gulf of Mexico.When Earth Attacks: Photos
January was already shaping up to be a weird month, what with a hurricane out in the Pacific, but it just got weirder: Say hello to Hurricane Alex, a rare January storm in the Atlantic and the first storm of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season.
A season that doesn’t officially begin until June 1.
Alex is the first such storm to form in January since 1978 and only the fourth January storm formation on record going back to 1851. The climatological average first date for the first named storm in a season is July 9.
While it’s decidedly not hurricane season, the official June 1-Nov. 30 dates of that season are artificial ones, chosen because they encompass the bulk of tropical cyclone activity. But when conditions are right, storms can, and do, form outside of those bounds.
Alex formed from a system that first developed in the warm waters off the east coast of Florida last week and has tracked eastward across the ocean, gradually becoming stronger and more organized.
On Wednesday, it was finally pulled-together enough that the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami officially designated it a subtropical storm. This is a hybrid type of storm that has some of the attributes of a tropical cyclone, which have a warm core and derive their energy from convective clouds, and the type of frontal system, or extratropical cyclone, we typically see sweep across the country.
Alex was likely able to form because the prevailing winds in the area were fairly favorable, said hurricane expert Philip Klotzbach of Colorado State University.
Forecasters don’t expect Alex to strengthen over the coming days as it moves northward over increasingly colder waters. It is expected to be fully extratropical by the time it reaches the Azores, though its winds will still pack a punch and it could drop heavy rains that could lead to flooding.
Such an early storm doesn’t tell forecasters anything about any further pre-season storm activity or how the season itself may turn out.
“These types of oddball systems happen from time to time,” Klotzbach said in an email, adding that there were likely January storms that were missed prior to the satellite era, and possible even since their advent.
Meanwhile, over in the Pacific, Pali is still a hurricane and has come within just a few degrees of the equator, an exceedingly rare feat for a tropical cyclone. Only two other storms have been stronger closer to the equator, according to Klotzbach.
Pali is expected to weaken back to a tropical storm over the next few days and doesn’t pose any threats to land.
But while both storms are still going, the NHC and the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Hawaii are both issuing advisories on storms in January for the first time in their history. Like we said, a weird month.
More From Climate Central:
A Hurricane? In January? You Can Thank El Niño
Winter Surprise: Rare Tropical Cyclones Form in January
A Tale of Two Hurricane Seasons: Atlantic vs. Pacific
This article originally appeared on Climate Central, all rights reserved.