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Why does the weather often vary drastically between Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach?

David Morrison
StarNews

Crowds enjoy the sunny weather around the Kure Beach Pier on Saturday, July 18, 2009. Staff Photo By Matt Born/Wilmington Star-News.

Q. Why does the weather oftentimes vary drastically between Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach? Oftentimes it could be storming in downtown Wilmington and bright and sunny at Wrightsville Beach. Does Wrightsville Beach have its own weather pattern or do you see variation between Wilmington and the other beaches as well?

A. According to Jerry Jackson, lead meteorologist at WWAY News Channel 3, weather at the beaches does indeed differ from inland areas such as Wilmington. Jackson reported in an email to MyReporter.com that on a “normal” August day, climatologically speaking, high temperatures run about eighty-nine degrees around Wilmington. However, Jackson also said:

“At the beach, sunlight heats the water surface (which heats much less efficiently than land). As a result, air temperatures along the coastal waters often run about 5 to 10 degrees cooler than inland areas. This difference in heating leads to local differences in air pressure, which in turn generates an inland-moving flow of air known as the sea breeze. Thunderstorms often form along this boundary. However, since the boundary is usually pushing inland, thunderstorm development is often ‘steered’ toward inland locations.”

On a basic level, he said this serves as one “admittedly simplified” explanation for the rather drastic weather changes we see inland while the beaches remain dry.

RELATED LINKS:

Is the National Weather Service station in Wilmington hurricane proof?

Are there official rain measuring stations in the region other than ILM?

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