Despite long odds, a subtropical system in the Atlantic was upgraded to hurricane status this morning by the National Hurricane Center.

Satellite images showed Hurricane Alex, a well-defined tropical storm, churning in the open Atlantic, closer to Africa but at about the latitude of Jacksonville, N.C.

"It's rather surprising and remarkable," Richard Pasch, senior hurricane specialist for the National Hurricane Center, tells our Newscast unit. "It's a pretty rare event."

In fact, since record-keeping began in 1851, only one other hurricane is known to have formed in January. That was an unnamed storm in 1938.

Hurricane Alice, in 1955, was the last hurricane to be recorded in January. But Alice is a strange little hurricane because it actually formed in December of 1954 and stayed alive through Jan. 5, 1955.

St. Kitts, NOAA reported in 1955, recorded a top wind speed of 75 mph.

The National Hurricane Center reports that the central Azores, tiny islands almost 1,000 miles west of Lisbon, Portugal, are under a hurricane warning right now.

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