Hurricane Alex was an early-developing hurricane over the Atlantic Ocean, and the first tropical cyclone of the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season. It formed sometime in January 2016 in the eastern Atlantic, and eventually strengthened into an extraordinarily massive Category 5 hurricane. It most likely caused extensive damage on the East Coast of the United States and in the Caribbean.
Hurricane Alex's existence was concurrent with the New Russian Federation uprising, including their attack on the United States. Andrei Markov and Sergei Illich, the leaders of the organization, fled into the hurricane after their failed attack on Miami; Warwolf Squadron chased them, shot down Illich inside a tornado produced by the hurricane, and escaped it to continue chasing after Markov.
- "We've also been hampered by Hurricane Alex. You'll get a detailed weather report shortly, but the winds are topping at 120 knots."
- ― Miami briefing officer on January 18
Not much is known about Hurricane Alex's history prior to approaching Central America. It sped towards the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and South America, but turned north before it made landfall. By this point, it had become a Category 4 hurricane, its winds topping at 120 knots (222 km/h, 138 mph).
By early morning on January 18, 2016, Hurricane Alex had reached Florida but did not make landfall. It remained on the coast and continued to traverse northward, by this point strengthening into a Category 5. During this time, it spawned a violent tornadic waterspout off the coast of Georgia.
After this point, it is unknown what became of Hurricane Alex. It likely weakened as it approached the northeast U.S. and Canada, eventually dissipating in the North Atlantic.
Effects on NRF assault
- "I can't keep my aircraft stable. Shit, stay in one piece, baby . . . I can't lock, radar won't lock."
- ― Warwolf 3
Hurricane Alex played a major role in the final events of the New Russian Federation uprising in the United States. Two aircraft carriers from the United States Navy were sweeping a search area in the Caribbean for Andrei Markov, the NRF forces, and the final Trinity missile. However, the arrival of a strengthening Hurricane Alex likely forced the search parties to dock in secure ports until the storm passed.
After Alex had left southern Florida, Task Force 108 was tasked with defending Miami from invading NRF aircraft. The hurricane's clouds were easily visible from their position at the north of the state. After Markov had entered the battle zone, shooting down José Gutierrez but getting the final Trinity missile damaged by William Bishop, he escaped north straight into Hurricane Alex alongside more NRF aircraft, one of which was flown by Illich.
Hurricane Alex had attained Category 5 status by the time Task Force 108 caught up with them inside Alex. Illich, in an effort to distract Warwolf Squadron from Markov, led them into a dogfight inside the waterspout Alex had spawned. Illich's PAK-FA managed to retain some of its stealth capabilities within the tornado and seemingly had no difficulty flying repeatedly through it, whereas Warwolf Squadron (especially Warwolf 3) suffered an extreme loss in visibility and reduction in flight control. Eventually, Bishop shot down Illich, and all remaining Task Force 108 members flew north to protect Washington, D.C. At this point, Alex was no longer a threat to either the NRF or to Task Force 108.
- Hurricane Alex features an easter egg in Free Mission: its tornado can be destroyed. Firing a Trinity missile in the water in the middle of the tornado will erase it from the environment, which will also remove its wind effects. This could be possible in real life, depending on the strength of Trinity's shockwave and whether it could interrupt the circulation of air within a tornado.
- This tactic makes the dogfight against Illich easier, but it can't be done in Campaign mode since the player does not have access to the PAK-FA and its Trinity missile in this mode.
- When Ace Combat: Assault Horizon was released in 2011, very few Atlantic tropical cyclones were recorded to have formed in January; low water temperatures cannot sustain such storms, though rapid climate change could change this in the years to come. When Hurricane Alex was depicted in Assault Horizon, it would have been the third tropical cyclone, second hurricane, and first major hurricane recorded in the Atlantic to form in January.
- Hurricane Alex's name confirms its formation in January; the first tropical cyclone to form in a calendar year is given a name that starts with the letter A.
- In January 2016 in the real world, the National Hurricane Center tracked a cyclone in the mid-Atlantic that formed into an actual Category 1 Hurricane Alex, becoming the third tropical cyclone and second hurricane to form in January. However, even though it formed southeast of Florida, Alex remained at low strength, only causing minimal damage to Bermuda and the Azores; it did not become a major hurricane, and was not a threat to the United States.