Saturday, January 9, 2016

Tropical Storms In January? Very Odd

In the Northern Hemisphere, you pretty much never get tropical storms, hurricanes or typhoons in January.
Widespread clouds and storminess well off the East Coast of the United
States could evolve into a subtropical storm in several days
as it continues heading east and south.

These storms thrive on warm ocean temperatures and light jet stream winds high above any would-be tropical system.

In January, the oceans tend to be too cool, the jet stream too strong to get much of anything going.  

But there are exceptions, and this year is one.

Much of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean is unusually warm, thanks in large part to El Nino. That allowed a rare tropical storm named Pali to form about 1,000 miles southwest of Hawaii.

Pali is no threat to land, and will fall apart soon. But it is an emphatic bookend to perhaps the most active eastern and central Pacific hurricane season on record.

Meanwhile, there's potential trouble in the Atlantic, too.

There's a large storm, centered a little north of Bermuda, packing winds of up to 65 mph. It's not a tropical storm. It's a more typical strong, winter type storm that is common in the North Atlantic in January.

However, this one could move southeastward and head out over warmer Atlantic waters. Water that is even warmer than normal for this time of year.

If that happens, this storm could take on what is called subtropical characteristics.

A normal winter storm has a cold core. A tropical storm has a warm one. A subtropical storm, like what the Atlantic Ocean one might turn into, would retain some characteristics of a "normal" storm, but develop a warm core, with tropical thunderstroms spinning around that toasty center.

The National Hurricane Center says if this becomes a subtropical or even tropical storm, it would be named Alex. Normally, hurricane and tropical storm season starts June 1, so this would be very odd.

This one poses no immediate threat to land.

There have been a handful of tropical and subtropical storms in January over the Atlantic Ocean.

In modern history, there have been no fewer than five tropical or subtropical storms in the Atlantic in January. Two were holdovers from the previous December, but three actually formed in January.

At least one, Alice, which formed in December, 1954 briefly became a full-fledged hurricane in early January, 1955.

As I said, though. This situation, if it develops is rare. It's certainly a stormy winter anyway in the Northern Hemisphere, and these tropical or potential subtropical storms are adding to that mix

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