By Stewart Dobson
(Feb. 27, 2015) This February’s deep freeze notwithstanding, the past nine weeks of actual winter haven’t been quite as cold on the Maryland coast as last year’s brutal season. At least, that’s what many people have said. And they would be wrong.
Because of an especially bitter February, the average temperature for the winter of 2014-15 has been slightly lower than it was last year, according to data collected in Ocean City by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
That’s right in Ocean City, too, rather than at the Ocean City Airport, the data from which is almost always used in weather reporting by online services and other media.
NOAA has maintained a weather station on a bulkhead down near the Ocean City Inlet since 1978. Its primary function is to measure tides and currents, but it also records wind speeds and the temperatures of the air and water. In addition, its historical records can be extracted and downloaded over the Internet by anyone who’s interested.
What these data also show is how much water temperature affects the air around it.
In other words, the influence of water temperature is why Ocean City’s winters are a little warmer (really) and the summers a little cooler than they are farther inland.
The lowest recorded temperature for February at the airport, for instance, was minus 6, while the inlet station’s lowest figure was a balmy plus six, a number it hit three times this month.
Until that February artic plunge, however, temperatures were up slightly over the year before.
The average temperature for the winter weeks of December, from Dec. 22-31, was 1.2 degrees warmer than it was for the same period last year.
January was almost 2.4 degrees warmer overall than last January. Then came this exceptionally bitter February, when the average temperature plummeted by almost 8 degrees below what it had been in February 2014.
Adding that difference to the equation makes this winter 1.3 degrees colder overall than it was in those same week last year.
And the good news/bad news? There are still three weeks until spring – and even that offers no guarantees in these parts.
The NOAA’s Ocean City station is listed online at http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov. The full address to go directly to the station is http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/stationhome.html?id=8570283.˚