First it was the look. Now it’s the feel.
Earlier this summer, tropically tinted turquoise waters made a green splash off South Jersey.
This week, it’s the water temperature, not the color, that is making waves.
The water temperature off Steel Pier in Atlantic City soared to 83.3 degrees at 6 p.m. Wednesday, delighting swimmers and surfers with a tropically warm ocean.
There’s definitely something in the ocean water that has South Jersey beachgoers all abuzz.
That temperature was the warmest ever recorded at Steel Pier, and 10 degrees above the average mid-August ocean temperature of 73.
It was also only five degrees cooler than the waters off Key West, Florida, which were 88.3 degrees at the same time late Wednesday.
According to meteorologist Jim Eberwine, who has closely tracked South Jersey water temperatures for decades, the previous record for the Steel Pier was 83.1, set July 31, 2011. Water temperature records at Steel Pier date back to 1912.
Eberwine said warm water in 2011 was followed by a significant upwelling event a week later, which caused the water temperature to drop well into the 60s due to southwest winds.
Today’s weather in one word: ick.
Winds are forecast to be from the southwest the rest of this week and through the weekend, so Eberwine said that some upwelling is expected and that the 80-degree water will probably fade.
Sure enough, the ocean temperature as of 2 p.m. Thursday was still warm, but had dropped to about 78.
But Eberwine thinks the upwelling may not be as pronounced as in years past.
“The warm water seems to be deeper than usual over the last few years, which has led to more modest temperature drops during upwelling events,” Eberwine said.
The warmer water, while certainly enjoyable, also has a few less than desirable byproducts, including an increased number of jellyfish, as well as seaweed.
Eberwine said the warmer water is due to persistent onshore winds from the east and southeast for more than a week, which has pushed the warmer offshore waters close to South Jersey beaches.