Baby, It’s Cold On The Severn!

It may not be winter yet, but boy does it get cold and wet in a hurry when the October winds are blowing 18 knots out on Round Bay!

Our intrepid water quality monitoring crew braved the winds on Wednesday mornings last month, like when it was like 47 degrees to start their tours.

Sure, the camera catches a sunny day, but when you’re in an open boat heading into the wind and whitecaps out on Round Bay, your fingers get stiff and numb real quick.

As crewman and YSI operator, Ted, observed: “It’s a tiny boat. It can only handle six-inch waves!”

For two weeks in a row, we were forced to cut short our monitoring tours and were able to only collect data from 3 of 8 monitoring stations.

The days started off in the sheltered area behind St. Helena’s Island. It was nice back there. The breeze barely registered a 1 on the Beaufort Wind Scale that our science leader, USNA’s Dr. Andrew Muller, asks us to record at every station.

Any Day On The Water Is Better Than Good Day In The Office

Does this look like a lazy day on the water? Sure, any day on the water is better than a day in the office, but not in an open boat getting drenched in cold sea spray. 

But when we ventured into Round Bay itself, that’s when the days turned cold. The wind picked up, white caps splashed over the bow, sea spray all round.

Yeah, we were cold. And, the captain decided that was enough. We headed home.

Again, the next week, a clear bright day, but with 15- to 20-knot gusts from the NW and the long fetch across from Sullivan’s Cove to Long Point, there was no safe way to continue.

We had to head home early again. Rats.  Nevertheless, we’ll keep trying.

However, until SRA gets a bigger boat that can handle more than six-inch waves, it’s going to be dicey out there.

But there is some good news.

With the river rapidly cooling off, the colder water kills off the algae and the clarity improves.  At the Palisades Station  on Oct. 17, clarity was 1.05 m. At Round Bay West off St. Helena’s, 1.06m. Back in September these readings were 0.74m and 0.86m respectively.

What’s all this mean for water quality in the Severn River? All will be revealed Nov. 20 when Dr. Muller presents his annual State Of The Severn River report during our monthly Educational Series Meeting at Union Jack’s Pub.

Dr. Muller, associate professor of oceanography at the U.S. Naval Academy, will explain how he uses all the data we collect — temperature, salinity, pH, oxygen levels, weather conditions and water color — and how this all affects water quality in the Severn