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  • Eagle #N99 Surges North With the Wind
    Contributed by Meteorologist Glen Schuster
    RST2 Project

    Note: According to satellite-tracking data, Bald Eagle #N 99 flew 166 miles northward sometime between March 18th and 20th. Here's how a meteorologist views the trip. You can analyze weather data just as he has done while following this migration. See the Classroom Lesson, "Weather Forecast for the Birds".

    "What follows is a little story about a surge northward, explained by weather imagery and maps. Weather allowed Eagle #99 to make a surge Northward between March 18th-March 20th. The weather maps for those days reveal interesting weather features that contributed to the movement of our flying friend. Best time to catch the wind---late on the 19th and the 20th. Here's what happened:

    March 18th
    "On March 18, when #99 actually went a bit South; there was good reason. There was a northerly wind flow from the north. Why? High pressure over Michigan, and Low pressure centered over Newfoundland put the squeeze on, and both contributed to the wind. A cold front went through on the 17th.

    "The Newfoundland Low pressure area provided counterclockwise northerly flow. This combined with a Northerly flow from the clockwise circulation around the Michigan High, ehich made for what appeared to be difficult 'flying' weather. However by morning skies had begun to clear.

    "Infrared satellite imagery shows mid-level stratus, and visible imagery appears to show just a few cumulus and some snow cover over the Catskills.

    March 19th
    "But March 19 showed different maps. Since weather systems generally move from West to East, the High pressure over Michigan moved East and was sitting basically over the Eagle's region. That meant the air just sat overhead and the winds died down. It proved to be a good day to move Northward.

    "Infrared satellite imagery shows clear skies, as does the visible imagery. That means that with rising air radiating from earth, it's a free ticket Northward.

    March 20th
    "This set up for continued success for the 20th. With an approaching warm front, just to the south of New York State, the wind flow around Low Pressure to the West of the area was from the South. Since warm air flows over cold air, this means that just above the surface, the warm air, with winds blowing from the South makes its entrance first. What a great time to stay ahead of the clouds to the south.

    "Although skies were mostly cloudy, winds at the surface were southerly. high resolution polar imagery showed mid-level stratus clouds (with the warm front). Visible imagery shows they weren't thick so there was probably a good amount of radiation making it to the surface, for some more thermal transporting."

    Meteorologist Glen Schuster
    U.S. Satellite Laboratory, Tarrytown, NY
    RST2 Project Staff

    About RST2
    RST2 stands for "Revitalizing Science Teaching Using Remote Sensing Technology". This NSF-funded science education project uses remote sensing technology to teach meteorology to elementary students. RST2 students are predicting the movement of our migrating eagles this spring using satellite imaging and weather data.