Wednesday 15 October 2014

Hurricane Gonzalo!

Hurricane Gonzalo is currently a category 4 storm and is tracking straight for Newfoundland! There hasn't been a hurricane of this strength since 2011!

The track of the storm is taking it nowhere close to US land before it reaches Newfoundland meaning it is unlikely to bring masses of Southern vagrants (i.e. Laughing Gulls, skimmers, terns, etc). Interestingly, however, it is passing right over Bermuda - land of the White-tailed Tropicbird (and Bermuda Petrel), and considering the mere size of this beast, it could easily catch a bunch of offshore birds during its Northward route.

Here's the current predicted storm track:

Hurricane Florence of 2006 took on a very similar track to this weeks storm (although it was about 40 days earlier in the season) and resulted in a White-tailed Tropicbird in St. John's and a Least Tern at St. Shott's!

The storm is expected to hit the island on Saturday night and last only about 12-18 hours on the avalon because it is moving very quickly!

Obviously lots of potential for regular seabirds to be pushed into shore including skuas and jaegers, Leach's and Wilson's Storm-Petrels, shearwaters, phalaropes, etc.

Be warned though, category 4 storms aren't friendly and being on the Southern shore of Newfoundland where there is little shelter on a calm day, will make for a dangerous place to be on Sunday.

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at things), I'll be doing a sea watch on Sunday morning from the Northeastern tip of Long Island, New York. The hurricane won't have much of an influence in that area though.

As if a mega hurricane wasn't exciting enough, there is a beautiful low pressure system over the North Atlantic now that is bringing winds more or less straight from Britain to Newfoundland.

Here's the wind map for Thursday at sunrise:

Last year I made a list of species that could arise from a system like this and it applies equally as well to the current weather system. Last years transatlantic winds brought us a Pink-footed Goose and probably a bunch of other birds that went undiscovered...

Get out there and search, but don't be too cruel while I'm looking at more southern birds where they are supposed to be.