Why does the wind direction vary near the ocean?

March 19, 2008 11:44:46 AM PDT
The ocean plays a key role in wind direction at both of the locations you mentioned. If the ocean is cooler than the water, the wind usually blows inland off the ocean. This is called a "seabreeze front".

Erica's Answer:

But if the water is milder than the land, the wind will often blow in the direction of the ocean, which is west-to-east for Lewes, DE and Cape May, NJ. Since Cape May is almost completely surrounded by water, its wind direction is very similar to that of the ocean. Lewes, however, is much more strongly influenced by the large amount of land mass to its west. In Lewes, the wind direction on dry land and the wind direction in the open waters of the ocean are competing with each other. The result is a wind that is completely unique and different from that in Cape May!

By the way, the same "land vs. ocean" influence happens in places other than Lewes, such as Ocean City, NJ!

- Erica