Hurricane Larry set to turn into Greenland blizzard

Island braces itself for unusual 'snow-cane' caused by remnants of tropical storm

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

Forecasters said the storm could bring up to 1.2m 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 Mr Ben Gelber, a meteorologist with WCMH-TV in Columbus, Ohio. "But this is extraordinary."

Larry weakened to a post-tropical cyclone last Saturday morning, but it was still racing towards Greenland at 77kmh, the National Hurricane Centre said.

Moving at a high latitude, Larry was expected to transition into a winter storm before hitting the island yesterday, causing up to 46cm of snow to fall in the eastern parts, and up to 1.2m in higher elevations, according to the weather station at the airport in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland.

The United States National Hurricane Centre said Larry would lose its tropical storm characteristics and then become a potent winter storm near Greenland by the end of last 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 60mph to 70mph (97kmh to 113kmh), buffeting the coast and bringing higher gusts over the mountains," he said.

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

"It's remarkable," Mr Gelber said. "We've run out of adjectives this year."

Several forecasters noted the storm's transformation on Twitter or on daily forecasts, describing it as a "snow-cane".

Just last month, it rained for the first time at the frigid high point of the Greenland ice sheet, which is 3.2km in the sky and more than 800km above the Arctic Circle.

Larry made landfall near South East Bight on the Burin Peninsula at 11.45pm last Friday, the National Hurricane Centre 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 Centre.

Larry, which formed on Sept 1, strengthened to a Category 3 storm two days later. It later weakened to a Category 1 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 129kmh.

Larry passed Bermuda last Thursday but had otherwise posed little threat to land. Some meteorologists estimated last Friday that the hurricane's eye was 145km wide.

Although the hurricane was well east of the US last 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.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 13, 2021, with the headline 'Hurricane Larry set to turn into Greenland blizzard'. Subscribe