Jersey Shore water temperatures soar into the 80s, setting a record

Anthony R. Wood
The Philadelphia Inquirer

The water temperature off Atlantic City, New Jersey, reached a record 83.8 degrees on the official government gauge Tuesday night, setting a record — 28 degrees warmer than it was two weeks ago.

The previous record, 83.3, was set on Aug. 10, 2016, said Jim Eberwine, retired marine meteorologist at the National Weather Service Office in Mount Holly, and now Absecon’s emergency management chief. The water temperature data dates to 1912.

During “upwelling” events in late July and earlier this month, the toe-chilling waters dipped into the mid-50s – 55.8 on Aug. 10.

The surf temperature at Atlantic City has since rebounded and then some. It hit the record 83.8 at 9:42 p.m. Tuesday, according to the NOAA gauge. At 10:20 Wednesday morning, it was 82.2, quite close to what it was off the northern Florida coast.

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The oceanic mood swings have everything to do with the winds, which recently have emphatically routed the conditions that had made the surf fit for a wet suit, said Paul Fitzsimmons, a lead meteorologist at the Mount Holly office.

Persistent winds from the south that cooked the region with intense heat July into August had a chilling effect on the Jersey Shore surf.

Working in tandem with the spin of the Earth, they drove the warm layers near the surface offshore, allowing the colder water below to replace them, said Michael Crowley, with the Rutgers University Center for Ocean Observing Leadership.

Fitzsimmons said that the upwelling along the Jersey Shore was a regional effect. “When the temperatures were cold, they were still quite warm in other places,” he said.

The changes in wind directions clearly have made a huge difference. They having been blowing from the west and northwest since the early-morning hours of Tuesday.

Warm surf temperatures aren’t unusual in late August. “This is the time of the year when the water temperatures are at the highest,” Fitzsimmons said.

But not this high.

Swimmers in Ocean City, New Jersey, are experiencing record water temperatures at the Jersey Shore.