When we moved to the North Carolina coast, we were not under the illusion that we would completely escape winter. We were looking for some of the benefits of four seasons including the beautiful sunsets that are one of the treats that come with a little cold weather.
Perhaps all the childhood memories of snow in North Carolina’s Piedmont prepared me for the taste of snow we sometimes get at the beach. Then again it could have been the years living in Nova Scotia where it was normal to see snow and beaches in the same scene.
I have forgotten which was the first winter that we saw some snow at the beach, but I do know we got a real coastal winter back in 2011.
We are in the depths of winter currently. We have endured a day when it hardly got above freezing and seen a night when it actually got down to 15F which is the coldest temperature that we have measured in our over eight years here.
Fortunately we have not gotten any frozen precipitation to go with the cold temperatures yet this year. However, the possibility of snow will remain with us for a while. We have seen snow at times in December, January and even once for a few hours in early March.
In spite of the threat of a little winter weather, winter is far from unrelenting here on the coast. Our first ten days in January, 2015, have given us four days with highs between 50F and 59F. We have enjoyed another three days with high temperatures between 60F and 68F. There were even a couple of days when our low temperatures did not get below 60F. That leaves us with one day when we only got to 30F and another two days when the temperature reached 43F and 44F.
Usually if we can get to the middle of February, the sun starts making a huge difference. Most folks living here consider February warmth to be a birthright. We have managed to protect a couple of lettuce patches which we hope to enjoy in late January and early February. Our tomato plants make it into garden most years sometimes as early as the middle of March.
The winter weather also brings lots of visitors to the marsh. Just today in my walks, I have seen our inlet’s kingfisher, a great blue heron, a great egret, a pelican, some blue birds, and the usual assortment of chickadees and other small birds. Earlier in the week I saw a river otter and another day we had a falcon perch outside our window. The otters can be very entertaining as they work the inlet for their seafood meals.
I will bundle up a little for a few more weeks and hope this year will be no worse weatherwise than 2014. Even so I know that I will likely be back in my coastal uniform of shorts and t-shirt in a couple months if we are lucky. Certainly in less than three months I will be wandering the beaches and testing the water for wading. Even now I am keeping a sharp watch for a warm couple of days when I can head over for a January beach hike. Much like my January boat rides, the beach hike in the heart of winter is a tradition that I would like to keep going.
If you want to find out more about this special area, we send out an almost monthly newsletter. Our most recent newsletter was sent out just after New Year’s Day. This is the link to it. Our Thanksgiving newsletter is available here on the web.
We hope to get our next newsletter out around Valentine’s Day.
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