Some people do not believe me when I tell them about the first January that we spent along North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks. That winter I kept track of the number of hours that the temperature was below 32F. The total was around nineteen hours for the whole month. We also had at least ten days when we broke 70F.
That doesn’t happen every winter but we have only endured one “cold” winter in the seven winters that we have lived along the Crystal Coast. Our definition of cold would bring a chuckle from anyone living very far north. Cold to us is when a day doesn’t make it to 50F.
A brutal low temperature would in the low twenties. We haven’t seen very much cold weather this year. One of the geraniums that we planted out by our bulkhead behind the house and near the water is still alive. The geraniums on our front porch are still blooming.
So far this second week of January 2013, we have beaten the forecast every day. At 9:30 AM the morning of Friday, January 11, we reached 60F. At least for the first part of the week it was cool in the mornings and I wore a jacket which helped me imagine that it was winter. Today I abandoned my coat for a long-sleeved t-shirt. On my walk I met one of my neighbors pushing a jogging stroller. She was wearing shorts.
If we get into the seventies on Saturday. January 12, I suspect that I will also drag out my shorts. We never bury them very far here. When I worked in a real estate office, most of the men started wearing shorts by April 1.
It is likely that the weather will change and some cold air will find us before the winter ends. We could still see snow. We get a touch of it every three or four winters but fortunately it melts almost as fast as it falls.
The threat of some cold will not stop us from enjoying the warm weather while we have it. On Thursday I managed a nice boat ride down to Swansboro. While I didn’t do it in shorts, I only had on a light jacket. There is a wind chill factor when you are traveling down the river at thirty miles per hour so it was nice to have a jacket. However, I was not wearing gloves.
When you can ride down the river in an open skiff in January without gloves, it is a pretty good indication of how nice the weather is. Friday afternoon, January 11, we did have some rain. However, the rain was so warm that fog developed almost immediately at the surface of the water. In our marsh the water was already warmed to the mid-to-upper fifties before the rain. I suspect it will make it into the sixties before the warm spell is over.
With great weather like this even if we get a spell of “cold” weather, the winter will seem much shorter. Some of these nice warm days will make for great magic beach days. If we can get to the the middle of February, that warm North Carolina sun will start to work its magic. In the spring of 2012, March started so warm that we saw temperatures approaching 80F early in the month. It made the water very hard to resist for those of us who love boating and fishing.
In February we start to see some flowers blooming. About the third week of March I will be planting my tomato plants. Then the first week or two of April we can expect some strawberries to be ripe. Towards the end of April we will start mowing the grass again. Fortunately our grass grows very slowly in the spring which gives us more time for fishing.
Once we make it to May, summer is definitely on the horizon. Usually we get to spend most of April and May sleeping with the windows open. Sometimes the good weather coincides with the pine pollen season, but most years we have enough rain to wash the pollen out of the air regularly. I even managed some ripe tomatoes before the end of May in 2012.
It is nice to have a little chill in the air to remind us of all the cold weather that we are missing. However, there is nothing wrong with a string of 70F days in January. Warm days make it easier to stand on my dock and watch the otters and loons. This weather is a wonderful treat and I’m sure there are a lot of people who would enjoy thawing out here on the coast this warm January weekend.