Heading to the Beach? Be prepared for chilly waters!

NOAA Ocean Explorer: Quest Expedition 2002

By Ricky Matthews
VIPIR Weather Intern

If you’re heading to Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Corolla, Sandbridge or Virginia Beach be prepared for some chilly waters. Water temperatures in these areas are currently around 67° in northern VA Beach, but cooler south of the resort area. Water temperatures in NC are averaging in low to mid 60s. A monitoring station reported a water temperature of 64° this afternoon at the Duck pier. Average water temperatures this time of year are usually in the 70s.

So, why is the water at the beach so cold? The answer is upwelling.

NOAA Ocean Explorer: Quest Expedition 2002

Visual from NOAA

When winds blow across the ocean surface, they push water away. Water then rises up from beneath the surface to replace the water that was pushed away. This phenomenon is known as upwelling. Upwelling most commonly occurs in the open ocean and along coastlines. The water that rises to the surface to replace the water pushed away is often much colder and rich in nutrients. This nutrient rich water “fertilizes” surface waters, causing high biological productivity and good fishing!

For much more information on upwelling, check out NOAA’s Ocean Explorer website!

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