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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Rapai

Might a Pacific typhoon prevent a hurricane from destroying KW habitat in The Bahamas?

Image from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Typhoon Haikui slammed into Taiwan a couple of days ago and did considerable damage with wind gusts reaching 120 mph. Now, you might be thinking that we here at the Alliance have lost our minds. What does a typhoon in Taiwan have to do with Kirtland's Warbler conservation? Well, hang on and find out.

Everything on this rock in space that we call Earth is connected in one way or another and the typhoon that hit Taiwan over the weekend, believe it or not, has the potential to prevent a disaster in The Bahamas next week. Strong typhoons in the Pacific can alter the track of the jet stream, a current of strong air in the atmosphere that directs weather. The strength of the typhoon caused the jet stream to buckle, and that ripple in the jet stream will eventually cross the Pacific Ocean and impact weather here in North America. Locally, the jet stream will form a trough over the Great Lakes that will usher cooler than normal temperatures into the jack pines.

So what does this have to do with The Bahamas? The answer is Hurricane Lee. Now do not lay any bets on what we are about to say because weather is dynamic - it's constantly changing. But as Hurricane Lee develops into a major hurricane in the eastern Atlantic, it's going to head west. Models currently are predicting it to pass north of the Leeward Islands and head straight for the central Bahamas -- the primary wintering grounds for Kirtland's Warblers. And by the time is closes in on the archipelago, it's likely to be a Cat 5 storm!

But remember that trough over the Great Lakes caused by that typhoon on the other side of the world? If all says the same between now and the middle of next week, that trough in the jet stream -- caused by the typhoon -- will act as a big barrier. It has the potential to prevent Hurricane Lee from making a direct hit on The Bahamas and it could very well usher this humdinger of a storm right back out into Atlantic, sending it northeast to the place where hurricanes go to die.

And if this scenario does indeed end up playing out, you can thank a typhoon half a world away from preventing a potential catastrophe. Try to remember that while you are putting an extra blanket on your bed.

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