Smoke in the air

Bluewater Cove, Smoke on the Horizon

Bluewater Cove, Smoke on the Horizon

The Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina are not normally a place where you worry about a lack of precipitation.

Yet here we are approaching July 1, 2011, and we have just had another very dry late spring.

Spring of 2010 was actually even drier than this year.  This year at least we had plenty of rain through April and a little in early May 2011.   Last year it was June 26, 201o before we got 3/8s of inch of rain in  a very dry spring.  Not long after that the flood gates opened, and we got three inches of rain.  We were soaked for much of the rest of the year.

Spring of 2011 has been different, but still very dry.  However, after our taste of rain in early May 2011, we did manage to get 1.2 inches of rain the week ending June 25.  It seems to have revived much of the plant life in the area though I suspect the field corn crop will not produce much.

Also the recent rains while very welcome have done little to help with the two large wildfires that are plaguing the area.  One fire has been burning in the Alligator River National Wildlife Reserve since early May.  The fire, called the Pains Bay fire, has consumed seventy square miles of marshy woodland.

We got a good dose of the smoke from the Pains Bay fire on a recent day trip to Nags Head.  The department of highways was doing maintenance work on the Alligator River Bridge so we got to sit there a few minutes in our car.    The smoke was impressive, but even more surprising were the mosquitoes that tried to swarm in our car when I rolled down the window to take a picture.

Fortunately for us along the Southern Outer Banks, the fire burning in the Alligator River National Wildlife Reserve has had little impact upon us.  It has sporadically covered the Northern Outer Banks with smoke.  The smoke has visited Virginia Beach and been reported as far north up the coast as Delaware, but we have hardly seen or smelled it.

The new fire or the Juniper Road fire as it is called is an entirely different story. It is in Pender County and much closer to us.  The has had a major impact on the air quality in the area.  It was so bad Wednesday, June 22, that I decide to escape to Third Street Beach in Emerald Isle.  Currently we are under a “Purple” air quality alert through 3 PM on Sunday, June 26.

Drought and fire make you feel very helpless.  Fortunately we have a lot of water between us and the fires.  However, I know everyone would like to see some sustained rain which might put a damper on these fires.   The forestry folks are saying it will take six inches of rain in a short period of time to put the fires out.

Living on the coast, we know that the only way to get that kind of rain is through a hurricane or a tropical depression.  I think that I will hope for a tropical depression.  Based on what I saw last year, we can get plenty of rain out of one of those.

We actually had a storm dump 20.25 inches of rain on us in less than eight hours.  We would all be happy if the fires got put out, but we don’t need that much rain again at one time.  The rain pretty well destroyed the fall fishing season, and flooded a lot of places.

Still it would be nice if our view of the White Oak doesn’t get as smoky again as it was this past Wednesday, June 22.  I can take some smoke on the horizon, but I need to be able to see the water.