A Hurricane and A Blizzard?? It Must Be October

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The weather is far from boring this week as parts of the northern and central Rockies gear up for the first significant snow of the season. It’s going to feel like winter across parts of Colorado and Wyoming today and tomorrow, while in southern Florida their main concern is Hurricane Rina as it intensifies in the northwest Caribbean. Talk about going from one extreme to another. A hurricane and a winter storm at the same time.

For starters, let’s talk about the snow expected tonight into Wednesday across the northern and central Rockies. An upper level storm system and surface cold front will push across the area today and tomorrow bringing heavy snow to parts of Wyoming and Colorado. Precipitation will begin as rain during the day today transitioning to a rain and snow mix late this afternoon into the evening hours as temperatures drop. A transition to all snow is expected overnight into Wednesday with heavy snow possible at times across southern Wyoming and Colorado, especially around the Denver-Ft. Collins area. Snow should gradually taper off during the late afternoon/evening hours.

 Snow is expected across WY and CO tonight into Wednesday. Image: ImpactWeather StormWatch

 Heavy snow will be possible at times tomorrow, especially near the Denver area and into the higher elevations. Image: ImpactWeather StormWatch

1-3 inches of snow will be likely across northern and central Wyoming, with 4-8 inches possible into the higher elevations of southern Wyoming. Heavy wet and slushy snow can be expected across the Denver area with 6-12 inches possible. Due to the heavy, wet and slushy nature of the snow, this will likely lead to a few downed tree limbs and scattered power outages across the region. Travel disruptions are also likely tonight and tomorrow. Further south, between 4-8 inches of snow will be possible around the Colorado Springs area, and between 2-4 inches around Pueblo. Winds will be gusty at times this afternoon through tomorrow morning which could lead to areas of blowing and drifting snow. Improving conditions are expected on Thursday with temperatures gradually warming up this weekend.

 Here’s the forecasted track of Hurricane Rina. Image: ImpactWeather TropicsWatch

For those living in the Cayman Islands and northeastern Yucatan, snow is the last thing on their minds right now as Hurricane Rina approaches with all its fury. Maximum sustained winds have increased this morning to 110 mph with gusts to 125 mph, which makes it a Category 2 hurricane. Further intensification is expected. On Thursday, Rina is forecast to move over the northeast Yucatan, including Cozumel and Cancun, as a destructive hurricane. Squalls have already been affecting the Cayman Islands with the heaviest squalls remaining just west of the islands. The squalls should end across the Cayman Islands late this afternoon or evening. However, across the northeast Yucatan the heaviest squalls will be impacting the area late Wednesday into Thursday as the center moves near or over the region. Hurricane conditions are possible on Thursday with improving conditions expected Friday as Rina moves away from the area. Across the Southern Florida Peninsula and Keys, squalls associated with the outer bands of Rina will begin impacting the area early Saturday morning and continue throughout the day. The heaviest squalls should remain well to the south and west of the area.

Rina continues to move very slowly to the west-northwest today. On satellite, a small eye is becoming visible and that’s a sign that Rina is strengthening and is very close to Category 3 strength. Additional strengthening is likely for the next 24 to 36 hours. Beyond 36 hours, interaction with the Yucatan Peninsula and increasing wind shear should result in steady weakening as it tracks northward along the east coast of the Yucatan. There is still some uncertainty in the forecast track as it’s unclear how Rina will interact with the cold front moving into the southeastern Gulf on Friday afternoon. However, we think Rina will track east or east-southeast towards northern Cuba late Saturday into Sunday.

GOES East IR Satellite image of Hurricane Rina on October 25, 2011. Image: NOAA

Unfortunately, due to now Hurricane Rina, more than two dozen people are missing after a speed boat belonging to the Nicaraguan Navy went missing on Sunday afternoon. They were in the process of evacuating people from the Miskito Cays when it went missing. Two speed boats and eleven communal boats were sent out to assist with the evacuation of more than 200 people beginning on Saturday. So far they have been unsuccessful locating the boat or any of its passengers.

2011 has been the year of crazy weather from tornadoes and earthquakes to hurricanes and we still have a little over 2 months left. I wonder what 2012 will bring? There’s no telling.

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