Hot air, cold water — upwelling might be worse than greenheads

An endless bummer: Air is hot; surf is notThe Inky

For Shore visitors, the irony is cruel: Go to the beach to escape hyperthermia – and risk hypothermia.

Coastal scientists and weather experts say the icy water and oppressive air are inextricably linked.

“The warmer summers have some of the coldest coastal ocean water,” said David A. Robinson, a Rutgers University professor and the state climatologist.

The same persistent winds from the south and southwest that are yanking warm surface water from the South Jersey coast have blanketed the land with thick, tropical air.

The source of the winds is a large area of high pressure over the North Atlantic: the “Bermuda high,” so called because it typically is centered near Bermuda. Winds circulate clockwise around high centers, so areas to the west experience south breezes.

“This is a very persistent southerly wind,” said Scott Glenn, a Rutgers coastal scientist. South winds were reported in Atlantic City on 26 days in July, according to the National Weather Service.

Cold surf – the result of upwelling, in which chilled water rises to replace warm water at the surface – isn’t unusual in South Jersey.

The water was pretty cold during our brief stay in Stone Harbor. Sunday, I did not get in, Monday was frigid, but Tuesday warmed up. Wednesday was foggy and the surf was poor, so I did not even bother.

Foggy family
Hopefully, we’ll get a photo like this annually and it will never be this foggy again.

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