Forecast predicts drastic water temperature drop

The predicted temperature drop shown as spatial sea surface temperature plots (top), and line graph (bottom) showing the expected average sea surface temperature off Raglan and New Plymouth.

The predicted temperature drop shown as spatial sea surface temperature plots (top), and line graph (bottom) showing the expected average sea surface temperature off Raglan and New Plymouth.

A rapid drop in sea surface temperature is forecast to result from the upcoming storm this weekend, says MetOcean Solutions Forecast Operations Manager Dr. Rafael Soutelino.

The 2 degree drop in surface water temperature is predicted to occur along the North Island west coast as a result of strong winds causing localised upwelling of deeper waters, as well as cooling of the shallow, nearshore waters by the chill southerly winds. 

"The waters are warmer than normal for this time of year," says Dr. Soutelino "and the predicted temperature drop will bring the sea surface temperature down to more normal levels for late May."

"It is uncommon to see such a steep decline in temperature, though," he adds. "Normally we see a gentle cooling throughout the autumn months."

The predicted drop is the output of the Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS) run by MetOcean Solutions as part of their ocean weather forecasting services. 

"Many factors can change between now and the weekend," states Dr. Soutelino "and as such a drastic drop in temperature only occurs when multiple factors come together, the outlook may still change."