In a sure sign that the world is coming to an end, a hurricane has formed in the Atlantic Ocean in January for the first time since 1938. Hurricane Alex, which the National Hurricane Center had previously dubbed a tropical storm, was upgraded to hurricane status Thursday morning when a small eye formed at its center. The storm is currently located about 490 miles south of Portugal’s Azores islands, several of which are under a hurricane warning. As of 10 a.m., CNN reports Alex clocked maximum wind speeds of 85 miles per hour (the threshold for hurricanes is 74 miles per hour) and is moving northeast at a steady 20 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Center estimates it will reach the Azores islands Friday morning.
Hurricane season in the Atlantic usually runs from June 1 to November 30; it’s unusual, but not unheard of, for a hurricane to form shortly before or after those dates. However, it’s extremely unusual to see a storm like Alex, which is the first hurricane to exist in any ocean in January since Hurricane Alice in 1955.
In other strange and disquieting climate news, fossil fuel seems to be causing the Earth to skip entire geological cycles. A new study by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) in Germany shows that human activity probably postponed the next ice age for at least 100,000 years due to the amount of carbon dioxide we’ve pumped into the atmosphere. PIK researchers discovered the “tipping point” at which the planet is plunged into deep freezes is indicated by low levels of CO2, but we’ve kept CO2 levels so high that we’ve bypassed that tipping point and permanently messed with the planet’s rhythm.
“Like no other force on the planet, ice ages have shaped the global environment and thereby determined the development of human civilization,” H.J. Schellnhuber, a researcher on the project, told The Guardian. “Now human interference is acting as a huge geological force.” Human beings have stopped a pattern that’s existed since Earth’s formation, so it’s no wonder storms like Alex are also breaking a mold that’s held for centuries.