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Wind keeps warm water close to shore

By ALAN RAPPEPORT Staff Writer, (609) 272-7219
Press of Atlantic City

Paul LaVigne didn't expect to see dolphins off the coast of Brigantine in mid-October.

This year, as ocean water temperatures have remained unseasonably warm for an unusual amount of time, LaVigne can't miss them.

"I thought they'd be gone by now," LaVigne, 60, said. "It's definitely been a lot warmer later."

Water temperatures are just now starting to drop to normal averages, but the National Weather Service said that this past warm-water season has been one of the five warmest since 1911.

"It's been consistently warm," said Jim Eberwine, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.

Eberwine said that the cause for the warmer water temperatures is a lack of the usual southwesterly winds, which carry the warmer water offshore.

Instead, the winds have been blowing the opposite direction, he said, keeping the warmer water close to the shore.

The result has been more warm-water fish like the wahoo, which are rarely seen in this area, Eberwine said.

Those looking for stripers this season have had to look a little harder for the cool-water fish.

Last year, Ron Devine caught his first striper Sept. 9. This year, he nabbed his first catch Monday.

"It's not like other years," Devine, 60, of Brigantine said.

The warm water has made this year different in other ways, too. Warm water in the Atlantic Ocean had something to do with the barrage of hurricanes last month, according to Eberwine. Hurricanes, he said, are fueled by higher temperatures.

"We've had several occasions where it hit 80 degrees," Eberwine said. The record high water temperature in this area is 83 degrees.

As of Tuesday, temperatures seem to be getting back to normal. Water temperatures in southern New Jersey ranged between 62 degrees and 64 degrees, Eberwine said. The normal average for this time of year is 63 degrees.
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