What do scientists think was trapped in Hurricane Arthur off the Carolina coast?

What do scientists think was trapped in Hurricane Arthur off the Carolina coast? (Image 1)

Scientists have captured images of Hurricane Arthur just off the NC coast that show what they believe is a huge flock of birds caught in the eye of the storm.

The severe weather and radar research group at the University of Alabama at Huntsville has studied various radar images from last week’s storm.

They also followed reports of birds appearing in odd places in the US after the storm.

The image in question was taken on July 3 from the coast of NC at Morehead City, the scientists said.

“The left panel is your typical radar reflectivity image. The right panel is a new radar product called ‘Differential Reflectivity’ only available since the upgrade to dual-polarization radar technology. It shows the difference in reflectivity between raindrops measured by a horizontal radar beam versus a vertical one,” scientists wrote.

Since most raindrops, snowflakes, and hailstones are close to being completely round, ‘differential reflectivity’ is usually small: 0 to 2 dB, the scientists say.

 However in the eye of Arthur they see “huge differential reflectivity values in the 6 to 7 dB range.”

 What could be that much wider (more reflective horizontally) than vertical?

“The answer, we believe, is birds. Hurricanes have been known to trap sea-faring birds in the eye and carry them along with the storm, depositing them hundreds or even thousands of miles from home. Hurricane Hugo back in 1989 took hundreds of seabirds into western North Carolina, depositing them on lakes near Charlotte. There is already one report of Hurricane Arthur depositing a Black Skimmer on a Canadian beach almost 1000 miles from North Carolina.”

A link to a study showing more images from Hurricane Irene and Sandy was also included. That study from the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Nebraska–Lincoln tries to further explain the science behind the claims.

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