The one place to go when the heat is here


Ocean Waves at Third Street Beach, July 11, 2011

While heat is often welcome in the month of June along North Carolina’s Southern Outer Banks, once our waters get close to eighty degrees,  we would like to avoid extreme heat like we have endured recently.

The reason for wanting our high temperatures to stay out of the nineties is our low temperature at night often is very close to the temperature of the area’s waters.   With high temperatures in the nineties, the area’s waters get hot early in the season, and we stay hot at night unless we can find a serious Canadian cold front.

Heat is a challenging thing.  We often have too much of it in the summer and not enough in the winter.  We are fortunate that really hot days usually only come a few at a time in July.  Our current hot spell will be over after a couple of days.

There is a good chance the nighttime temperatures later in the week will be cool enough to bring down the water temperatures to a more acceptable level.

This recent hot spell has been a serious one in spite of it lasting only two days.  July 12 our thermometer registered 94F, and July 13 we got to 97F.  Those are actually unusually high temperatures for the area.  However, with area water temperatures hovering in the mid-eighties, there is little to cool us down other than hope for a rescuing weather system from the north.

There is also little consolation in the knowledge that other areas have endured multiple days in a row of over 100F temperatures during this hot spell.  North Carolina’s summer humidity mixed with 97F temperatures is a challenging environment even when it lasts only two days.

We all handle heat in different ways.  My wife and I tend to eat smaller meals, less meat, and more nicely cooked southern vegetables during the heat.  I don’t completely avoid extreme heat, but I do limit my time out working when the temperature soars above 90F.  If I have work to do, I try to plan around the heat.  This most recent spell of heat was mentioned by weather forecasters late the previous week.

I took the warnings to heart and mowed my yard before the heat got here.  I managed to start mowing one morning when it was “only 84F”, and I finished just after noon when the temperature had climbed to 89F.  While I could have started earlier, strong breezes which were in the forecast did show up and take the edge off the heat. There is something of a sense of accomplishment in facing down the heat when mowing your yard.  It is probably a strange southern thing, but it is also a little like going into a sweat lodge and surviving the heat.

Still I came in from mowing and trimming with few dry threads on me.  It didn’t take me long to head to the shower, and I didn’t bother with any hot water.  Later in the week on the hottest day of this siege of hot weather, I saw a neighbor out washing her car in the 97F temperature in mid afternoon.  In spite of wearing a bikini, I bet she was still hot.  On miserably hot days I save my car washing for late in the evening just before dusk.  By then there is usually a sea breeze, and the temperature always drops into the eighties by dusk. Fortunately we are not in Mississippi where I have recently seen temperatures over 90F at 9PM.

So where is the one place I go when the heat won’t go away?  Of course it is the beach, but I never go until the heat of the day is waning.  Planning to arrive on the beach at 7 PM or later usually works well for me.  There is no danger of the water being cold, but there is a real likelihood that the sand won’t be hot enough to burn my feat.

Of course going early in the morning works well also, but I usually have outside chores to do then, so my beach time usually maps the best to the evening.

With temperatures this hot, a bathing suit might not be a bad idea for my next trip.