All it takes is a little slightly cold weather and the warmth loving souls living along North Carolina’s coast start to believe that spring has forsaken us. The truth is that it is just weather. If you can be patient and wait just a little, the weather will change.
This spell of cool weather is not like a drought which can start in the spring and get worse as the year progresses. We will be shedding clothes here on the Southern Outer Banks long before the memory of these cool nights has had a chance to fade away.
This is nothing new. I offer up as evidence a few tidbits. This comes from a post, Spring is Getting Here, that I wrote on March 27, 2009.
Spring always takes its time arriving here at the coast. We get some of the trappings of spring. The Bradford pear trees bloom. Dandelions bloom. Our daffodils bloom so early that they almost seem like a winter flower. In truth spring is a slow event on the coast because the water warms up slowly.
Inland spring seem to happen quicker. The inland varieties of grass even turn green quicker than ours. In the end the slowly warming waters moderate the summer heat for us usually until July. Even then we get cool ocean breezes which usually protect us from the heat extremes.
That statement pretty well covers what happens in spring here in Carteret County. Our normally protracted spring is not a bad way to have spring. It is also not the only way that spring is experienced down here on the coast.
Last year I wrote a post called Spring on the Crystal Coast. In it I had this to say about spring.
The spring of 2012 is my sixth spring on the Crystal Coast. They have all proved to be different.
I enjoy spring unfolding along the coast. It is a lot more subtle than spring coming to the mountains.
While each spring has been different, there are things we can count on in our roller-coaster of spring weather.
Those things are “wind, blue skies, and moderate temperatures.” I would add that in most years we experience an abundance of sunshine. I will certainly take our coastal spring to what you might find in the mountains or the areas to the north of us.
We are on track with our weather. The Bradford pear trees are blooming and the daffodils are struggling to get all their blooms open. My tomato plants are in the ground and they went in only one day earlier than I planted them last year. There was a threat of frost this week but it was just a threat which is often the case here by the water.
Spring in the mountains or the North is not so nice. It is punctuated with snow and sometimes lots of it. All you have to do is look at this picture sent by our friend, Alberta, who lives between Hartland and Florenceville, New Brunswick. It was taken the morning of March 20, 2013 just after a snow storm delivered 20 inches of snow. It was enough to keep her husband, George, busy moving snow for a few hours. Or you could glance at this picture taken by Brenda, another New Brunswick friend, who lives a little over 70 miles away in Tay Creek, New Brunswick. Brenda told me that her husband, Kerry, only reported 16 inches of snow.
Actually you don’t have to go that far away to experience March snow. For over twenty years we lived in Roanoke, Virginia on the side of a mountain. It is just over 300 miles north and west of the Cape Carteret area. Spring snow is nothing unusual in the Virginia mountains. In fact those very same mountains and perhaps even parts of North Carolina might be in for a taste of snow this next to last weekend in March, 2013, as a big storm swings across the country. Roanoke has a winter storm warning with the possibility of one to three inches of snow.
Fortunately snow just slows down spring but never stops it. One of my favorite things about living in the South is that you can watch spring unfold more than once if you plan your travels carefully. We have often traveled from Roanoke, Virginia, to Cornelius, North Carolina, and then made our way back to the beach. You can leave Roanoke with spring breaking out all over the place, descend back into winter as you climb the mountains to Hillsville, Virginia, only to have a full blown spring unfold in front of you as you come down Fancy Gap into North Carolina’s Piedmont.
In 2012 we did one of those trips. By the time we got to Cornelius we found dogwoods in full bloom and our granddaughter wading in the water in Lake Norman. It almost felt like summer. When we got to the coast, things had cooled off and we got to enjoy another spring.
Every year is different. You can read about March, 2011, and March, 2012, and compare them yourself. I know only one thing for certain about the weather. It will not be long before we will be playing the heat pump game. Only weeks after that we will be hoping for any cool air that we can find. Then we will retreat to the water, and none of us have a problem with that.
I for one am not going to wish away the pleasant spring breezes so quickly. While spring has been cool this year compared to 2012, it is predicted to warm up once we get through the last week of March. Heat is welcome, but it eventually becomes an unwelcome guest sometime in August.
Still enjoying the differences in the seasons is one of the reasons we live on the North Carolina Coast and plan to stay here. I will choose August’s heat instead of snow and cold temperatures any day. Variable weather in the spring and heat in August is just part of living on the Crystal Coast.