Saturday, October 26, 2013

Is there a rarity event to unfold next week?

Lets talk rarity weather over the next 10 days...... It's MEGA TIME

(Please keep in mind I have no idea what I'm talking about and this may be loaded with errors)

Over the next 2 days, we'll have a very strong low pressure system move through Ontario - attatched to the Polar Jet (as shown above)

GFS forecast maps from mid day on Oct 25th:

(low over NW Ontario in 9 hours)

Strong 993 over central Ontario in 24 hours

Pulls away NE into Quebec in 39 hours

So what does it mean? Well we'll have STRONG SW winds in southern Ontario over that span (turning WNW by the end)... Lake Superior and maybe Huron will go from west to NW... And I do mean WINDY

Forecast for (today) for Lake Erie - winds 35-40 KNOTS! (over 70kph) 

One issue I see is that these "Polar Jet" systems are not "far reaching" to where we get the most vagrants (south)... This storm is strong and cyclonic, but the winds are spinning around an area that doesn't really have THAT many bird species that are rare in Ontario (how many rare species could be blown in from Wisconsin? Not tooo many)... 

Obviously it's a big storm in late October - and rares are already around. White-faced Ibis, Franklin's Gulls, Pacific Loons - all good candidates. PLUS mega's are lurking around as well (Lesser Sand-Plover in Indiana recently -right??)

That's all fine and dandy!

But clearly that's not the only reason I'm doing a detailed blog posting like this....

Dun Dun....

Dun Dun Dun Dun.....


Looking forward:

Oct 28th at 2pm (Monday)

High pressure in our area, a "Colorado Low" is forming in north Texas (SUBtropical jet low pressure system?)

24 hours later (tuesday) - the low is growing and pulling the low to the west into its core... Pulling wind from further away (gulf of mexico) into the core....East winds occurring in southern Ontario 

24 hours later (Wednesday) - the two lows have consolidated and begin moving NE towards Ontario. Wind field is fairly large and the low is somewhat elongated. This allows winds from the Gulf (GOM) reach into extreme southern Ontario (see below):

(Same time winds/direction from the map above it). 

24 hours later (thursday) - the low begins to deepen rapidly and moves into the great lakes (over the lower peninsula of MI now) - wrapped tighter and very deep as a STRONG 987mb low. 

Winds at the same time (same forecast) for the above map. Low level winds reaching from Wyoming AND Florida right to Lake Erie as wind flows into the centre of the low. These winds are low level, and winds HIGHER up (Jet Stream) will be flowing in the area around the pink line into the Low (AKA southern Ontario and Lower MI at this point in time)

TWELVE hours later - the Low is moving rapidly NE - now over central Ontario - 12 hours after this image it shoots off the map. STRONG south winds blow from Florida into Nova Scotia and eastern Canada - but hopefully we have a few mega's deposited in our shores here in Ontario thanks to these events!

I've been watching a few other maps to help illustrate the possibilities as well. How about temperature anomaly? 

Oct 30 

Oct 31

The weather network forecast for Leamington calls for 14 C on the 30th and 15 C on the 31st... So after all of this, I started thinking.... Is there a past "event" that I could compare this forecast to? Some other time when some mega rare birds arrived around this time of year?

How about 2009? 

Nov 6th 2009 - 

Ash-throated Flycatcher at Point Pelee

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher in Oakville

Nov 8th 2009 - 

Summer Tanager at Prince Ed Pt

Nov 9th 2009 - 

Phainopepla in Brampton

Nov 13th 2009 - 

Western Kingbird at Port Burwell

SO - think it's safe to say something unusual happened on or before Nov 6th?!?!?!

Let's bring up the data:

Windsor HIGH Temperatures in November 2009:

Nov 4th - 7.1 C 

Nov 5th - 10.1 C

Nov 6th - 9.4 C

Nov 7th - 19.1 C

Nov 8th - 18.2 C

Nov 9th - 18.4 C

Nov 10th - 11.9 C

Sweet jeepers! Above 18C for a daytime high, 3 days in a row! In November! No wonder there were rare birds...

BUT - but... Why would BOTH the Ash-throated Fly and the Sulphur-bellied Fly be found the DAY BEFORE the warm temps? 

Does the surface map show any info (radar included in this map):

Nov 5th at 9:30pm: 

Nov 6th, 2009 at 3:30am:

Umm..... I see the warm air in the centre of the USA - moving in our direction.... And I see HIGH PRESSURE over southern Ontario!? What the heck? 

The blue blobs are BIRDS moving - but these should all be birds migrating SOUTH on cool temps and light winds. 

More maps from the night of  Nov 5/6 2009 - top right is wind dir and temperature... (850mb heights map)... Top right would be the jet stream...

Both show NW winds at Pelee/Oakville (the respective locations of mega-rare flycatchers found the following day...


Amazing weather occurs the 7th/8th/9th - and the Phainopepla is found on the 9th... But why would those two flys be found BEFORE the event? 

Unless they actually arrived before the event? Or is there reason for them to occur? The above map from Nov 5th at 9:30pm shows a very weak cold front over southern Ontario. Did it "ground" the flycatchers that were moving north for reasons totally unknown?

Or is there some correlation to high pressure centres and rare passerines? (I think there may be) - but I don't understand it... I decided to see if Michigan had any rare flycatchers/passerines from early November in 2009 to help understand the pattern. This is what I found:

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher found on Oct 29th...

Couch's Kingbird found on Oct 29th...

OK - Nothing really remarkable from early November. But DANG - Couch's Kingbird? That's mega. Not to mention a STFL found the same day in the state... One thing to do: here's the maps from Oct 29th - 

Oct 28th at 

Oct 28th at 8pm - 

Warm air south of MI --- but not THAT remarkable in MI itself... Jet pushes towards MI pretty well though... 

Oct 29th at 8am - 

Nothing all that remarkable occurring in MI - other than a southerly flow - but it is still somewhat early for a rare fly to arrive (based on what one would assume). 

Oct 29th at 8pm:

HEY - look at that - it's darn warm in Michigan - after the birds have been found... Daytime heating plays a factor but the warm air mass has clearly moved into the state where it was not there the night before... 

SO - clearly this isn't working as a litmus test... None of us could really understand what weather is causing what birds in the grand scheme of things - BUT - I do think we know enough to know that the weather over the next week. The events in 2009 ("as a whole") are what you would expect for rare birds to occur - despite the difficulties in fully understanding why... Therefore it is not a major stretch to expect something interesting to happen here in the next week.

At this stage of the game - the best thing to do will be to go out birding and see what we find! That will allow for more information/sightings/maps etc to be compiled to draw more conclusions from for the future. 

If 2009 is a good example, perhaps Oct 29th, 2013 will be a good day for you to find a rare passerine (flycatcher?) in the province! (The day before the warm). - We'll also have to wait and see how much the forecast changes over the next 5-6 days as well. Perhaps it will change and I wrote this for nothing!


  1. Insane number of birds at Pelee Tip today. No rarities for some strange reason! Was very busy for five hours there in the brutal wind!

  2. I should prolly know this but whatev. What is the shorebird?

    1. Juvenile Curlew Sandpiper twitched at Fort Erie, ON a few years ago (in October)