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Hurricane Matthew & Migration

Posted on Oct 9, 2016

First of all, my thoughts are with all who were or are experiencing the very worst of Hurricane Matthew, a deadly tropical cyclone that has been ravaging areas from Haiti to Cuba, the Bahamas, and now the United States. I, like you undoubtedly, know people who took some of the heavy blows from the storm in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. It proved to be a very difficult forecast which only exacerbated fears, and as heavy rain falls right now in the Mid-Atlantic and New England before the post-tropical cyclone heads out to sea instead of taking that long-discussed loop, the often poor work done by our short, mid, and long-range computer modeling at nearly every step Matthew took is something that bears immediate scrutiny. Here is a radar screenshot of the east coast from late last night with Matthew seen from North Carolina through Massachusetts and precipitation coming from him and the cold front that had passed through the Northeast region.


Any breezy winds you felt in our Chautauqua County area were thanks to that front, and an enormous avian migration was underway as well. You probably saw a lot of new bird faces if you were outside in western areas of this map today as all of those blue circles that are mostly green in the south are radar returns of heavy bird migration. It looks like a lot of them were on the move in the areas most impacted by the hurricane, quickly vacating places they had been stuck, locations that may look a lot different now than when they had arrived. Birds have been coping with hurricanes for millions of years, and most of the songbirds can handle it fine – stay in place and shelter, fly around them, or wait until the massive low pressure clears the region before coming through. However, seabirds certainly become caught up in these systems, being moved considerable distances. Last week we were also discussing the potential deadly impact Matthew would have on some of our federally threatened Piping Plovers as a significant part of their global population overwinters in the Bahamas. That remains to be seen, but I hope all of you are safe, and I think we are all glad it has weakened and is leaving us now.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator