Saturday, January 31, 2015

Water's warm; very warm

Off Cape May, surf is off the charts.

Water's warm; very warm

So far the atmosphere has behaved gently this month, with heat sparse and temperatures generally close to where they should be in June, something we haven't seen in awhile.

But as our colleague Jackie Urgo has noted, the ocean temperatures off the Jersey and Delaware coasts have been closer to where they should be in July and August.

This morning, the surf temperature off Cape May was an unreal 75.2. That's 6 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, and the highest "normal" temperature at any point of the summer is 74.

At Atlantic City, the ocean temperature was 67.3, about 5 degrees above normal. Here is the water-temperature chart.

What is perhaps odd is that in general, the North Atlantic has been on the cool side, relative to normal.

You'll see on the temperature anomaly map, however, that the Jersey-Delaware coast constitutes an island of warmth.

The local warmth probably is due to an above-normal number of days with onshore winds, said Tony Gigi, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.

Strong winds from the west or south can blow away the warm surface waters, the way we route steamy heat by blowing on a cup of hot coffee.

When that happens, a dreaded "upwelling" of colder waters can turn the surf icy in a hurry, creating a beach-space shortage and making the lifeguards' days easier.

Meantime enjoy. It should be a splendid weekend at the Shore, and along the Delaware and Schuylkill.

Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
About this blog

Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

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Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
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