The official start of the 2013 hurricane season in the Atlantic was 1 June. The current forecasts suggest an active season, as evidenced by the AccuWeather summary of NOAA data below:
Team BirdCast will be monitoring hurricanes and discussing the birds that they entrain and displace throughout the 2013 hurricane season. With each discussion, we will remind you that safety is priority number one when storm birding – these systems are dangerous, and bring with them dangerous conditions before, during, and after landfall. We will also remind you to review a detailed primer on hurricane birding that Team eBird posted in 2011 and 2012, which can be found here.
Already we have a tropical storm churning in the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical Storm Andrea is expected to make landfall in the eastern Panhandle of Florida this evening, bring heavy rain, the threat of tornadic storms, perhaps 40-70 mph winds, and a storm surge of at least several feet. An excellent summary of the storm at present is on Dr. Jeff Masters’s Wunderblog.
Given this storm’s origins, we do not expect a particularly exotic array of entrained pelagic species over the course of the storm’s path once over land. However, some nearshore species will be entrained and displaced to coastal and inland locations, including Magnificent Frigatebird, Brown Pelican, terns, Laughing Gull, and jaegers. Birders in the SE US should watch inland bodies of water on Friday from northern Florida North and East along the coast to the east of the Appalachians to the Carolinas as the storm moves rapidly to the northeast.
We also expect potential for displacement farther North along the Atlantic seaboard as easterly winds associated with the approach and passage of the storm will shift nearshore species close to shore. Given the storm’s forecast track, coastal locations from DelMarVa North and East to Cape Cod and the Canadian maritimes (again, when and where it is safe to go birding) may experience good seawatching on Friday and Saturday (and Sunday in the Canadian maritimes). Birders at coastal locations should watch for Brown Pelican, Great, Cory’s, Sooty, and Manx Shearwaters, Wilson’s and Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Royal and Sandwich Terns and Parasitic and Pomarine Jaegers, in addition to less common species like Audubon’s Shearwater, Band-rumped Storm-Petrel, Brown Booby, and Long-tailed Jaeger, and more typical storm waifs like Bridled and Sooty Terns. Additionally, recent pelagic observations in the NW Atlantic from June suggest that Pterodroma (including Fea’s, Herald, and Black-capped) petrels are possible even from coastal sites in a storm like this in early June, despite its speed and relatively slow winds, so keep an eye and camera ready.