Predicting the Weather; Has it Gone to the Birds? — Wilderness North

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Predicting the Weather; Has it Gone to the Birds?

Graham SaundersThe previous week featured near average conditions in the Northwest. The morning temperatures of 1.5º C(35º F) in Armstrong on August 19 and 20 may have prompted some thoughts that the remarkable weather of this summer is poised to switch to a new season.

pics from Miminiska, Wilderness North 2012

The beginnings of fall migration are reported to be earlier than usual by Boyce at Mojikit. Are the geese predicting an early beginning to winter? Perhaps they are, but the next week or two look likely to be both warmer and drier than average throughout Northwestern Ontario -perfect weather to get out and enjoy the last few weeks of August fishing

Canadian geese tend to time their migration in early fall after a cold front has passed because after the passing of a cold front, the winds tend to be initially from the northwest and skies are clear. Presumably the geese like to see where they are going and daytime heating due to clear skies creates updrafts and thermals. Updrafts are important for these large birds who are heavy after a summer of gourmet dining.

Unusual bird and animal behaviour often initiates conversations that perhaps animals can sense the weather of the next season or two. Perhaps they do, but you would think that geese should be more interested in the weather in Texas and Mexico, rather than the winter weather that they are leaving behind in Canada.

Predicting the winter season is a risky business. The wild card is often El Niño, a measure of the temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. There is increased confidence for a weak-to-moderate El Niño during this fall and winter. In the Northwest region and other parts of central North America, a “weak“ El Niño translates as no effect; meaning a “moderate” or mild winter. No one, including the geese, is predicting a “strong” El Niño. Exceptionally warm water temperatures in the central Pacific almost always result in record highs and minimal snow in our region of the planet.

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