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Could the first named tropical system of the season strengthen into a hurricane?

It is incredibly rare for the first named storm of a season to become a hurricane.
Credit: Michelle Morgan

NEW ORLEANS — The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1st and the first name on the list is Alex and statistically it could become a hurricane.

It is rare for the first named tropical system to become a hurricane but looking back at the last 20 years, every 6 years the first tropical named system has become a hurricane, and all were named Alex.

The lists of hurricane names for each season are chosen by the World Meteorological Organization and the National Hurricane Center recycles the list of names every six years.

If the named storm causes catastrophic damage the NHC retires the storm name, and another name would replace it on the list.

The storms named Alex did not cause extensive damages, so the name continued to be recycled every 6 years and has already been used 4 times.  

The first time the name Alex was used was in 1998 and it strengthened into a Tropical Storm. It formed on July 27th and dissipated on August 2nd. The storm formed near Cape Verde and eventually dissipated north of the Lesser Antilles. It was a weak storm with winds of 50 mph and affected no land.

In 2004, Hurricane Alex strengthened into a category 3 storm and reached its peak of 120 mph winds while off the coast of New England. It formed on July 31st and it dissipated on August 6th.The hurricane caused light damage in the Outer Banks from flooding and high winds. It continued to move over the Northern Atlantic over cooler waters and eventually dissipated.

In 2010, Hurricane Alex formed on June 25th then strengthened into a category 2 storm with winds of 110 mph. It slowly developed in the western Caribbean Sea and made landfall in Belize as a strong tropical storm. Then moved over the Yucatan Peninsula as a tropical storm and intensified into a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. It made landfall near Soto la Marina, Mexico as a category 2 hurricane. Once on land it quickly dissipated over Mexico on July 6th. There were 51 deaths.

In 2016, Hurricane Alex became a category 1 storm with winds of 85 mph and formed in mid-January (January 12-17). It made landfall in the Azores causing heavy rainfall and high winds. It was the first Atlantic hurricane to happen since Hurricane Alice which formed on December 30, 1955 and eventually dissipated on January 6, 1955.  

Looking back at the storms named Alex, statistically every 6 years, 75% of the storms have strengthened into a hurricane.

With an above-normal hurricane season forecasted, it makes you wonder if our first named storm will become a hurricane.  Well, we’ll just have to wait and see how strong Alex will be?

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