Monday, October 20, 2014

The 2014 Autumn Birding Festival Migration Forecast

Sometimes the stars align, and when they do, you put everything else aside for a cloudier day, and you go stargazing. I’m a person who pours over weather maps, speculating, calculating, planning. How many days since the last big push? Are we early in the season when birds are apprehensive to move on suboptimal conditions, or is it later and has the temperature begun to plummet, driving even the most cold-hardy species southward?

So now I’m pouring over the weather forecast, the Global Forecast System (GFS) model to be specific, since it’s the most long-range. I’m looking at the upper-level winds (925mb or ~3500 feet), the surface winds, and precipitation.

The forecast is calling for an area of low pressure to move off of the Mid-Atlantic by Wednesday night, setting up northwest winds over the Mid-Atlantic, but likely causing precipitation over New England. This should preclude many birds from leaving the New England coast, but will bring new migrants out of western New York and the eastern Great Lakes instead.

Upper-level Winds for Wednesday Night -> Thursday Morning

Surface Winds for Wednesday Night -> Thursday Morning

Precipitation Forecast for Wednesday Night -> Thursday Morning

By Thursday night the low is expected to be off of Cape Cod, sending us stronger northwest winds throughout the night and into the day on Friday. Again precipitation well to our north should preclude many birds from leaving under these conditions, but birds across New York, including eastern New York, should head south to Cape May.
Upper-level Winds for Thursday Night -> Friday Morning

Surface Winds for Thursday Night -> Friday Morning

Precipitation Forecast for Thursday Night -> Friday Morning

Then as the low tracks north towards Nova Scotia on Friday night, precipitation clears out of southern New England and solid northwest flow builds in over the entire northeastern US, conveying birds down to Cape May once again.
Upper-level Winds for Friday Night -> Saturday Morning

Surface Winds for Friday Night -> Saturday Morning

Precipitation Forecast for Friday Night -> Saturday Morning

On Saturday a cold front will pass over the region, and strong upper-level northwest flow will build in again, this time from the Hudson Bay region of Canada, all the way down into the lower Mid-Atlantic!
Upper-level Winds for Saturday Night -> Sunday Morning
Surface Winds for Saturday Night -> Sunday Morning

Precipitation Forecast for Saturday Night into Sunday Morning

Again on Sunday night we expect more northwest winds from the northern Great Lakes through the entire New England, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
Upper-level Winds for Sunday Night -> Monday Morning

Surface Winds for Sunday Night -> Monday Morning

Precipitation Forecast for Sunday Night into Monday Morning

So there you have it, the stars aligning to bring many birds to Cape May this coming weekend. Of course weather forecasts may change some as we get closer, so be sure to check back with us right before you get here. I hope to see you out in the field as well as inside Convention Hall and enjoying the fantastic workshops and evening programs we have scheduled. If you still need to register, you may do so online here.

See you soon! Until then, good birding!!

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