Home Top News Hurricane Larry to Spawn a Blizzard in Greenland

Hurricane Larry to Spawn a Blizzard in Greenland

After striking Canada as a Category 1 hurricane and causing widespread power outages in Newfoundland, Larry is moving north toward Greenland where residents are bracing for a hurricane season oddity: a blizzard caused by the remnants of a tropical storm.

Forecasters said the storm could bring up to four feet of snow in parts of the subarctic island, an event meteorologists described as rare and emblematic of a year filled with extreme weather that has been intensified by climate change.

“It was unusual in itself that Larry made landfall in the Canadian maritime,” said Ben Gelber, a meteorologist with WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio. “But this is extraordinary.”

Larry weakened to a post-tropical cyclone on Saturday morning, but it was still racing toward Greenland at 48 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center said.

Moving at a high latitude, Larry was expected to transition into a winter storm before hitting the island by Sunday, causing up to 18 inches of snow to fall in the eastern parts, and up to four feet in higher elevations, according to the weather station at the airport in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland.

The Hurricane Center said Larry would lose its tropical storm characteristics and then become a potent winter storm near Greenland by the end of the weekend. Mr. Gelber said the storm’s transition into extratropical status means it will have a cold core.

“It’s going to be a blizzard and bring winds of 60 to 70 miles per hour, buffeting the coast and bringing higher gusts over the mountains,” Mr. Gelber said.

While it’s not unusual for Greenland to have blizzards, it is rare for a blizzard to occur in early September from the remnants of a hurricane.

In Newfoundland, the city of St. John’s asked residents to stay off the roads as workers assessed the damage from the storm. Tens of thousands of customers lost power in St. John’s and surrounding areas because of “severe weather conditions,” according to the Newfoundland Power website.

Visitation at St. Clare’s Mercy Hospital, one of the larger hospitals in the area, was suspended because of a power failure. No injuries have been reported, according to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, the province’s police.

Various roads and parks in St. John’s were closed to allow debris to be cleared, and the St. John’s airport experienced delays Saturday morning, the Canadian Broadcasting Association reported.

Larry made landfall near South East Bight on the Burin Peninsula at 11:45 p.m. Friday, the National Hurricane Center said. Videos on Twitter showed eastern parts of Newfoundland being pelted by heavy rain as the storm neared its coastline, bringing increasingly powerful winds to the area.

In the past 70 years, only 23 hurricanes or post-tropical storms of hurricane strength have made landfall in Canada, according to the Canadian Hurricane Center.

Larry, which formed on Sept. 1, strengthened to a Category 3 storm two days later. It has since weakened to a Category 1 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 80 m.p.h. Larry passed Bermuda on Thursday but had otherwise posed little threat to land. Some meteorologists estimated Friday that the hurricane’s eye was 90 miles wide.

Although the hurricane was well east of the United States early Friday afternoon, large swells generated by the storm threatened to cause dangerous surf and rip currents along the East Coast, the National Weather Service said.

It has been a dizzying few weeks for meteorologists who have monitored several named storms that formed in quick succession, bringing stormy weather, flooding and damaging winds to parts of the U.S. and the Caribbean.

Tropical Storm Mindy hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday night, just hours after it formed in the Gulf of Mexico. It was downgraded to a tropical depression on Thursday but brought heavy rain to parts of the Southeastern United States before moving into the Atlantic Ocean.

Ida battered Louisiana as a Category 4 hurricane on Aug. 29 before its remnants brought deadly flooding to the New York area. Two other tropical storms, Julian and Kate, both fizzled out within a day.

In mid-August, Tropical Storm Fred made landfall in the Florida Panhandle and Hurricane Grace hit Haiti and Mexico. Tropical Storm Henri knocked out power and brought record rainfall to the Northeastern United States on Aug. 22.

The quick succession of named storms might make it seem as if the Atlantic were spinning them up like a fast-paced conveyor belt, but their formation coincides with the peak of hurricane season.

The links between hurricanes and climate change are becoming more apparent. A warming planet can expect stronger hurricanes over time, and a higher incidence of the most powerful storms. But the overall number of storms could drop, because factors like stronger wind shear could keep weaker storms from forming.

Hurricanes are also becoming wetter because of more water vapor in the warmer atmosphere; scientists have suggested storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017 produced far more rain than it would have without the human effects on climate. Rising sea levels are also contributing to higher storm surge — the most destructive element of tropical cyclones.

Ana became the first named storm of the season on May 23, making this the seventh year in a row that a named storm developed in the Atlantic before the official start of the hurricane season on June 1.

In May, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast that there would be 13 to 20 named storms this year, six to 10 of which would be hurricanes, including three to five major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher in the Atlantic.

NOAA updated its forecast in early August, predicting 15 to 21 named storms, including seven to 10 hurricanes, by the end of the season on Nov. 30.

Last year, there were 30 named storms, including six major hurricanes, forcing meteorologists to exhaust the alphabet for the second time and move to using Greek letters.

It was the most named storms on record, surpassing the 28 from 2005, and the second-highest number of hurricanes.

Reporting was contributed by Louis Lucero II, Eduardo Medina, Christopher Mele, Azi Paybarah, Chris Stanford, Isabella Grullón Paz and Derrick Bryson Taylor.



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