First a safety warning: NEVER, and we mean NEVER, venture out onto Beekman Road when it is not closed. It is simply not safe. The road is very dark and drivers often go very fast and are not expecting anyone out there. And be extremely careful crossing Church Lane to get to Beekman Road, cars drive fast and there are no shoulders.
This is the time of the year when we worry constantly about predicting the salamander migration and check every weather outlet every 10 minutes. With the spotted salamanders we found on the road Saturday night and the impending rain this evening we are expecting to close Beekman Road tonight for the first time this year. We typically close the road anywhere from 4 to 10 nights depending on what the season seems to be doing. Predicting salamander migrations is a tricky enterprise balancing rainfall amounts, rainfall timing, air temperature, humidity and time of year. Other factors like cloud cover, ground temperature and barometric pressure are important factors too. But for us, after 10 years it still boils down largely to an educated guess! Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we close the road and have nothing but a dark, wet, empty stretch of pavement.
The spotted salamander population along Beekman Road is the last place in town where they survive. Not protecting these populations means losing something that is irreplaceble and part of our town's natural heritage. We all owe a huge kudos to the town for recognizing their importance and commiting to protecting them over the past 10 years. While there are other amphibian protection programs now in New Jersey, East Brunswick was one of the first and continues to be the only town-run effort in the state to save local amphibians.
Spotted salamander migrations to the vernal pools typically occur in waves with a number of small movements and often one big movement. Males generally head to the pools ahead of females, sometimes many days earlier, waiting in the vernal pools for the females to arrive on some subsequent rainy night. We think tonight could have some movement given what we saw on Saturday night and the likelyhood that rain will begin falling around dark and then continue heavy throughout the night. One factor of concern is that temperatures will be falling at the same time. We generally want to see temperatures in the mid 40's coincident with rain and they may be a bit lower than that tonight. But we always try to err on the side of the salamanders just in case we are wrong. Here are two links to the local weather that we regularly follow - NOAA (http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lat=40.42770&lon=-74.4165&unit=0&lg=english&FcstType=graphical) and The Weather Channel (http://www.weather.com/weather/hourbyhour/graph/East+Brunswick+NJ+08816:4:US?pagenum=2&nextbeginIndex=6)
Here is the NOAA on-staff meterologist's Forecast Discussion from 4:49 am:
NEAR TERM /UNTIL 6 PM THIS EVENING/...HIGH PRESSURE NORTHEAST OF THE AREA WILL CONTINUE TO MOVE AWAY TODAY. LOW PRESSURE WILL MOVE INTO THE LOWER OHIO VALLEY WHILE A SECOND LOW STARTS TO DEEPEN OVER THE CAROLINAS. THESE FEATURES WILL BRING INCREASING CLOUDS THIS MORNING AND PRECIPITATION LATE THIS AFTERNOON. TEMPERATURES WILL SUPPORT MOSTLY RAIN WITH SOME SLEET (WELL WEST/NORTH) LATE TODAY. TEMPERATURES SHOULD REACH THE MID OR UPPER 40S SOUTH AND LOW TO MID 40S NORTH. THE SRN POCONOS WILL MOSTLY REMAIN IN THE 35 TO 40 DEGREE RANGE FOR HIGHS TODAY.
SHORT TERM /6 PM THIS EVENING THROUGH 6 AM WEDNESDAY/...PRECIPITATION WILL CONTINUE TO OVERSPREAD THE AREA TONIGHT AND THENEND FROM S/W TO N/E TOWARD DAWN WED. PRECIPITATION TYPE WILL BE RAIN OVER MOST OF THE AREA...
And a HUGE WORD OF CAUTION! NEVER, and we mean NEVER, venture out onto Beekman Road when it is not closed. It is simply not safe. The road is very dark and drivers often go very fast and are not expecting anyone out there. Visit the road when we close it and with some luck you will get to see a big fat Spotted salamander crossing the road. We guarantee when you do, you will never forget it!