Why is the Ocean Still So Cold? [AUDIO]
Stepping outside may feel like walking into a sauna lately, but dip a toe into the ocean and it’ll feel like an ice bath.
July brought temperatures that skirt the triple digits, however, the thermometer has been reading as low as the upper 50s for water temperatures all month.
Mitchell Gaines, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly New Jersey, says strong winds from south and east are rising up the colder and denser water from the bottom of the ocean, and mixing it in with the shallower and warmer waters – creating an upwelling effect.
“Generally, we’ve been seeing wind direction out of the south and even the east, and we want to see that wind direction switch around to the west.”
However, the cold water hasn’t been deterring visitors to the beach. Seaside Park Life Guard Captain Joe Gomulka says the warm weather still brings people out in droves, they’re just not going into the water as much.
“So it has kept people at bay, so we don’t have a ton of swimmers in the water.”
Gomulka says with the threat of rip currents made especially worse this year because of Sandy, having less people is helpful.
“It’s been a little better for us as lifeguards that we don’t have to deal with a mass of people and having a lot of rescues to be made.”
For beach goers, craving a slightly warmer ocean to swim in, Gaines says even without the needed westerly winds, the warm air temperature should heat up the water some.
However, the cold water hasn’t been stopping some brave swimmers, nor the lifeguards tasked with keeping the shore safe. Gomulka says they still conduct daily training exercises and many are used to the cold water.
He does point out, though, going from the hot air to cold water can be extremely dangerous for the unprepared.
“If it was a hot sunny day and you jump into cold water, you can shock your body and literally pass out.”