Baby, that water is cold!!
During the summer months, Outer Banks beach visitors may experience a significant change in water temperatures from one day to next.
This phenomenon is known as upwelling. It is typically caused by circular wind motion due to a front from the south west that blows winds along the beach. The steady wind blows the warm summer water out at a diagonal direction which ultimately takes it out to sea. With the warm water now gone, the cold water from the bottom replaces it quickly – thus the sudden decrease in water temperatures from one place on the beach to another. Tides can also aid in replacing the warm water with the cold water. (Double click on picture for water movement).
On the Outer Banks, bathers may feel cold water for hours or days or sometimes longer. And this cold water exchange may be different from one beach area to others along the coast.
If you find yourself in an upwelling situation, either wait it out or move down the beach until you find a warmer spot. Unfortunately, if the wind continues to blow, cold water is here to stay. You may either suffer with the cold water, stay on the beach or find a nice pool.
By the way, fishing is outstanding in areas with upwelling – so grab a rod.
Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony