Cold ocean water along the Jersey Shore is actually keeping some people out of the surf, and experts say the water has been pretty chilly for an unusually long period of time.
But it shouldn’t stay this way all summer, and could warm up pretty quickly and soon. Though until then, surfers in Margate were seen hitting the waves while wearing a wetsuit.
“I’m wearing it because you would be very cold without it,” said John Nugent, of Mays Landing.
The ocean temperature in Atlantic City on Friday, during the last week of July, was just about 58 degrees. Very few people were seen brave enough to try taking a dip.
“I came down expecting it to be a bit warmer than it was and it was a bit of a shock,” Phil Tribe, of Haddonfield, said. “It feels a little bit like daggers in your foot.”
Retired National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Eberwine said he can’t remember the cold water lasting this long into the summer, or it being so cold during summer.
Eberwine says the surf temperature took a tumble about 10 days ago — with some of the coldest water in the past 5 days.
The reason: an unusually long stretch of upwelling. That happens when winds push warmer surface water offshore and deeper, colder water rises up to replace it.
“This is kind of an anomaly,” said Dave Werner, a marine sciences teacher at Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science in Ocean County and an adjunct professor at Stockton University.
“We typically have upwelling in short segments, maybe two to three days where we get the southwesterly flow,” he said.
The average ocean water temperature for this time of year is about 70 degrees. Experts say parts of the Jersey Shore might finally get to that point again by the end of the weekend.
“What will really bring it back is a stiff northeast wind,” said Eberwine.
Still, there are some benefits to the colder water sticking around for longer.
“I’m hoping it warms up a bit but the colder water does keep some of the crowd out, which is nice,” said Tribe.
And for some, the biting chill comes with a different benefit — as a young girl pointed out, the cold water means fewer jellyfish.