As the weather warms up, so does the Sound. There is a noticeable delay or lag in how ocean temperatures rise…Let’s take a look at the ocean temperatures and their affects, with the focus being on New London.
The average ocean temperature through January and February is fairly steady in the mid-30s. The salt in the ocean, not to mention the depth and wave action, helps most areas stay above freezing. As the air temperatures warm up, we gradually see those water temperatures go up.
As air temperatures begin to rise into the 40s on a regular basis, if not warmer, we see the water turn milder. The average water temperature in March nudges up to 40 degrees. Since water temperatures change at a much slower rate than land, we only see those readings inch towards the mid-40s by the end of the month. Even though inland areas may reach the 50s or even 60s, any wind flow from the ocean keeps the coastline much cooler.
This is a “fun” month for those who live along the shoreline. It’s not uncommon for inland areas to surge into the 60s and 70s, but any sea-breezes will keep the shoreline down in the 40s. Yuck. Nothing is worse than a beautiful, warm spring day being ruined by a wind off of the Long Island Sound. The average ocean temperature starts the month int he mid-40s, but does increase to the lower 50s by the end of the month. On the bright side, winds off the water can help keep nighttime temperatures milder as well. Northern parts of Connecticut may still have nights in the 20s, but wind off the water will generally keep the shoreline in the 40s.
Spring really gets going as everything is now green and the flowers have bloomed. Air temperatures rise into the 60s and 70s, which helps slowly warm the waters. It’s still too chilly for most beach-goers, as average ocean temperatures have only reached 60 degrees by the end of the month. While a city like Hartford or Willimantic may be lucky enough to hit 80 degrees, sea-breezes still commonly keep the shoreline in the 60s, if not the 50s.
Finally, those beaches start to open the water is continuing to warm up. The average ocean temperature is 67 degrees by the end of the month, which isn’t too bad. It may not be as warm as the Florida coast, but it sure helps you cool off. Consider that 90-degree days do happen in June, although the immediate coast has a tougher time getting that warm.
Looking at our history, most Connecticut and New England hurricanes happen in August and September. Ever wonder why? Well, the ocean temperatures are generally too chilly for any tropical systems before that. The water temperatures are still rising and hurricanes like waters in the 70s, or warmer. But think back to how water takes longer to warm up than land…once the ocean turns warmer in the summer, it stays relatively warm through August and September. Even though October has cooled off dramatically, it is still not completely unusual for a tropical system to swing up the coast that late in the year.