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‘Man, It Was Hot Out There’: Musings on Summer Heat Waves and the Other Kind of Waves

Also: Water Temps, Tropics and Events Heating Up
By JON COEN | Jul 24, 2019
Photo by: Matt Reittinger Storm swells. The most recent storm in our active weather pattern of late produced some solid surf Tuesday. Matt Reittinger’s self-portrait captures the anticipation. (Editor’s Note: Be careful out there, Matt.)

A man walks into a bar and says, “Man, it’s hot out there.”

Sounds like a great start to a joke, doesn’t it? His wife sits down with him on a barstool as the bartender looks over and she repeats, “Man, it’s hot out there.”

The barkeeper is in an air-conditioned barroom. However, he spent a good part of the morning retrieving bottles of liquor and cases of beer from a stockroom that was not so airy.

He is indeed aware that, man, it’s hot out there.

This bar could certainly be on Long Beach Island, or perhaps the mainland. The man and the woman are on vacation.

“We were just on the beach and it is so hot up there,” says the man.

“It’s just unbearable out there,” adds the woman.

The barkeep smiles and nods. He knows it’s hot out there. Every person who has sat at his bar today has reminded him that, man, it’s hot out there. He (or she) has a pretty good sweat going, running around, keeping drinks cold, tapping empty kegs and backing them up with new kegs from the same stifling stockroom. He’s glad he’s not working the patio or the roof deck.

The folks at the bar strike up a conversation with the patrons sitting next to them.

“Oh, I know. It’s hot out there,” they say.

“The beach was so hot.” “The sand was so hot.” “The road was so hot.”

The barkeep again nods in agreement, hustling to refill the ice bin and fighting with the taps pouring foam because of the temperature differences. He’s only half listening to the patrons as they spin yarns about their overheated misadventures in vacationland.

They, after all, chose to go to the beach, generally a nice place to go when it is hot out. The barkeep has no choice. He or she is at work so he can pay his or her heating bill in a few months when it is not so hot. But nevertheless, he or she is thankful they have chosen this island, this bar and this day shift to spend their money.

Old Bay rimmer on the Bloody Mary, craft beer, vodka martini … well, no one drinks gin martinis anymore.

“I mean, the asphalt must have been 300 degrees. My son forgot his flip-flops! He would have had fourth-degree burns on his feet. We had to go to the house and get the car and turn on the AC and go back to the beach to pick him up.”

The barkeep continues to work as his or her bits and pieces become uncomfortably sweaty.

“And we couldn’t get back up the street because there was a work truck pulling out of a driveway. They were blocking the whole road. You know, I don’t know why they allow those crews to work on houses during the busy season.”

“Oh, it’s the worst. Who was it?”

“I don’t know, something HVAC or something.”

“Well, I’m just glad we’re in here. It’s nice and cool in here. Excuse me, can we order some appetizers? I’d like the fried calamari and this baked lobster mac ’n cheese.”

The bartender nods again and smiles graciously, taking the order, wiping his brow and putting the ticket through to the kitchen.

The line cook takes the ticket.

He (or she) is also aware that it is hot and also grateful for the patrons enjoying the air-conditioned barroom.

The kitchen staff has been discussing the heat all day as well – heat rash, baby powder, salves, hydration and the exhaust fan that broke. The west side of the kitchen is now reading 130 degrees and they have yet to start happy hour; then comes the dinner rush until 10 p.m. followed by late night cleanup.

Another man walks into the bar.

“Man, it’s hot out there.”

HOT DAYS, HOT WAVES: LBI got “all hotted up” this past weekend. I know things get confusing with the “heat index” vs. the temperature but I am pretty certain we hit triple digits on Sunday. And many places of business did, in fact, close by Sunday evening on account of not having enough juice. And by that I mean power to the AC units as well as manpower. With so many local eateries hurting to find staff, they can’t afford anyone dying of heat exhaustion before the dreaded August rush.

We had high pressure over us and, for the most part, it really wasn’t any “cooler at the shore,” as the regional weather folks like to say. We had mostly west and southwest winds just smashing us with the hot air from inland. Hey, you could always jump in that ocean to cool off, though. It was freezing.

It sure did feel nice when it broke on Monday, though I have to say that I prefer those more dramatic endings to a heat wave where it goes from 102 to 81 in a two-hour span of atmospheric violence. But we’ll take it.

We were really due for some surf as well and we finally got it on Tuesday. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that this has been a mostly terrible July. June was not much better and it would be fair to call this a poor to abysmal summer, surfing-wise, thus far. One surfer who has been on every swell consistently since the ’60s called it one of the worst he has ever seen.

And then Tuesday happened. This was not a swell we were really expecting. Monday’s storm was pretty ferocious, but it was just one of four storms in July that have brought wind gusts and flooding to our area. I think the summer of 2019 has already claimed more cars than Superstorm Sandy.

But following the other storms we had, the surf was minimal at best. Hence we were just hoping for 2- to 3-foot surf. The wind switched earlier than anticipated on Tuesday morning and there was legitimate chest- to shoulder-high waves with some slightly bigger sets.

Keep in mind that we had two days that broke the waist-high mark in the first 23 days of July. It was a bit of a mad scramble to find boards and fins that have been lying dormant for months and then to scrape winter wax, hustle up to the beach and paddle out. If you went into full panic mode, that was totally acceptable. The swell had a pretty much perfect angle and the incoming tide brought peeling rights to pretty much all 18 miles of our Island with light crowds. There were even a few lefts out there. I think I heard a few screams of “hallelujah!” at the sight of the revived Atlantic. I surfed a very popular spot with about six heads over five blocks. It would be safe to assume that you could have found some quiet nook and had it all to yourself.

I assume that Tuesday afternoon was fun, but my editors were waiting for my column, which was already late, on account of the best waves of the summer.

Before Tuesday it hadn’t been totally flat. Last Friday and Saturday did offer a chance to ride a fish, groveler or something besides a longboard. Friday morning was mostly a disappointment, as we were looking forward to a few 3-foot waves that turned out to be 2-foot, weak and eventually foggy. But things did clear out and the afternoon did see a few punchier waves. Saturday was clean most of the day and also had a little bit of juice. But that was it, a few windows of maybe waist-high waves. All those new performance thrusters are just sitting on the racks of the surf shops wondering when they’ll ever be bought and ridden (until Tuesday). And other than that, it’s been a lot of longboard waves. And again, if you’re good with riding a log, you can get out there, see your friends, maybe enjoy some family time and certainly stay cool for an hour or two.

What we do have on the horizon is sketchy at best. While the Atlantic Basin is still about as exciting as Donald Trump’s dinner menu, we did see Tropical Depression Three form close to Florida, a popular place for storm formation this time of year. This was a rainmaker and didn’t have much time to develop before it dissipated. Now the remnants are getting caught up in the system currently moving across the country. So while we won’t see a proper hurricane swell, it could enhance whatever fetch forms offshore from the passing front. Fingers crossed.

The other possibility is groundswell from the South Atlantic. As I have mentioned in the past, Surfline has gotten very good at picking up on these swells that form between South America and Africa. Local Rich Huegi noted that 2-foot swell at 17 seconds arrived on Sunday from the last South Atlantic storm from mid-July. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures. These are really long-period swells. The more recent one was particularly strong. It blew up late in the weekend. The swell traveled thousands of miles and may arrive late week. At their best, these swells are pretty inconsistent. I’d rather see a quick hit windswell with short-period waves for a half a day than any of the above.

I should also note that the water has been cold, but you know that if you were at the beach at all. We’ve had a lot of upwelling, and while it’s not as frozen as it could be (we’ve certainly seen the ocean drop into the 50s in July), it has been prolonged. Some of the chillier days, you could find pockets of warmer water. Talk to some of the lifeguards who are paddling offshore and they will tell you the warm water isn’t far away. This suggests that we’re reaching a turning point in the summer where we may see some minor upwelling, but a lot of that water column is getting warmer and we should be enjoying temps in the high 60s and 70s through September. Upwelling is rare in August.

For surfers and even just the casual body surfers, bellyboarders and ocean enthusiasts, we are back to a morning and evening low tide again, so aim for those times to play in the ocean. Beyond that, the El Niño pattern is phasing out, which would indicate less wind shear in the Atlantic, which makes those systems coming off Africa more likely to flare up. August generally ramps up to the height of the season in September. Plus, Cape Verde storms tend to live a lot longer, creating more energy and more chance to deliver a wave.

MORE HOT TIMES ON LBI: It does seem we won’t see the temp go back to the “furnace” setting soon. Next week looks like highs in the upper 80s, but after what we just did, that’s a piece of (melting ice cream) cake. But the events are certainly heating up.

First off, Farias will host Roxy's Yoga Session at 8 a.m. on the 28th Street beach in Ship Bottom. This is a free class for all beach lovers. You are asked to bring your own yoga mat, towel and water bottle. Then from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ship Bottom Farias, Roxy will have an essential oil-making class to concoct your own custom fragrance.

That night, Volcom team riders Noa Deane and Ozzie Wright will be at Farias, also in Ship Bottom, starting at 5 p.m. These two surfers have had radical influence on surfing in different decades and they’re coming through with their artwork, food, drink and good times.

This Sunday is the much-anticipated Jetty Coquina Jam. You can read the full preview article in this issue, but in case you don’t, it’s Sunday morning, starting at 8 a.m. at 68th Street in Brant Beach. Featuring 32 teams of two female surfers, a sponsor village and cold clams on the beach (as well as other food and the K2 bar), this has become one of those feel-good LBI events. The beach has been packed the last few years with our community raising money for David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation and women battling cancer. I highly recommend experiencing it.

On Monday night, the Long Beach Dub All Stars, The Aggrolites and Mike Pinto play Bird & Betty’s. Since the All Stars have their long-ago roots in Sublime, it should be of interest to a few locals and surfers. Doors open at 9. Tickets are $25.

On July 31, the next episode of Just Beneath the Surface premiers at Fantasy Island at 8 p.m. This one takes a look at the very exciting oyster recycling program and the oyster reefs being created in the bay, while creating cleaner local waterways as well as the legacy of some of our big local events. I admittedly have some skin in the game, but this is free and will be shown on a huge screen in the park.

As we get into August, the Alliance for a Living Ocean LBI Longboard Classic is Aug. 10, and registration is now open. I just hope it isn’t that scorching on the beach for any of these upcoming events. “Man, is it hot out there ...”

joncoen@thesandpaper.net

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