Hurricane Larry to bring heavy snow to Greenland

Forecasters said the storm could bring up to 4 feet (122cm) of snow in parts of the subarctic island. PHOTO: X02197

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - 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 4 feet (122cm) 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 on Saturday morning, but it was still racing towards Greenland at 48mph (77kmh), the National Hurricane Centre said.

Moving at a high latitude, Larry was expected to transition into a winter storm before hitting the island by Sunday (Sept 12), causing up to 18 inches (46cm) of snow to fall in the eastern parts, and up to 4 feet in higher elevations, according to the weather station at the airport in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland.

The Hurricane Centre 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 70mph, 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.

"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 2 miles in the sky and more than 500 miles above the Arctic Circle.

The Greenland Department of Environment and Contingency Management did not return e-mails seeking comment on Saturday.

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.

Satellite image shows Hurricane Larry in the Atlantic Ocean, after passing through the Canadian Maritime province of Newfoundland and Labrador on Sept 11. PHOTO: REUTERS

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 on Saturday morning, the Canadian Broadcasting Association reported.

Larry made landfall near South East Bight on the Burin Peninsula at 11.45pm on 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 has since weakened to a Category 1 storm, with maximum sustained winds of 80mph.

Larry passed Bermuda on Thursday but had otherwise posed little threat to land. Some meteorologists estimated on Friday that the hurricane's eye was 90 miles wide.

Although the hurricane was well east of the United States on 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.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.