Strong Atlantic and Pacific storms buckle long-term trends
Strong storms buckled trends in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in mid-January 2016, and many scientists pointed to climate change. Hurricane Alex was the first Atlantic hurricane to form in January in nearly a century, and the strongest January hurricane on record, and Hurricane Pali became the earliest named storm on record in the Central Pacific—storms of this magnitude usually begin to form in July.
Rare January hurricanes gained strength in near-record warm waters
Alex formed over waters that are usually not warm enough to support hurricane activity, but in January 2016 the waters were close to record high temperatures. Pali’s strength and early formation were also fed by much warmer than normal ocean temperatures in the Pacific. A combination of climate change and the 2015-2016 extreme El Nino event heated the waters and fueled the two storms, which one meteorologist said would have been a “vanishingly small probability more than 30 years ago.”