Assateague Island Monthly Weather - When Is The Best Time to Visit?
In this article we break down the monthly weather averages and conditions typically seen on Assateague Island and at Assateague Island National Seashore. The good and bad throughout the year and during each month, with more detailed monthly descriptions in the second half of the article. We hope this guide helps as you plan your upcoming trip to Assateague Island! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assateague Island is a 3 hour drive from Washington DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and everywhere in between. Many families make the drive from Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. The horses live and can be seen on Assateague Island year-round!
Current Weather and Forecast Links (Weather Channel):
Click here for more Weather information from the National Park Service
Hottest Month - July: 79 °F average temperature
Coldest Month - January: 38 °F average temperature
Windiest Month - April: 10mph average wind speed
Wettest Month - June: 3.85” average precipitation
By Season / Month - General Overview:
Spring: Cool with air temperatures ranging from the 40s to 60s
March: Start of spring, cool to cold air temperatures, cold ocean temperatures, windy days, very light crowds
April: Plenty of sunny days, temperatures start to warm, cold ocean temperatures, bugs emerge, crowds light
May: Lots of sunshine, flowers start to bloom, the island comes to life, bugs too, crowds increase, particularly end of month for Memorial Day
Summer: Sunny, hot, and humid with temperatures ranging from the 60s to the high 80s
June: High season starts, warm to hot temperatures, ocean temperatures warm enough to swim but still chilly, bugs kick into gear, crowds pick up
July: hottest air temperatures, plenty of sunshine, ocean temperatures warmest of year, bugs at their peak, heavy crowds, particularly on weekends and July 4th holiday
August: similar to July, hot temperatures, plenty of sunshine, ocean temperatures warmest of year, bugs at their peak, heavy crowds
Fall: Sunny to overcast with cool temperatures ranging from the 50s to 70s
September: Very pleasant, temperatures warm but cooling, early month ocean temperature still warm enough to swim, bugs present but lighter, crowds dwindle, particularly after Labor Day
October: Cool air temperatures, ocean temperatures cool to cold, partly cloudy to sunny days, bugs lighten, crowds very light
November: Cool to cold air temperatures, cold ocean temperatures, bugs start to disappear, overcast with sunny days, crowds very light
Winter: Cool to cold with temperatures ranging from the 20s to the 40s
December: Cold air and ocean temperatures, typically overcast with some sunny days, no bugs, no crowds
January: Very cold air and ocean temperatures, overcast with the occasional snow shower, no bugs, no crowds
February: Very cold air and ocean temperatures, overcast with the occasional snow shower, no bugs, no crowds
Ocean Temperatures - Swimming at Assateague Island:
The ocean temperatures at Assateague Island are similar to Ocean City, Maryland, with the best times of year to swim in just a bathing suit being the end of June to early September. The air temperatures are warm to hot during these months, with the ocean offering a refreshing cool off from the sun. As ocean temperatures take longer to rise and slower to fall than air temperatures, the average ocean temperature is actually higher in September and October than April and May. A warm to hot September, or even early October day, can still offer a great time to relax on the beach and swim in the ocean.
For context to the chart above, a cold plunge pool is typically 50°F-55°F, with an Olympic swimming pool ranging from 77°F - 82°F. The ocean temperatures at Assateague Island usually peak in the mid-70s, but taking into account the air temperature, the water is a great retreat from the sun on hot days.
The Wind on Assateague Island
While the average yearly wind is just under 9 mph, this doesn't tell the whole story. Assateague has been hit by hurricanes and large storms, which have peaked over 100mph. While the park would be closed and you wouldn't find yourself on the beach during these storms, the wind speed and direction constantly fluctuates, but from our experience it ranges from calm/zero to 15 mph on most days. The ocean breeze often adds a few mph as well, with the wind having a great impact on the bug levels on any given day during the summer. Checkout this post on how to better manage the bugs of Assateague and learn more about how wind speed affects their intensity at any given time.
For the wind speed and direction, we use the Weather Channel website and app and look at the detailed hourly forecast (see above for links).
Weather and What to Expect on Assateague Island by Month
January/February: The two coldest months on Assateague Island are January and February with temperatures ranging from 28°F - 49°F. The average precipitation is 2.74” with humidity of 65%. Nor’Easters, large and powerful winter storms, occasionally sweep through Assateague during this time of year packing high winds, rain, and sometimes snow. Once they pass through, however, there is often a period of sunshine and West winds, blowing from west to east towards the ocean. This can create great surf conditions as the storm travels into the Atlantic and pushes back powerful swells.
The Good: Crowds are very light, parking lots empty, bugs are gone, trees and shrubs have lost their leaves which helps with visibility to spot wildlife. Perfect time for hiking, exploring the OSV, and finding the hard to reach horse bands, as long as you bundle up and prepare for the cold air temperatures. Many birds (i.e. Snowy Owl) make their migratory travel to the island. Seals can often be spotted on the beach or swimming near the shore.
The Bad: Cold temperatures, potentially high winds, overcast skies. Fewer shops and hotels open in Ocean City or surrounding areas, so must prepare food and plan ahead for lodging depending on your length of stay.
Ocean Temperatures: January and February see the coldest ocean temperatures, with their averages being 45°F and 41°F, respectively. You won't find yourself swimming in the water without a proper wetsuit.
March/April: Assateague Island sees a dramatic shift in weather during the spring, with average temperatures in early March in the low 50s that reach nearly 70°F by the end of April. Average precipitation is 3.2” with humidity of 66%.
The Good: Rising air temperatures, little to no bugs, light crowds, and near empty parking lots. Migratory and nesting birds arrive, such as the famous Piping Plover. Pregnant mares (female horses) start to give birth to new foals. Flowers start to bloom, trees start to grow and the island sees an uptick in human activity.
The Bad: Towards the end of spring, bugs (mosquitos and flies) start to emerge, although not as high as summer. The ground thaws which can make hiking through the marshes muddy and potentially inaccessible.
Ocean Temperatures: March and April's ocean temperatures are cold, averaging 43°F and 50°F, respectively. A proper wetsuit, gloves, and booties are needed.
May/June: With the transition from spring to summer, Assateague Island's air and water temperatures continue to rise, as do the amount of people visiting the island. With Memorial day near the end of the month of May, vacationers from far, as well as those staying in Ocean City, make their way to Assateague. By June, the ocean temperatures are warm enough for most to enjoy a swim.
The Good: Air temperature is warm to hot with the water temperature being manageable to swim without a wetsuit. Days are abundantly sunny with lighter winds and less severe storms. While there can be days with rough seas, late spring into summer have the most days of calm seas that are perfect and safer for swimming.
The Bad: Bugs can be in full force (wind dependent), rising crowds, potentially long lines and full parking lots. Hurricane season officially kicks off on June 1st.
Ocean Temperatures: With May ocean temperatures in the high 50s to low 60s, this is still usually too cold for most to swim for an extended period. June, with an average ocean temperature in the high 60s, combined with the hot air temperatures, is much more pleasant but still a little chilly for some.
July/August: Summer season is in high gear on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and Assateague is no different as it sees its peak crowds, particularly during the July 4th holiday weekend. Bring lots of sunscreen, water, and bug spray, as well as covering from the sun.
The Good: Air temperature is hot (might be bad for some!) with the water temperature warm enough to swim and surf without a wetsuit. Days are abundantly sunny with lighter winds and less severe storms, although an occasional scattered thunderstorm. July and August see the least amount of days with large surf, meaning the ocean is calm and great to swim in.
The Bad: Bugs can be in full force (heavily wind dependent), peak crowds, potentially long lines and wait times, and full parking lots. Higher hurricane potential, although many remain out to sea.
Ocean Temperatures: The two warmest ocean temperature months at Assateague Island are July and August, which coincides with the largest crowds as well. Both months average a nice 75°F, which, while still cool to some, is a perfect escape from the air temperatures that are in the high 80s and 90s that occasionally reach over 100°F.
September: September is our favorite time to visit, for the combination of warm but not scorching hot air temperatures and still warm enough ocean temps. On cooler days, the water can even feel better than standing outside on the beach. Watch out for potential hurricanes and scattered thunderstorms. After early September, as most kids have gone back to school, the island sees a dramatic decrease in visitors. This returns a certain calmness and peace to the island.
The Good: Warm air and ocean temperatures, not too hot, not too cold, lighter crowds after Labor Day, abundant sunshine. If you're a surfer, the peak of the season for Assateague is September 12th.
The Bad: Not much, just a bug or two (or ten) to manage and prepare for. Can get chilly for some and the water temperature is starting to drop.
Ocean Temperatures: September's average ocean temperature is 73°F, which is higher than May and even June. There are more days with bigger surf than in the summer however, so ensure to be careful.
October: Similar to September, with slightly cooler air and water temperatures. The trees and shrubs are taking on their fall colors and starting to shed their leaves in anticipation of winter.
The Good: Cool air temperatures, mostly sunny skies unless a hurricane or tropical storm is threatening the coast. Great time to explore the island, or relax on the beach without the crowds.
The Bad: The water temperatures are too chilly to swim in for a length of time without a proper wetsuit.
Ocean Temperatures: October's average water temperature is 66°F, having dropped ~7°F from September. To swim or surf, a wetsuit will be required for most.
November/December: While many won't find themselves swimming in the ocean (unless you would like to try surfing with us), this can be a great time to visit and explore the rest of the island. You won't be jostling for position to see the horses in the developed area, and can often have ares of the island all to yourself.
The Good: Very light crowds, no bugs, enhanced visibility as trees and shrubs have started to or already lost their leaves. Perfect time for hiking, exploring the OSV and seeing wildlife, including birds arriving for the winter months. November sees the end of hurricane season.
The Bad: Cold air temperatures, potential for freezing and cold rain with occasional snow showers.
Ocean Temperatures: The water temperature at Assateague drops an average of 9°F from October to November, the largest decrease throughout the year. December averages 50°F, dropping into the 40s by the end of the month.
About Assateague Island Tours
Assateague Island Tours was created to share Assateague's beauty and provide a different experience for those visiting the barrier island. Our goal is to help you turn off your mind and truly enjoy your day while leaving the planning to us.
Throughout our years of traveling to Assateague Island and onto the OSV, we've seen countless people become refreshed and reenergized after visiting the island and experiencing all that it has to offer. It opens up a new perspective for those that visit, as many come from the city and are pleasantly surprised that a place like Assateague Island exists in Maryland. Being less than a three hour drive from three of the largest cities, Washington DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, and open year-round, the island offers an escape for those looking for a unique experience. Driving off road over sand is a special adventure many don't ever get to experience. Sharing a true Assateague experience immersed in nature and away from the crowds is our goal and what has driven us to create this experience.
Check us out! www.assateagueislandtours.com