Tropical Storm Alex has formed in the Atlantic ocean. It is not entirely unprecedented to have a tropical storm form totally off season like this, but it is very rare. This happened mainly because of record high sea surface temperatures in the region.
The sea surface temperature is not enough to make a hurricane. But you know what they say about the weather -- under conditions of global warming -- wait a few years and that will happen.
Increasingly the world's oceans are losing track of their tropical storm seasons. Expect a future where tropical cyclones (hurricanes, etc.) can form over a much larger area and across a much longer range of time.
I usually don't post this until June or so, but since the first storm of the year happened about six months early ... this is the list of storm names for the Atlantic Basin, staring with the one currently in use.
Alex is not expected to turn into a hurricane.
In your nearby article you say the Central Pacific’s Hurricane Pali formed due partly to “high sea surface temperatures because of global warming”.
However, I understand hurricane activity in the Atlantic has been well below average for at least a decade. Why would this be, given constant and increasing global warming?
And 2015 seemed like another dud:
“While the number of named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes was only a little below the long-term average activity… many of the named storms were relatively weak and short-lived. As a result, in terms of Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE), which measures the combined strength and duration of tropical storms and hurricanes, activity in the Atlantic basin for the season was only about 63 percent of the 1981-2010 median. This makes 2015 a below-average season in terms of ACE.”
Alex is in a location where it's unusual to see tropical cyclones at any time of year. Most tropical cyclones at that longitude are either spinning up from tropical waves passing well to the south, or recurved storms passing well to the north. The storm is predicted to move through the Azores tonight and tomorrow, then lose tropical characteristics as it moves north toward Greenland.
Despite your suggestion to the contrary above, Alex is now a category 1 hurricane:
A hurricane warning has been issued for the Azores.
"However, I understand hurricane activity in the Atlantic has been well below average for at least a decade. Why would this be, given constant and increasing global warming?"
Long term, Atlantic basin activity is elevated and expected to increase. Hurricane frequency esp. in a small basin like the Atlantic is highly stochastic, so I can see why someone might make an incorrect statement like you've made.
There are numerous factors that determine hurricane formation and survival. SST is the main one, there are others. AGW has also led to increased Saharan dust and vert. wind shear in some seasons, which has attenuated the last few atlantic seasons quite a bit.
Eric, yes indeed. This is actually a tropical storm forming outside the tropics.
Jim, I'm pretty sure that was not expected!
To Greg #4:
“…I can see why someone might make an incorrect statement like you’ve made.”
What was incorrect about my statement?
I said nothing about “long term”, only about the last decade or so.
Are you denying that hurricane activity is below average for the last decade? Are you denying the quote from NOAA?
Greg - Anticipated or not, tThe by now ex Hurricane Alex is currently hurrying towards Greenland, and the UK Met Office explain that he:
Is adding extra complications to the computer models that generate the forecast for the weather.
See Noevo - Have you by any chance investigated cyclonic activity in the Pacific last year? Here's just one example for you: