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.