Posted by: NatureIsAwesome | April 29, 2011 @ 10:06 am

Front Sliding Across Florida

This is the radar from 5:00pm last night to 9:30am this morning.

Frames are every 1/2 hour. Click on the thumbnail to view the full-sized animation.
Base Reflectivity image from Key West, FL Base Velocity image from Key West, FL Base Reflectivity image from Miami, FL Base Velocity image from Miami, FL Composite base reflectivity for the Southeastern USA

First off we would like to send our condolences to families affected by the horrible weather that has ravaged the SE and especially Alabama in the past days. The images we have looked at are disheartening and powerful. All the perfect conditions meteorological were in place to cause the outbreak of twisters which is being described as “historic” and possibly greater than the biggest one on record. Several factors are being assessed as to what caused the outbreak. A leading candidate: La Niña, the periodic ocean cycle that cools the waters off South America and can impact weather globally is one to look at closely. During years of La Niña, the jet stream moves north through the Pacific NW and Great Lakes region alike, keeping cold air north and warm humid air to the south. Cold fronts that would usually dry out the atmosphere down south are blocked and where the two air masses collide; tornadoes are possible. A strong jet stream has dug into the south where a deep warm moisture filled atmosphere has been in place partly due to the south winds that have been prevalent. The same winds have shot birds right passed most of us in the SE.

Last night the tail end of the frontal system slid across North and Central FL, moving SE at 20kts. As the front moved SE it effectively created a roadblock that should have halted birds’ progress in their tracks. Unfavorable weather as such is conducive in bringing down migrants in the face of the squall line. This band of convection continued to move SW and started to break up as the best dynamics and upper level support had moved off to the NE. Winds shifted and a SW flow became northerly overnight. This front will continue to weaken as it moves south as it has lost its upper level support.

Birding should be fruitful in areas where rain was overhead from midnight to 3 a.m. These areas would be east and west of Lake O’ with more birds in the Melbourne area as radar showed a moderate influx of migrants. Miami radar did pick up activity moving in from the east as well as a moderate influx from the SW. A visit to your favorite migrant trap may produce some migrants but then again they could have continued north. Please tell us what you are seeing and how you think weather played a role in the birding conditions today.

Again our prayers and best wishes go out to all that were affected by the tornado outbreak which has proven to be very destructive as well as deadly. Keep those in mind as you go out today in search of our feathered friends.

Nature is Awesome,
Angel and Mariel



  1. Just had a mini-fallout in my yard – 20-30 mixed A. Redstarts, Common Yellowthroats, and Black-throated Blues. OK, nothing rare, but more migrants than I have seen all Spring! Made my day! I’m in NE Broward and they must have been stopped by the storms coming through.

  2. Yesterday (Thursday) and today we finally had a good showing of migrants at Ft.
    Pickens. Today (Friday) we had 19 species of warblers although in low numbers.
    Red-eyed Vireos were the most abundant species, but nary a whisker amongst
    them. The only other vireo found was a Yellow-throated. Both tanagers and both
    grosbeaks and buntings were in evidence, as were Baltimore and Orchard Orioles.
    Several Yellow-billed Cuckoos skulked from oak to oak, but no Black-billeds.

    Bob says that birds left Yucatan Wednesday night under favorable takeoff
    conditions, with winds SE AT 15 knots, and had good tail winds until they met
    the front Thursday morning about 3 or 4 a.m. approximately 300 – 350 mi north
    of Yucatan. The SW Pass weather station at the mouth of the Mississippi River
    was reading North winds at 30 knots at 3 a.m. Thursday. This would have slowed
    their progress and their typical late morning to early afternoon arrival time
    was delayed, as evidenced by reports from Ft. Pickens and Dauphin Island

    So Thursday, the strongest flyers, Eastern Kingbirds were reported first, in
    numbers, followed by weaker flyers (warblers) later, as evidenced by Alex
    Harper who began birding after 5:30 p.m. and found 13 species of warblers at
    Ft. Pickens; whereas Cecil and Pam Brown found only lots of Eastern Kingbirds
    earlier. Chazz Hesselein at Dauphin Island reported most birds were gone by
    dark at the Audubon Sanctuary there, whereas it was really hopping around 4
    p.m. according to David Dortch. In Gulf Breeze, Bob saw a large flock of
    kingbirds moving E around 3:15 p.m., but no other migrants.

    E. Kingbirds were able to leave Dauphin Island and Ft. Pickens after winds
    abated yesterday (Th) in late afternoon. Our morning trip today (Friday) to Ft.
    Pickens revealed few kingbirds, but lots of warblers, since they stayed to
    refuel. Also present in only small numbers were Barn Swallows, strong flyers
    also in the usual vanguard of a Trans-Gulf movement.

    Lucy Duncan
    Gulf Breeze

  3. Today at Tomoka State Park things were just a little slow at first then I noted awarbler high-tailing it for the trees from the river. Then bunches arrived: mostly male and female redstarts, the first female Black-throated Blues along with more males, Common Yellowthroats, and Blackpolls. Lots! I caught 7 birds but none included the Blackpolls…today. Had a female the other day.

    Two years ago on May 15 during the Spring Migration Survey I had a HUGE fallout of Blackpolls and American Redstarts. The trees were dripping with them. I went the next day expecting to band tons of birds. They were gone, totally. So, don’t know how long they will hang around but every bird I caught had not one ounce of gat on them so hopefully they will hang around and fatten up over the next couple of days. Otherwise, look out Guana and Washington Oaks.

    On the marsh I had one group of Bobolinks, about 30, another group of Indigo Buntings, maybe 20-30, a huge group of Barn Swallows, 100+ flying very close to the plants over the marsh. One falcon in the distance so couldn’t quite tell species. And a group of 3 Spotted Sandpipers landed on the shoreline right next to the dock I was on watching all the marsh activity.

    Winds were 15-20 pretty dteadily sometimes gusting to 25-30. I love “cold fronts”!

    Meret S Wilson

  4. Hello,

    Strong north wind kept the Bobolink flights low from 8:00am to 9:00am along the West Pasco coast. At Gulf harbors, Eagle Point, and Sand Bay I counted 31 groups of Bobolinks flying low over the mangroves. One flight was 200+, 3 were 100+, 4 were 20+, and 23 were 10+ as the attached photo shows.

    For the hour estimate = 800+ Bobolinks, although their “blink” calls could be heard all the time so many past by unseen.

    Also had 2 Indigo Buntings, 4 Eastern Kingbird, 5 Gray Kingbird, 10 Bank Swallow, 50+ Barn Swallows. There are 8 Redhead ducks still at golf course pond.

    Ken Tracey

  5. Good Evening,

    This afternoon I was invited to check out a spot I never been to before, Coquina Baywalk in Manatee County. The location is site 114 in the West Florida Birding Trail Guide and on page 96 A-3 of the DeLorme Gazetteer.

    The migrants numbers were low, but with decent variety the best being a Black-whiskered Vireo. Here is what
    was seen at the baywalk this afternoon.

    7 – Magnificent Frigatebirds
    1 – Empidonax Species
    3 – Eastern Kingbirds
    1 – Black-whiskered Vireo (seen in the Ficus trees & Sea Grapes around the Coastal Ridge education sign)
    2 – Barn Swallows
    3 – Gray Catbirds
    1 – Northern Parula
    5 – Cape May Warblers (3 males & 2 females)
    1 – Black-throated Blue Warbler (male)
    2 – Prairie Warblers
    1 – Blackpoll Warbler (female)
    2 – Palm Warblers
    1 – Yellow Warbler (male)
    1 – Ovenbird
    7 – Indigo Buntings
    1 – Orchard Oriole (female)

    Erik Haney


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