Coastal Winter on the Down Slope

Submitted by OcracokeWaves on Mon, 02/27/2012 - 02:01.

While some areas of the country have to endure cold dreary days during winter, at least here on the Southern Outer Banks, we often have clear blue skies with our cool temperatures.  Sunshine makes a huge difference.

Even more important is that we can count on the sun really warming us as we near the end of February.  In general this has been a nice winter with few shots of really cold weather. Our daily temperatures don't have to rebound nearly as much to escape winter as they did last year.

With few exceptions, Alaska being one, winter has not been nearly the fierce beast in North American that it was last year when the media declared it the coldest winter in 100 years on the Carolina Coast.  It was a serious winter, and I am glad we did not get another one like it this year.

Still I don't mind a little winter. One of the reasons I love the Southeast is that you don't completely give up winter. You just get to avoid the worst cold and most of the icy parts of it.  However, six or seven hours of driving from the coast will often get you anything from a taste of snow to as much snow as you want to shovel.

I happened to be in Roanoke, Virginia on Sunday, February 19.  Roanoke, which made it to 63F on the day before, got a beautiful Sunday evening snow. By the time it was finished at dawn on Monday, the snow looked to be close to nine inches.

In the true tradition of Southern snow, it was mostly gone by the next morning. That is a testament to that powerful February sun which was also with me when I visited Third Street Beach recently.

It is just a tad early for my serious beach walks, but I did get to do a little walking and observe the nicely redone steps and platform there.  Emerald Isle does a good job taking care of our beach accesses.

It was cool so I just walked down to the water.  I like the air temperature to be consistently in the sixties with not a lot of wind before I start doing long hikes along the water.  I did my first long beach walk last year on March 17, and with a warmer than normal winter, I wouldn't be surprised to beat that date this year.

Beach walking is a big deal to me.  It gets me in tune with the natural world.  I get to see a much different community of life than the neighborhood marsh hikes that I often take just before sunset during the coldest months.

With beach walks on the horizon, it won't be long before I get serious about fishing.  I have managed to wet a line each month this winter, but I don't remember catching anything significant since early December unless you count the flounder that I bought at Clyde Phillips Seafood on Friday.

Catching no fish is not the fault of the fish.  I just haven't been very serious about my fishing since fall which turned out to be a very good trout season.

Some years we have tried our fishing luck in March with some success, but in general April if you can get on the water when the winds aren't blowing seems to be much better.

Still as I took the boat out to exercise the motor a little late last week, I could feel spring fever building inside me.  It is easy to get impatient.  Here on the Crystal Coast where the dedicated among us manage to fish twelve months out of the year, it is hard to not think about fishing as the weather warms.

However, I like my fishing and beach walking to coincide with the arrival of serious warm spring breezes so I can hold off for a while.   I did see a blooming tree in Swansboro late last week, so the early signs of spring are beginning to pop out all over.

Carolina spring is relentless once it starts. In less than a month, it will be time to plant tomato plants so we can taste that first home grown tomato the first week of June. 

With lettuce still around from my fall garden and some new lettuce already growing, I think those long beach walks will be here before I know it. 

Last year I had a nice beach walk the day after I planted my tomatoes.  Of course last year spring also almost got short circuited by a late frost.

But that was last year and this year the weather has been totally different,  I even managed to get a nice long beach walk in during one of our warm spells in January 2012 so I am not suffering very much from lack of beach time like I was last year when we actually had some snow down here.

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