Hurricane Alex: First January hurricane since 1938

Courtesy: NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

Courtesy: NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

“This image was taken by GOES East at 1445Z on January 14, 2016. Alex is not just the first named storm for the 2016 calendar year. It’s also the first named storm to form in the Atlantic in January since 1978, the first January-born hurricane since 1938, and just the fourth known storm to arrive in the month since records began in 1851.”

In other words, this doesn’t happen often, but January’s Hurricane Alex is not unprecedented.  It does have some very unique characteristics, though:

Alex won’t have any direct impact on the weather in the United States, but tropical systems do have a way of indirectly impacting the weather down the line.  A tropical cyclone moving north toward Greenland as this one is forecast to do brings a lot of tropical warmth toward the pole.  That should help build a large “blocking” ridge over Greenland keeping cold air locked in over the eastern US through the first part of next week.

Animation showing the big red/pink block building as heat from Alex gets infused (images from WeatherBell):

output_2SOHSt

We have several surges of cold weather coming down the line through next week.

7 DAY PM 2016 INT SingleThe first arrives this weekend, a more substantial push of cold air blows in Sunday night keeping temperatures some 15-20ºF below “average” by Monday and Tuesday.

The front actually moves through Sunday night, and temperatures really take a nose dive (to the teens) by Monday morning.

That looks like the coldest air mass for a while, but cold, dense air is hard to move.  It should stay on the cold side of average for most of next week.

A weak storm system passing by Tuesday night into Wednesday7 DAY PM 2016 INT Single2 could bring some sprinkles or snow flurries, but a more substantial rain-maker develops by Thursday and Friday on the boundary between the cold to the north and the milder air to the south.

At this point, we expect mainly rain, but we will still be close enough to the colder air to be mindful that some small changes on the map could make for some big changes in the weather down here at the ground.  Get the full picture of how the next week shapes up in the Forecast Discussion at WHNT.com.

-Jason
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