There are many changes that we see as the seasons slide from one to another here on the coast in eastern North Carolina. The most noticeable going from fall to winter for residents near the the south facing beaches of Bogue Banks is that things get busier on the mainland and quieter over in Emerald Isle and the other beach towns.
While a trip to the grocery store in Emerald Isle the week of July 4, can try the patience of any resident, we often choose to buy our groceries in Emerald Isle during the winter because the grocery store there is about as peaceful as a modern supermarket can get.
The waters of the Intracoastal Waterway shown above also lose their summer traffic and get pretty quiet during the winter with only the odd boat headed south for the winter. You might find a handful of boats plying the marshes and inlets of the mainland in search of trout but not very many fishing in Bogue Inlet.
Even the weather takes part in the reversal. During most of the summer the beach is often cooler than the mainland. In the winter the beach is usually warmer than the mainland. That changes in the spring as the ocean water is slower to warm than the shallow marshes and rivers.
Each year as winter comes, we know that the egrets and herons that often spend much of the summer in the Bogue Sound marshes will seek refuge during the winter in our calmer inlets surrounded by trees which shelter them from the wind.
Area beaches become mostly deserted once the fisherman are gone for the winter season. There are usually a few hardy souls walking the edge of the surf but the number of people on the beach is nothing like it is even in November when the water is still warm. A lot walkers switch to the more sheltered trails at the Croatan National forest access on the mainland in Cedar Point.
In spite of the cooler weather, this is a nice time of year for residents. There is no traffic, no crowds, and there is plenty of room to wander without bumping into anyone. Even the area grocery store parking lots are safer. Most people would guess the absence of people is normal because winter weather is bound to be cold even on the coast.
While our coastal weather can be a riddle and deliver a few chilly nights, cold weather is actually not the rule here on the coast even in winter. Winter can still give us some warm days that lure us over to the beaches. It is not unusual even in January.
With some warm weather and not very many people, the Southern Outer Banks is a good place to escape holiday madness. Christmas of 2013 might be the perfect time considering the forecast which has the beach in the mid sixties and the mainland enjoying the mid seventies the last weekend before the holiday week. That is a much better forecast than the weather we got for Thanksgiving.
It does get very peaceful as the year draws to a close along the beautiful waters that surround our area. While people here do get into the holiday spirit, we are surrounded by so much wildness and natural beauty that it is hard to excited about a trip to the mall. Skipping the mall is made even easier because we actually have only a limited number of mall stores.
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