In an unprecedented event, two hurricanes have formed at the same time in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the month of January, with the Pacific storm, breaking a record as such, and also exhibiting an unusual proximity to the equator. This is also the first time on record that off-season hurricanes have formed in both the Atlantic and Pacific in the same year; to have both form in the same month adds to the extreme unusuality of the event.
The first named Atlantic storm of the season, Alex, was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane this morning. Alex is only the third January hurricane on record, and only the second to have formed within the month of January. Thankfully, Alex is a mid-Atlantic storm, and isn’t expected to make landfall on either side of the Atlantic, but will continue northward toward Greenland, where it is expected to lose strength.
Hurricane Pali, having already peaked as a Category 2 hurricane, is currently southwest of Hawai’i and headed south. Pali is especially unusual, in that the Pacific hurricane season does not start until June 1, and as of it’s designation as a Category 1 hurricane on Monday, it became the earliest-formed hurricane on record in the Central Pacific. As of this morning, Pali has been downgraded back to a tropical storm, but along with it’s extremely odd timing, it has also set another record, having traveled closer to the equator than any other Northern Hemisphere cyclone.
“We generally don’t see systems this far south. There are no records of any systems crossing the equator,” explains meteorologist Bob Burke, speaking for the Honolulu office of the National Weather Service. The timing of the storms is being attributed to high temperatures in both oceans, with a record-breaking El Niño being experienced in the Pacific.