New Jersey beachgoers can swim comfortably as of early this week, a striking contrast to this time last year.
Thanks to days of onshore winds, predominately out of the northeast and east, ocean temperatures along the coast are in the lower 70s Tuesday, according to NOAA data.
In June 2017, a stretch of consistent southerly and westerly winds kept warmer water from flowing in from offshore and allowed colder water to rise to the surface, keeping ocean temperatures in the lower t0 middle 60s.
That’s below normal for late June.
But ocean temperatures will likely dip this week as winds turn toward the south Wednesday and Thursday and then the west for Friday. The current forecast has an onshore wind to develop on Saturday.
The fluctuation is typical during the summer when ocean temperatures peak in the middle to upper 70s in September. Solar radiation is also a significant factor as the water warms after weeks of summer heat.
And that’s the “ideal” temperatures, one researcher says.
“Most people like it to be at least in the mid to upper 70s,” said Josh Kohut, assistant professor of Physical Oceanography at Rutgers University and founding member of the university’s Coastal Ocean Observation Lab (COOL).
But it’s different for surfers, says Tim Husar, a year-round surfer at Seaside Park and Island Beach State Park who fishes often in Ocean County.
“Definitely the mid-60s is the sweet spot. Anything higher than that, like when you get water temperatures in the 70s, means that you don’t get much of a swell,” he told WHYY in 2014.