Remarkably, Alex has undergone the transformation into a hurricane. It’s the first hurricane to form in the month of January since 1938, and the first hurricane to be present in this month since Alice of 1955. (Alice formed in late December 1954 and carried over into January 1955.) Alex’s maximum sustained winds are near 85 mph (140 km/h) with higher gusts – a Category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Little change in strength through Friday is forecast.
At 1100 a.m. AST (1500 UTC), the center of Hurricane Alex was located about 490 miles south of Faial Island in the Central Azores, moving toward the north-northeast near 20 mph (31 km/h). A turn toward the north with an increase in forward speed is expected over the next day or two. On the forecast track, the center of Alex will move near or over portions of the Azores Friday morning.
The Azores Meteorological Service has issued a Hurricane Warning for the islands of Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge, Graciosa, and Terceira in the central Azores, and a Tropical Storm Warning for the islands of Sao Miguel and Santa Maria in the eastern Azores.
Tropical-storm-force winds are expected to begin over portions of the Azores tonight. Hurricane conditions are expected to spread over the central Azores by early Friday. Wind speeds atop and on the windward sides of hills and mountains are often up to 30 percent stronger than the near-surface winds indicated in this advisory, and in some elevated locations could be even greater.
Alex is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 5 inches over the Azores through Friday, with possible isolated maximum amounts of 7 inches. These rains could produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides. A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce significant coastal flooding near and to the east of the center of Alex. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive waves.
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