There are reasons that we live along the North Carolina coast. One of them is that we get the opportunity to walk along the beach when people to the north of us are often shivering in the snow.
Not every winter do we have a series of warm January days which make the beach suitable for walking. Sometimes the ocean water gets so cold that the wind coming off the water can put real meaning into the words “wind chill.”
No such problems have bothered us during the winter of 2012. The ocean water is much warmer than it was last year when we had a serious winter that turned out snowy and eventually was recognized as the most severe winter here on the coast in the last 100 years.
This year winter has been more like our first three years at the beach, 2006-2009, when cold weather never really found us for any length of time. During January 2007, I kept track of our temperatures. We only had nineteen hours when the temperature was below freezing.
January 2012 hasn’t been quite that warm. As of January 29, my records show that our area three miles north of Swansboro and just off the White Oak River has seen a total of thirty-two hours below freezing. That compares to ninety-six hours below freezing in the Roanoke, Virginia area.
Just inland from the beaches we have enjoyed fifteen days during January 2012 when the temperature was 60F or better. There were another nine days when we saw at least 50F. I consider it a winter day when we don’t reach 50F, and when we don’t get to 40F, it is a very cold winter day. There have only been two days so far in January 2012 when we didn’t reach 40F so I am not going to complain.
Though it has been a very busy month for me, I have managed a couple of nice beach walks including one that lasted nearly four hours when I was testing my new beach camera. My skiff has also been out on the White Oak River a number of times. On January 25, I took the skiff down the river to Swansboro and rode around in the marshes. The next day I went kayaking in the afternoon on the river. The weather was almost perfect for all of my out-door adventures.
Both trips on the water were very enjoyable, but not nearly as much fun as my nearly four hours walking around the Point on January 24. When I left our home in Bluewater Cove, the temperature was well over 70F on our front porch. When I left my truck at the Station Street Parking lot and started walking to the beach, the temperature was still 64F. I managed to do my beach hike very comfortably just wearing a long sleeve tee-shirt and blue jeans. I actually saw a family wading around in the water. There were a number of tracks showing people enjoying the beach without shoes.
It really was a magic time to be over on the beach. There was a light breeze and warm sunshine. Along with all the changes in the sand over at the Point, there was a strong east flowing current running back from the Point down the beach towards the town.
If you have never experienced the panorama of sand, sea, and sky that is the Point at Emerald Isle, you might want to watch the video that I took of the Point on January 25. If your browser supports it, and if you have a fast Internet connection, watch it in 720P HD video. This is the link for the YouTube movie.
I love the beach anytime of the year, even when it is cold. However, when you get a magic day in January where you can enjoy the beach without even a coat, it really is a special day that helps shorten our “winter.”
As February rolls into town, we will probably have some cold weather, but by the end of February, the North Carolina sun is starting to work its magic. As of the end of January, we already have some lettuce and radish seeds that have sprouted in our winter garden patch.
I’m looking forward to local strawberries in late March this year and some wonderful, late February beach walks. It you want to see more pictures of my walk over on the Point, you can find them at this Picasa Web Album link.