Friday, May 24, 2013

Winsor Dam and predictions for the upcoming hurricane season

Spotted Sandpiper, Winsor Dam, May 24, 2013
Spotted Sandpiper, Winsor Dam, May 24, 2013
Double crested Cormorant (distant group of nine), Winsor Dam, May 24, 2013
Double crested Cormorant (distant group of nine), Winsor Dam, May 24, 2013
I took advantage of the brief respite in the rain this morning to check out Winsor Dam before work.  With heavy rain yesterday and overnight bringing us a few inches of rain I thought I would check to see if anything of interest was put down by the storms.  I had 28 Double crested Cormorants (groups of 17, 9 and 2) plus three pairs of Common Loons but not much else of note.  I also made a quick walk down to the water at Gate 5 to get better looks at some of the birds but most had left by the time I walked down there.  The rest of the day brought more scattered showers and Saturday is suppose to be windy, rainy and cool with temperatures perhaps just making it to 50.With the coming arrival of June 1st comes the official arrival of hurricane season for 2013.  What will the next year bring as far as storms that could impact the area?  No one knows for sure but the predictions from a variety of sources points toward an active hurricane season for the Atlantic.  The last two years have featured storms impacting the local area with Irene in 2011 and Sandy in 2012.  Each of these storms brought their own oddities as far as birds go to the local area.  Irene featured a treasure trove of storm driven birds to the local area: .   In addition a few days after Irene I had a sighting of a large swift species that was almost certainly related to the storm: ( ).  Sandy hit later in the season and much further south than Irene and the main feature from that storm around here was downed waterfowl with scoters and long tailed ducks among others.  The most unusual sighting of that storm was several days after it hit when I had a Black legged Kittiwake at Quabbin.  ( ).  Here is the official word from NOAA on the 2013 hurricane season as of May 23:

In its 2013 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting an active or extremely active season this year.

For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook says there is a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 7 to 11 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

These ranges are well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 major hurricanes.

“With the devastation of Sandy fresh in our minds, and another active season predicted, everyone at NOAA is committed to providing life-saving forecasts in the face of these storms and ensuring that Americans are prepared and ready ahead of time.” said
Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., NOAA acting administrator. “As we saw first-hand with Sandy, it’s important to remember that tropical storm and hurricane impacts are not limited to the coastline. Strong winds, torrential rain, flooding, and tornadoes often threaten inland areas far from where the storm first makes landfall.”

Three climate factors that strongly control Atlantic hurricane activity are expected to come together to produce an active or extremely active 2013 hurricane season. These are:

  • A continuation of the atmospheric climate pattern, which includes a strong west African monsoon, that is responsible for the ongoing era of high activity for Atlantic hurricanes that began in 1995;
  • Warmer-than-average water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea; and
  • El NiƱo is not expected to develop and suppress hurricane formation.

“This year, oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the Atlantic basin are expected to produce more and stronger hurricanes,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “These conditions include weaker wind shear, warmer Atlantic waters and conducive winds patterns coming from Africa."

The next several months could prove interesting and I will update as storms develop that could potential have an impact here.

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