The ocean temperatures off the Jersey Shore were running several degrees above normal – 76.1 off Cape May this morning, compared with an average of, 69, and 73.4 off Atlantic City, where the average is 64.
The best explanation would be persistent southerly winds over the last several days, says Kristin Klein at the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly.
That would the result of the “Bermuda high” centered over the North Atlantic; since winds circulate clockwise around highs, the Shore would be getting winds predominately from the south.
The Jersey water temperatures aren’t representative of the general state of the world’s oceans – readings are near or below normal to the south and north along the Atlantic Coast.
That said, in its global-warming update on Monday, the National Climatic Data Center did note that the generally warm oceans drove worldwide temperatures to the highest for a May in the 135-year period of recordkeeping.
One factor in the ocean-temperature readings was the warming of waters in the tropical Pacific, where a full-blown El Nino event evidently is brewing.
In the weekly update issued on Monday, the Climate Prediction Center foresaw an 80 percent chance of El Nino during the fall and winter.
To qualify, temperatures over continent-size portion of the tropical Pacific have to remain significantly above normal for six months.
As observed here and elsewhere, El Nino tends to have a dampening effect on the Atlantic hurricane season.