North American Birds

VOLUME 69 No1 2016

A Quarterly Journal of Ornithological Record Published by the American Birding Association. The mission of the journal is to provide a complete overview of the changing panorama of our continent’s birdlife.

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36 N O R T H A M E R I C A N B I R D S The Changing Seasons: Outposts The Changing Seasons: Outposts PAUL E. LEHMAN • 11192 PORTOBELO DRIVE • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA 92124 • (LEHMAN.PAUL@VERIZON.NET) EDWARD S. BRINKLEY • 124 PEACH STREET • CAPE CHARLES, VIRGINIA 23310 • (THALASSOICA@GMAIL.COM) The Weather The year 2014 is now well back in the rear view mirror, and we know that in the Lower 48 states, the year was not the hottest on record but rather tied with 1977 for the thirty-fourth warmest (in 120 years of records), coming in at a half- degree Fahrenheit above the twentieth-century average. Notwithstanding this one unremark - able year, with each decade over the past twelve, the temperature has risen by an average of 0.13° F. Precipitation amounts in the Lower 48 have also increased, by 0.36 cm (0.14 in.) each de - cade. For those who have birded for many de- cades across the United States, this warmer/ wetter trend will be apparent, despite terrible droughts in the West; the pattern is also seen in the 67-year record in Canada. Once again this year, there were stark differences between East and West: from the Rockies westward, we saw record- or near-record warmth, whereas temper - atures from the Great Plains eastward were near or below average, with a remarkable swath from the western Great Lakes south through the west - ern Gulf Coast states being much below average (Figure 1). The trends of autumn 2014 were generally consistent with the annual trends overall. August was close to average in the Lower 48 states (just 0.1° F above long-term average); only Florida, New England, and the West Coast had above- average temperatures, whereas the mid-Atlantic states and Southwest had well below. Precipita - tion totals were notably higher than in recent years, a half-inch above average, making August the eleventh wettest on record. Montana was record wettest, and seven other western states in the northern Great Plains, northern Rockies, and Great Basin had top-ten wet Augusts; fash fooding was severe in Phoenix and several other cities and communities during monsoon sea - son. By contrast, the southern Great Plains and the East were below average, but locally storms were extreme, bringing fash foods to Detroit 11 August and breaking New York's state's all-time record for rainfall (set only in August 2011, with Hurricane Irene) with 34.8 cm (13.7 in.) of rain in 24 hours at Islip, Long Island 12-13 August. By the end of the month, drought conditions had abated substantially: in early June, 37.3% of the lower 48 was under some sort of drought ranking, but this had dropped to 32.8% by the end of August. The southwestern quadrant of the continent began to improve, but Texas and the Southeast were still categorized as suffering widespread drought. September warmed up, being overall 1.3° F warmer in the Lower 48. Once again, the West made headlines on the warming front—Califor - nia, Nevada, and Utah had top-ten warmest Sep- tembers—but values in the East were also above average. The Plains and the Midwest remained at or below average for the month, as refected in those regional reports. Alaska continued warmer than average, marking its eleventh warmest Sep - tember since records began there in 1918 (about 2.5° F above the average for 1971-2000); some western Alaskan stations recorded their warmest September ever. Precipitation totals in the Lower 48 were rather close to average, but this "aver - age" is deceptive, as the Southwest had heavy monsoonal rains that gave Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah top-ten wet Septembers to balance the dry September in the East. Also memorable, 10- 11 September saw a very early snow storm in the northern Great Plains and Rockies; Mount Rush - more set a record with 20.6 cm (8.1 in.) of snow for such an early date. By month's end, drought listings added up to just 30.6% in the Lower 48. October baked: at 3.0° F above the long-term average, it was the fourth warmest October on record in the Lower 48 states. Every state west of the Rockies logged a top-ten warmest Octo - ber, including Alaska (ffth warmest ever), but the Northeast, Great Plains, and South also had above-average warmth. Alaska's warmth in recent years continues to coincide with below- average sea ice around the state, especially to the north: Barrow has seen October average temper - atures above 20° F for thirteen consecutive years, whereas before 2002, that would occur only once every fve years on average. Overall, pre - cipitation totals in the Lower 48 provided for an "average" month, again because of extremes: the Great Basin states were bone dry (ffth driest ever for Nevada and Utah), whereas the Mississippi River valley had abundant rains, with Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee noting top-ten wet Oc - tobers. By the end of the month, drought rank- ings for the Lower 48 had not changed much (at 29.6%), but more than half of California was classifed as suffering Exceptional Drought, and neighboring Nevada, Arizona, and Oregon were also covered with drought categories. In the big picture, November brought the winter hammer down: it was the sixteenth cold - est in the record (since 1895), at 2.4° F below the twentieth-century average. And it would have been ranked even more notoriously, had California not recorded its ninth warmest No - vember, along with above-average warmth in Record Coldest (1) Much Below Average STATEWIDE AVERAGE TEMPERATURE RANKS January–December 2014 Period: 1895–2014 Below Average Near Average Above Average Much Above Average Record Warmest (120) Figure 1. Rankings of average temperatures, by state, for 2014. Map courtesy of, and copyright, the National Climatic Data Center/NOAA.

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