The first hurricane to form in January since 1938 has been confirmed in the middle of the Atlantic.

Hurricane Alex has caused the Azores, a territory in Portugal, to issue the highest of its four weather alerts, indicating extreme risk, The Associated Press reported. Officials said residents should expect waves up to 60 feet high and wind gusts up to 100 mph.

It's also the first hurricane to appear in January since 1955 (Hurricane Alice formed in December and carried over).

"It is unlikely that Alex would have formed if these waters had been close to normal temperatures for this time of year," meteorologist Jeff Masters wrote on his blog Weather Underground. "The unusually warm waters for Alex were due, in part, to the high levels of global warming that brought Earth its warmest year on record in 2015. Global warming made Alex's formation much more likely to occur."


The Associated Press also indicated the cause may be linked to El Nino. An El Nino-related tropical storm formed southwest of Hawaii last week that was only the third such system to develop in January in over 40 years.

The Atlantic Hurricane season generally occurs at the end of the summer. This year was one of the weakest on record, with just two forming.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.