Cold Fronts and Winds
Contributed by Dr. William Calvert
easy to see why monarchs come in on cold fronts - "northers"
they are called in Texas and probably other southern states. It's like
catching a bus going your way - in this case the ride is even free!
probably ride the layer of uplifted air associated with the advancing
edge of these cold fronts. (For more help in visualizing of a cold front,
Today's cold front graphic.)
But that is not all the butterflies ride. They generally move with any
wind that has a northerly component, and may still be seen traveling days
after the front has past. They may also migrate in not-so-strong southerly
winds! In these cases, they are often found flying low to the ground and
are very noticeable.
The curious thing is that times with strong north winds are NOT the times
that the migrating monarchs are most noticeable. In many cases they fly
high above everyone and may even be beyond the vision of the naked eye.
People used to the appearance of monarchs during a certain season often
complain that the monarch population is way down during a particular year
when what has really happened is that the monarchs have over flown them
on favorable winds and have landed somewhere to the south.
It is counter intuitive, but the times when we get the most spectacular
reports to the Texas Monarch Watch Hotline is when the winds are blowing
fairly strong from the south. Winds with a strong southerly component
cause the monarchs to behave differently. They spend this time looking
for nectar to refuel. This means that they are searching and accumulating
in low (riparian) areas near rivers and streams where most nectar is found
in Texas during the fall. In these low areas they are out of the wind
which might damage their wings and in the flowers where they can feed.
Sometime they accumulated by the tens of thousands and dazzle those who
are lucky enough to stumble across them.
Fronts and the Wind
Wind direction BEFORE
blow from the south before a cold front arrives.
Wind direction AFTER
What happens after the front passes?
your mouse on the map and see!