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Near the Point, Emerald Isle, NC

Near the Point, Emerald Isle, NC

Like most coastal people and everyone on the east coast north of Florida, I am ready for winter to end.  I would much rather be walking on the sands of the Point than sitting inside writing about the nasty weather.  My college friend, Scott, who lives in Chicago seems to be happy with the prospect of February closing out with temperatures in the forties with the chance of maybe fifty Fahrenheit on one day.

I can tell you that is not only an unacceptable end to winter, that is actually what we have been enduring and are trying to escape. While it might be unbecoming to complain about temperatures in the forties when our Canadian friends have just endured yet another snowstorm, it is certainly not the winter weather that we have become accustomed to in our several winters here on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast.

This winter I have not even dared to dream of any magic days on the beach much less letting my mind wander to summer days on the water.

We have had a winter on the marsh unlike any that we have faced. In most of the winters that we have been here, we have been able to enjoy lettuce and some other cold weather crops during January. That has been impossible even as we slide into February this year. While we have a good week on tap the week after Valentine’s Day, one of the European forecast models has us dropping back to well below freezing on February 26 so this is going to a rocky road to spring.

I know that we are officially still in winter and I have written that spring weather can be highly variable here along the coast. The problem is that we have grown used to having long breaks between these spells of winter weather and there have really been no breaks here on the coast this year.  I thought as we were thawing out at the end of January there might be some hope.  Unfortunately we got a mix of sleet and ice coating everything including our palms in the days just before our Valentine’s Day thaw.  We were lucky that was all we got since places in South Carolina had far more serious ice, the North Carolina Piedmont had its biggest snowstorm in decades, and our friends in the Virginia Mountains got a historic snowstorm.

A quick burst of warm air late in the evening on Valentine’s Day took us into the fifties and quickly melted all the ice.  Once again I thought we might be headed into warmth, but it was short-lived.  If you look at our average temperatures for February, we should be seeing an average high during this time of year near 59F with our lows around 38F.  We are nowhere close to that in 2014.  There were only two days above 60F in early February and in the next eleven days after that only two days did the temperatures above 50F. That is at the very cold end of  winter weather for us and unlike our normal middle of February weather.  Next week’s sixties and potential seventy degree day will really be some welcome relief.

What normally happens in much of North Carolina is that by the middle of February, the sun starts to seriously warm the ground and people start planting early crops. The water around us takes longer to warm but this year widespread snow cover extending just about everywhere north and west of us is slowing the middle February warmth we have come to count on over the years. We usually warm slowly here along the coast once we get to March but we are having trouble getting into our comfort zone.  Normally once we get pass the cold of January and a brush with cold in February the weather can be very nice if we just give it time.  This year February has been a very cold month for us.

I guess the real problem is that we expect February to have cold weather but to give us enough warmth that we can easily make it to March when we really start to feel better about our prospects for leaving cold behind for another year. February on the North Carolina coast is not normally the cruelest month of the year like it is in much of Canada.

All you have to do is read this post called Spring is here that I wrote on February 28, 2011, to understand what I mean. Or you can look at this post written in early March 2012 which starts out with the statement, “It is hard to say anything but “What winter?” when someone asks about our winter this year.” Even worse is the post called January Warmth to Remember that I wrote in January 2013.

Right now there is no way that I could write an article that even hints that we might have enjoyed some warm weather this winter. We have seen a few warm days, but the streaks of warm weather that keep us coastal folks smiling have been almost non-existent. To compound matters our lovely blue skies have been hiding and sometimes smiling at us above icy waters.

We live close to the elements here so the weather is more than an idle interest to those us of who spend time on the water and lots of time outside. We have been lucky to have missed most of the really serious winter weather, but that is why we live here. Now it is time hopefully for the true warmth of early spring weather to start pushing cold weather to the north and bring us back our wonderful blue skies.  Unless that happens, I suspect my office will soon be overwhelmed by tomato plants that should have moved to the garage long ago. I will remain hopeful because this is North Carolina and eventually the heat will win and we will wish that we could have bottled some of this cold air.

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.

We recently sent out our first newsletter of the season.  If you sign up soon, I will be able to send out copies of the first newsletter to new subscribers before we send  the next edition about the upcoming season on the Crystal Coast.

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