Snow on the beach, Emerald Isle, NC

Snow on the beach, Emerald Isle, NC

On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, winter weather came for an unusual visit to the North Carolina coast.  Our home is located on Raymond’s Gut not far from the beaches of Emerald Isle where the above snowy beach picture was taken.

We have seen snow before both in January 2011 and in January 2009.  Both of those storms swooped in for a visit and disappeared so quickly that we hardly noticed them. I can remember snow from one of them being gone before I walked out the driveway to get the mail.

This was all before the year of the polar vortex. This wandering cold air pump has put the east coast of the United State and Canada into a serious deep freeze.  The light freezing rain and much heavier sleet from this most recent storm started on Tuesday before lunch.  It did not stop until very early Wednesday morning.

It would not have been bad if the precipitation had changed to snow, but it did not and it was mostly sleet in our area throughout the storm.  We ended up with three to four inches of sleet on the ground.  The view from our upper deck was clearly a frozen landscape dominated by ice.

The storm helped us join that large part of the eastern United States covered with snow and ice as of January 31, 2014.  As the snow and sleet was stopping, we were falling into a serious deep freeze.  We were below freezing from before 8AM on Tuesday until about 11AM on Thursday, a total of fifty-one hours below freezing.

While that might not seem like a lot to northern friends, I still remember our first winter here in 2006-2007 when we only had seventeen hours below freezing the whole winter.  This dose of very cold weather was unlike anything that we have experienced in our nearly eight years living on the Crystal Coast.

Most of us move here because snow rarely visits the area and because the average low temperature even in January is above freezing.   We are also addicted to the area’s beautiful blue skies.  If you look at this graph of average temperatures, you will notice our average high in January is over fifty degrees Fahrenheit.  This latest spell of cold weather gave us two days when our high temperature did not even reach our average low temperature.

Certainly it was unusual weather and even fooled the weathermen who were convinced that we would make it into the upper forties on Thursday.  We barely stayed above freezing on Thursday.  Fortunately for those of us living here, our very warm ground started melting the snow from underneath.  We kept hoping for the blue skies on Thursday but they did not show up.

By early morning on Friday, January 31, our driveway was barely frozen slush. Three hours later just before noon, a couple of trips in and out of the driveway helped start some serious melting.  By the time we came home from a nice burger lunch at Highway 55 Burgers and Shakes and grocery shopping in Emerald Plantation on the island, our driveway had been cleaned by the sun and our spectacular blue skies were back.

We are not completely back to normal, but if you look closely at the snowy beach picture by clicking on it so it will expand, you will see a surfer headed for the waves.  That is a very good sign for us beach lovers. With high temperatures well into the sixties on both Saturday and Sunday, we will quickly get completely thawed out.  Our hope is that the local trout are not shocked by all the cold water draining into the rivers and that our warmth loving plants and birds do not suffer much from this unusual cold snap.

Most of us will be rooting for this to be the last that we see of serious winter weather in 2014.  My kayak is calling me, but I need some warmer water than what we have now before I start paddling.

If you would like to see some pictures of the spectacular scenery in our area during warmer times, check out our just published $2.99 Kindle reader book, 100 Pictures, 1000 Words, A Crystal Coast Year.  It is worth clicking on the link just to see the free sample of seven pictures.  Kindle reader software works on just about every platform including iPads and iPhones.

It is also getting close to when we will be sending out our first newsletter of the season.  Get signed up now so you will not miss any of the posts about the upcoming season on the Crystal Coast.

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