Tuesday 26 August 2014

Cristobal - 3 Days Out

Hurricane Cristobal is currently Southwest of Bermuda as a category 1 storm. By Friday it is expected to be well Southeast of the Avalon. Although this storm is very unlikely to bring southern vagrants to Newfoundland there is a good chance it will push local seabirds close to shore in good numbers.

Over the next 24 hours it is forecasted to travel North past Bermuda before swinging Northeast - the eye of the storm will be pretty much as far away from any land meaning that coastal seabirds like the abundant Laughing Gull are unlikely to be caught in the storm and carried to Newfoundland. There will also be limited winds with a southerly component from Thursday to Saturday because the storm will be passing too far to the East of us. However, a by-product of the storm will be strong and prolonged winds with a northerly component beginning on Thursday and peaking on Friday, and much weaker by Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon winds will have switched to the West.

Here's the expected route the storm will take over the next few days:

The following wind maps give in indication of which direction the wind will be in, and how far-reaching those winds are. Click here to see the animation of these winds (once you open that page, click the word "earth" at the bottom left of the screen and then click the arrows next to "control" to see the forecasted winds for the coming days).

Winds will be from the Southwest on Wednesday but likely too weak to make any significant seabird movement into Placentia Bay. There should be shearwaters, kittiwakes, and a few storm-petrels there though.

By Thursday around noon there will be Northeast winds going straight into Conception Bay South. These winds will build in strength throughout the day and Thursday night before peaking around Friday afternoon. 

 Nice strong winds coming from the North- Northeast headed directly for Cape St. Francis and straight into Conception Bay South.

Winds on Friday are forecasted to be approximately 25-35 knots (~ 50 - 70km/h)

What does all this mean? Well it's always difficult to predict seabird events with much accuracy but with such strong winds I would be surprised if there are no Leach's Storm-Petrels in Holyrood on Friday morning. The hope is that the first Red Phalaropes of the season will be there, along with a few jaegers. In other words I'm hoping for one of those good ol' Holyrood seabird events!

A storm with similar strength in late September last year brought several hundred jaegers, a Sabine's Gull and thousands of storm-petrels to Holyrood:
See Bruce's nf.birds post here.
Lisa's blog for Jaeger pics here.

Another storm in late May of this year with similarly strong winds brought about 20 phalaropes and a few hundred leach's storm-petrels to Holyrood.

Check out these links for some fun nf.birds postings:
October 9, 2009
October 14, 2009

I couldn't seem to find any reports of seabird events in late August to help give us an idea of what the composition of species might be like for a late August Northeast storm - however, we know that skuas, jaegers, shearwaters, fulmars, storm-petrels, and phalaropes should all be around. We just have to hope that the winds will be strong enough for any or all of them!

The current plan is to be at Holyrood on Friday morning for sunrise. Depending on how things are there I will make my way to Cape St. Francis...

... I do like Cape St. Francis:

I'll be keeping a close eye on this storm over the next few days and will probably post an update on Wednesday or Thursday.