Winter’s Back Is Broken

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Icy Raymond's Gut, February 25, 2015

Icy Raymond’s Gut, February 25, 2015

I am going out on a limb to suggest that the persistent cold weather that has camped in the eastern half of the country is finished at least along the southern coast of North Carolina.

Actually I am basing my prediction on what happened on February 27, with our high temperature here near the White Oak River not far upriver from Swansboro, North Carolina.

For the first time in a long time our high temperature ended up being higher than what was in the forecast. Our forecast was actually changed upwards at least a couple of times. I did not capture the image the first time I saw the forecast, but I did get the next time and the time after that. I also grabbed the image when the temperature got above the forecast.

This did not surprise me since I have been expecting better weather in spite of the ice in the picture above that I took on Wednesday, February 25.  Winter is done even with this February 27, 2015, snow coverage map which shows all of North Carolina covered with snow except our tiny piece of land from the Southern Outer Banks down to the South Carolina border. March can start with a fair amount of cold, but it is unusual in coastal North Carolina.

Both my wife’s family and my family have their roots in the western foothills of North Carolina near the Virginia border. One of the things I remember about February is that my father-in-law always planted his potatoes and onions around the third week in February. Like my mother, he was a renowned gardener and could be counted on for great crops.

In general March is a great month in North Carolina and I have even suggested that my Canadian friends pack their bags and head our way. While our ride to spring here on the coast can be something of a roller coaster, the journey is pleasant enough and the destination is well worth the ride.

March is usually when we start getting out on the water and our beach walks become more regular as March goes along. We can even end up with some water that you can wade in by the end of March.

Spring is pretty special on the coast but most of us are dreaming of salt water as March arrives. March is a teaser month with enticing waters and almost irresistible beaches.

While March might not be warm enough to get in the water, being on it and along side it is a pretty good start. It is also a good time to do our yard and gardening work while dreaming about fishing when the water warms up a little.

If I am right about the weather, everyone should be pleased as I announce the end of this cold winter. My first priority is getting my peas in the ground and tuning up my fishing tackle.  Hopefully the onions and radishes that I already have in the ground will not have to be replanted.

There are also some more pleasant trips out on the river to contemplate.  While I never stop boating here on the coast, it is a whole lot more comfortable on the water in March especially in a kayak than it is in February.  A ride in the skiff in March can be very nice.

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 Valentine’s Day.   Our first newsletter of  2015 can be found at this link.  Our last newsletter of 2014 is still available on the web.

We will be getting another newsletter out around the end of March after the first of the season’s festivals.

If you are interested in visiting the area, check out our free online travel guide to Emerald Isle.

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Coastal Roller Coaster to Spring

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Bogue Sound, February 11, 2015

Bogue Sound, February 11, 2015

Over the decades I have seen few springs arrive without a little weather drama. I was once surprised by snow when I was trying to mow our yard in April in Roanoke, Virginia.

Another time we endured breathtaking lows on the way to the hospital when it dropped to minus twenty Fahrenheit when our son was born in the middle of March in Canada.

Here on the Carolina coast it is not too much of surprise to get some very warm days well before the official start of spring. March of 2012 had enough heat to get me thinking about wading in salt water. At the other end of the spectrum we have gotten a touch of snow in the first few days March. With that kind of record even we coastal residents stay on snowflake patrol until mid-March. This year February has been a real roller coaster.

We always thought that the cruelest month of the year in Maritime Canada was April. You would get warm sunshine one day and the next day you could wake up to a few inches of snow on the ground. It was not unusual to have snow hanging around in the woods in early May.

Just over 1,200 miles south of Fredericton, New Brunswick, on North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks the weather is understandably a little different. I bounce back and forth on our most challenging month, but most years here on the White Oak River it is February. February’s cool weather can linger into March. It can be a very cold month sometimes bringing us ice which is much more common in January. Yet even with that history, we can often easily slip into spring before February is over.

Last Sunday, February 9, 2015, we managed to sneak over 60F. I took my skiff out on the river on Saturday the day before our sixty degree Sunday. The air temperature was nice but the water temperature was sobering at 44.5F. The river water did not even look inviting and I love being out on the river. This coming Sunday, February 16, 2015, our predicted high temperature is only 31F. That night we will drop down to 18F. Two days later the forecast is for a couple of days in the sixties. I will not be out on the water for any length of time until we have put together a week of those warm days with no nights below fifty.

I have often joked that spring unfolds quickly in the mountains compared to the coast where it takes longer for things to warm up. We get signs of spring at the coast much earlier in the season than our friends in the mountains. However, once the spring starts in the mountains and Piedmont, it almost explodes while we can wait weeks for our coastal spring to reach its peak.

We have a small crocus patch that has been blooming for a month and this week our first daffodil decided to bloom but that does not mean that spring is here yet. The daffodil managed to survive twenty four hours of strong winds. Since it appears determined to survive I will help it through the spell of cold weather scheduled for this weekend.

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching and I already have seeds in the ground and tomato plants growing in my office. This first week or so of February 2015, has not been one of those which seduces you into thinking about being on the water. I did get a hike in over at the Point on January 19 and the pictures will keep me going for a while, but it is true warmth that will signal the coming of spring and we just have not had any of that yet.

However, I remain on alert for some serious heat and at least in my dreams, I am expecting it any day now.

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.

If you are interested in visiting the area, check out our free online travel guide to Emerald Isle.

Sign-Up for monthly Crystal Coast Life Email Newsletter