Alex is earliest hurricane to develop in Atlantic since 1938 - CBS46 News

Alex is earliest hurricane to develop in Atlantic since 1938

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

A rare January hurricane formed far out in the Atlantic, and it was the first hurricane to form in the month of January since 1938.

Alex was the first tropical system of 2016, forming nearly five months ahead of schedule. 

Alex developed as a subtropical storm in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, making it the first tropical or subtropical storm to develop as early as January since 1978.

Alex did not impact the United States. 

Waaay ahead of schedule

Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean is from June through the end of November each year, when conditions are more favorable for tropical development, putting the development of Alex four months ahead of schedule. 

While Alex is the first tropical or subtropical to develop in January since 1978, the earliest storm to ever develop was Storm One on Jan. 3, 1939.

What is a subtropical storm?

You'll notice Alex is called a "subtropical" storm instead of a tropical storm. Tropical storms are "warm water" systems that don't include fronts. Extratropical storms are the storms that develop in the U.S. and include cold and warm fronts -- on TV, you'll never hear "extratropical." We just call them "low pressure systems."

Simply put, a subtropical storm is basically a combination of them both. Like tropical storms, subtropical storms have a closed area of circulation at the surface, but are cooler and weaker than tropical storms. In fact, Alex started off the southeast coast of the U.S. before tracking into the Atlantic Ocean and eventually developing into a subtropical storm. 

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