Hurricane Sandy: 25 October 8PM Update

Andrew Farnsworth The Cornell Lab Oct 26, 2012

Hurricane Sandy is forecast to make landfall along the central New Jersey coast some time during the morning of Tuesday 30 October. This storm is not forecast to maintain consistent, hurricane force winds, but may have intense gusts, will have heavy rain, and may bring large storm surges. The low intensity and track of the system suggest that it will produce a large displacement of near shore and coastal species, such as several species of more common local tubenoses, Brown Pelican,¬†Sandwich and Royal Terns, Laughing Gull,¬†jaegers, and both phalaropes. This is in distinct contrast to stronger hurricanes that may entrain many aerial species and bring them far inland in large numbers. Additionally, given its track, some tropical terns will likely appear at the immediate coast and perhaps inland for 50-100 miles, though numbers of Sooty and Bridled Terns will likely be lower than typical earlier season storms. Birders may expect a lower Sooty to Bridled Tern ratio than stronger storms, similar in magnitude to what occurred during Irene in 2011. Although entrained species may be limited in number, there is potential for Pterodromasto occur along the coast and on inland bodies of water. Black-capped Petrel may be most likely, but Herald and Fea’s Petrel are in the realm of possible. Additionally, Leach’s Storm-Petrel (among Wilson’s and possibly some Band-rumped Storm-Petrels) could occur inland. Magnificent Frigatebird will presumably be one of the species driven in this system as well, so watching coastlines, ridgelines, river valleys, and inland bodies of water during and for days after the storm is worthwhile. Coastal areas from Barnegat Light north and east along the coast to the south shore of Long Island should experience at the least the displacement of near shore and coastal species. Sandy Hook may be a particularly good location for observation, given its proximity to the storm’s projected landfall and the swath of easterly winds that will likely impact the Hook. Points immediately inland along the track of the eye, as it moves over land, and to the immediate east of the eye, traditionally have the highest likelihood for finding odd, entrained species. Birder should pay close attention to the Delaware River as soon as the eye passes over it, as birds will use this as a conduit to return to the ocean. Similarly, Delaware Bay observation points should be checked for seabirds and other species returning from farther inland. Inland reservoirs in western NJ and northeastern Pennsylvania could be magnets for storm-driven birds, and should be checked as the storm passes and in the hours shortly after passage. By the morning following the storm, most individuals not exhausted or injured driven by the storm may have departed the area; if you want to see something wild, you had better place yourself accordingly during and just after the passage of the eye. Above all, when birding before, during, and after the passage of a storm like this, exercise extreme caution.

5-day Forecast Track, 25 Oct 2012 8PM