This was posted to the dplex mailing list. Not good news:
Report from Mexico Draft, Lincoln Brower, 4 February 2010.
First killing winter storm for the 2009-2010 overwintering season. I am just off the phone (4:30PM EST) with colleagues in Mexico 4 February 2010. Pablo Span visited the Pelon colony when it was not raining on Tuesday 2 January and said there were more (presumably dead) monarch butterflies on the ground that he had ever before seen. Pablo reports that the local Peon guards told him that there are two colonies on Pelon, one called Carditos and the other La Costera. . According to our student, Raul Zubieta, there was a major winter storm occurring on the Sierra Chincua on Monday 1 February and that this likely has caused major mortality in all the colonies.
Second killer storm. Pablo also told me that very severe weather is currently impacting the whole area. At 6 AM on Wednesday 3 February heavy rain began falling and it is still raining at 5 PM on 4 February. He measured the rain on 3 February at the hotel at 3.5 inches. As of 740 PM 4 Feb, so far 15 inches of rain have fallen since Monday. Two groups of tourists attempted to visit the butterflies at Rosario today (4 Feb). The first group succeeded, but the second did not because a bridge between Ocampo and Rosario washed out. Pablo also said that the main highway bridge on Route 15 through Tuxpan washed out. LPB tried calling Mitzi Mancilla in Tuxpan but could not get through. Pablo also said that a colleague who lives near Crescencio Morales (located at the southern end of the Sierra Campanario – Rosario is at the northern end) reported serious flooding. The ejido Crescencio Morales has been illegally and massively clear cut in the past 4 years. It is likely that the erosion of the now barren former Oyamel forest area is extensive. Another colleague in Angangueo reported frightening rain for 48 hours and still raining as of noon 4 Feb. and that a house fell down killing three children. "Little we can do…..".
Check out the Angangueo weather report at :http://mx.weather.yahoo.com/m%C3%A9xico ... eo-112150/
The satellite image for 4 Feb (3:10 GMT) indicates that there is a storm crossing Mexico that is very similar to the January 2002 winter storm that killed 80% of the butterflies, Yesterday (3 Feb 2010) the above weather web site predicted a low of 1 degree C on Saturday, 5 February 2010. Today (4 Feb) it predicts a low of 0 degrees C. In Brower et al. (2004) we estimated that the Chincua Station temperature hit a low of -4.4 on the morning of 14 January 2002 This was 4.2 degrees colder than Angangueo. Given the unprecedented heavy rains, the monarchs in their clusters are likely soaking wet. If it hits -5 C in the colony, we can expect a mortality of up to 80% as occurred immediately following the 2002 storm. Tonight and tomorrow morning 5 February 2010 could be a serious killing event for all the monarchs overwintering in Mexico.
Brower, L.P., Kust, D.R., Rendon-Salinas, E., Serrano, E.G., Kust, K.R., Miller, J., Fernandez del Rey, C., & Pape, K. (2004). Catastrophic winter storm mortality of monarch butterflies in Mexico during January 2002. In The Monarch Butterfly. Biology and Conservation (eds K.S. Oberhauser & M.J. Solensky), pp. 151-166. Cornell University Press, Ithaca.