I took a twitter poll recently to determine what’s a beach day? As you might expect there isn’t universal agreement on the criteria, but a majority of you thought it was when temperatures got over 80 degrees. Thus far it’s been a cool spring. Most coastal areas haven’t reached 80 degrees and although Portland briefly hit that mark on April 21, we haven’t done it since. This is all going to change dramatically Wednesday as sunshine and very warm to even hot temperatures come blasting into southern New England.

What do you consider a beach day?

Wednesday and Thursday are the two beachiest days ahead. Tomorrow, as a westerly wind takes over, temperatures will be forced upwards over 80 degrees and approaching 90 over interior southwest New Hampshire! This type of dramatic change will be very noticeable and our tolerance for the heat will be lower than usual.

Since these are the first beach days of the season, here are a few things to remember. High and low tides occur about every 12 hours. Each high tide is slightly different, being a bit higher or lower than the previous one. This is why sometimes you find seaweed has been moved further up on the beach after an unusually high tide cycle.

Notice on the tide chart below that height of the water at high tide is increasing this weekend.  This also means the levels of the water at low tide are decreasing or, put another way, the gap between the two is widening. These numbers are for Portland. You’ll find similar numbers all along the New Hampshire and Maine coastline. Always check your local tide charts for specific times and heights.

Upcoming Tides Portland, Maine

Upcoming Tides Portland, Maine

Winds can be a factor on a beach day. The wind Wednesday will make less than an ideal beach day because they will be gusty. Having sand blown all over you isn’t exactly “a day at the beach.”

Thursday’s temperatures will still exceed 80 degrees from about Portland south, but a sea breeze will keep the rest of the coastline in the lower 70s and even 60s, still a very nice day.

The strength of the ultraviolet rays from the sun is strongest for the next two months. These are the days you can not only get burned in the middle of the day, but even after 3 p.m the sun is strong enough to cause skin damage. Don’t forget the sunscreen if you are going to be out in the sun, especially at the beach where the sand and water reflect more of the sun’s rays.

If you are taking a dip in the ocean be prepared for a shock. Water temperatures are still only in the lower 50s.

Current water temperatures

Current water temperatures

Friday a cooler flow from the ocean will keep temperatures in the lower 70s. This cooler more typical type of temperature pattern will be with us through the upcoming holiday weekend. While it won’t be hot, it will still be rather nice to be at the beach.

There could be a few scattered showers during these transitions from warm to cooler air and back again, but there’s a widespread rain in our future.

I’ll be updating the forecast on Twitter @growingwisdom. Please follow me there.

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