Short of stepping outside, the ferry is our best low-tech weather forecaster. If you can hear their horns clearly, a lovely southern breeze promises a decent day. If you hear nothing at all, beware, a nor’easter may be blowing in soon.
Far more sophisticated, though, is the NOAA buoy weather station that sits right in our neighborhood, just feet away from where the ferries port each night. (Yes, I know, it’s not a buoy.)
Sitting by the water’s edge like an awkward cousin of C-3PO, this station collects real-time data available to all of us, a high-tech center that collects pretty much any type of data you could want (and plenty of data you might never have thought of before).
For most of us, the temperature, wind speed/direction, and water temperature tell us what we need to know on a given day. When a nor’easter rolls in on the heels of a moon tide, you can watch the water level rise in real time as well look at extremes in the past.
(Just under six years ago the water rose three feet over the mean high tide burying North Wildwood. Two years later the bay receded 2 ½ feet befuddling the ferry captains while delighting any clammers braving the January blow. )
As the days get chillier you can watch the rate of ice accretion as the Delaware Bay starts to freeze over.
You can wander to the ferry terminal to see the equipment (but it won’t tell you much) or you can explore the page below available to everyone. Few towns get this kind of information, and it is literally right in our neighborhood.
(You could just take a walk on the beach.)