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Wet & Windy: Understanding Delmarvas Unique Weather - January 10, 2014

If you have ever seen a weather map of Maryland, you might have noticed a division between the weather on the western shore and the Eastern Shore. It might be snowing in Baltimore, but in Salisbury and Ocean City it only rains. This change in weather from the mainland to the Delmarva Peninsula is in part due to the distance between the western and eastern shores, but also because of multiple unique environmental conditions.

Surrounded on three sides by water — the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries on the other — the Delmarva Peninsula has many environmental aspects that create unique local weather.

Large bodies of water, such as the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean, have a direct effect on temperatures and the local weather in coastal areas. Proximity to large bodies of water creates a kind of buffer, which leads to less dramatic temperature fluctuations.

Winds also tend to be stronger and more prevalent here on Delmarva as opposed to the mainland. This is because when wind travels over land, there is more air resistance than over large bodies of water. Forests, buildings, hills and mountains create air resistance, which slows down or blocks wind on land as opposed to bodies of water, which create little to no air resistance until the wind meets the shore.

The direction of oceanic currents also greatly affects the climate of coastal towns and areas. The Gulf Stream brings warmer water from the Caribbean upward along the United States Atlantic coast, eventually ending across the Atlantic near England. The Gulf Stream brings slightly warmer water to the Atlantic coastal states, which can lead to more precipitation, but is also a possible pathway of hurricanes and tropical storms.  

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