Updated 10:07 AM EST, Sat, Dec 15, 2018

Rare Hurricane in the Atlantic Blamed for El Nino Phenomenon

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Weather companies are closely monitoring Hurricane Alex as it threads through the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, causing the unusually intense El Niño phenomenon to move toward North and South America.

According to CNN, winter storm Alex was officially declared as a hurricane by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) as it approaches Portuga's southern islands of Azores with maximum sustained winds reaching 80 miles per hour.

As of 10 PM on Thursday, authorities have warned residents in the islands of Pico, Faial, Graciosa, Sao Jorge, and Terceira to take precautionary measures as Hurricane Alex approaches.

Other islands in the Azores that have been put under storm warnings include San Miguel and Santa Maria.

NHC forecasts landfall on the islands on Friday, packing waves of up to 18 meters or 60 feet high, and wind gusts measured at 160 kilometers per hour, BBC reported.

While the group of islands is just 2,300 miles from the United States and about 900 miles from Europe, CNN notes that weather companies do not expect Hurricane Alex to directly affect the continents.

Forecasters believe the hurricane is northbound, towards Greenland.

AccuWeather notes that Alex is the first Atlantic hurricane to form in the winter season since 1938.

"Alex formed in the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday, making it one of the earliest tropical systems to form in the Atlantic Hurricane Basin since records began in 1851," an article from the site explained.

Aside from this, Hurricane Alex is also one of two storms that have formed with unusual timing, considering that the Atlantic hurricane season typically begins on June 1 and runs through November 30.

Furthermore, BBC noted that Alex and one other tropical storm in the Pacific, known as 'Pali,' caused very strong winds and high sea surface temperature that may be the reason why this year's El Niño phenomenon would be more intense.

While it may be a natural and regularly occurring weather episode, the El Niño phenomenon will be even stronger than the recorded effects when it occurred in 2015 which, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) as cited by the outlet, is already considered one of the three most severe El Niño warming phases since 1950.

Furthermore, Hurricane Alex's strength is unusually high, considering that the winter season is particularly cold in the month of January.

A weather expert connected to CNN explained that most tropical storms gain strength over warm waters.

However, the outlet noted that the air is also atypically cold, which may be the reason behind Hurricane Alex's rare strength.

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