North Carolina News

Wrightsville Beach water temps could reach record levels again soon

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (WNCN) - The ocean water in Wrightsville Beach has cooled slightly since reaching a record high temperature of 89 in early July.

The water temperature is currently in the low 80s and there’s a chance temperatures could spike again. 

The hot, humid weather to start the month of July helped ocean temperatures climb to near 90, which provided fuel for Hurricane Chris to strengthen offshore.

“When the hurricane moves over these warm waters it will feed off of that,” said Steven Pfaff, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Wilmington. “If the storm were to come toward our coast it potentially could have had some decent fuel to work with, but fortunately it stayed offshore.”

Easterly winds also forced warm water closer to the North Carolina coast.

“We think that was the result of persistent days of onshore wind out of the east causing warmer temperatures out of the Gulf Stream to push near coastal areas,” said Pfaff. 

The vacationers and beachgoers visiting Wrightsville Beach didn’t seem to mind the warmer water.  

“It was warmer than we thought. We expected it to cold and it was really warm,” said Sylvana Gregg, who was visiting Wrightsville Beach from Pennsylvania.

While some people were a little shocked by the warmth, they still enjoyed some time in the water. 

“I feel like it’s been awesome. It feels not quite like bathwater but just perfect,” said Ivan Squire, whose family was visiting from Kentucky. 

Taking a dip in the ocean is the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer day but keep in mind there are some dangers lurking as Chris continues to linger offshore. 

“With Chris meandering off the coast, unfortunately we’ve had to deal with the swells from the storm. The surfers love that but as far as the typical beachgoers, the swimmer, the lifeguards, it’s just an added threat,” said Steven Pfaff. 

It’s also important to remember that rip currents are always a risk, even when there’s no tropical system nearby.

“It’s usually equated to the amount of incoming wave energy. The more waves, the bigger the waves, the stronger the rips that will counter that,” said Pfaff. 

Chris is now a hurricane and is starting to move northeast, away from the North Carolina coast so the rip current threat will likely die down in Wrightsville Beach over the next few days. Ocean water temperatures are currently at about 83 degrees which is closer to normal for July.

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