Rain At The Beach

The rain that we get never pleases us. It is always either too much or two little. As I am compiling this on July 15, 2014, we are certainly not worried about a moisture deficit as you can tell from this map which shows that we have gotten 10 inches or more of rain in the last 30 days.

Here are some posts that sample how I have viewed our rain deficit or surplus as the pendulum has swung from dry to wet.

Even at the coast, some rain must fall

Written May 7, 2011

I absolutely love sunny, blue skies, but my life which included ten years of farming has taught me to appreciate timely rain.

If you run from your house to the car and then to the office, rain can just be a nuisance. However, if you have a crop in the ground, timely rain is a necessity.

This afternoon the rain interrupted my planned beach walk, so I took the opportunity to play a little Foursquare and become “Mayor” of Redfearn’s Nursery.

Rain rarely gets distributed evenly. Even with today’s showers, we could use some additional rain. Likely I will mow my yard Saturday, May 7, and then run our sprinklers the next day because we are somewhat dry.

I will be running sprinklers while people along the Mississippi are praying for dry days and folks in Texas would give anything to have the shower that passed through this evening.

Fortunately we have had enough rain for field crops to germinate, but my tomato plants have required regular watering. They are doing great. I have one tomato the size of a small hen’s egg.

The really good news is that Saturday is supposed to be sunny at least in the morning. After the fog burns off, I am counting on some blue skies. I am planning a beach walk to celebrate being back on the coast, and with luck, I might get my skiff out on the water.

There is always the chance that I might take a fishing pole with me.

Finally some rain on the Crystal Coast

Written June 21, 2011

When I wrote the previous post, “Even at the coast, some rain must fall,” on May 7, 2011, I had no idea that the rain I was describing would be the last significant rain we would see for almost six weeks.

That turned out to be the case. After the one quarter of inch of rain that we got on May 7, we did not see any measurable rain until early the morning of June 20 when we got at least six tenths of an inch of precipitation.

Fortunately we have been able to water our yards and gardens. Farmers in the area haven’t been that lucky. Unless we get additional rain in the next few days, I suspect the area’s field corn crop will be a complete loss. It may already be damaged beyond repair at this point.

Some of our local vegetables are from irrigated fields so we are lucky in that respect. However, there are a lot of area produce fields that are not irrigated so we need more rain if those fields are to bear fruit this year.

While it is nice to have sunny, blue skies, a summer without rain would be a disaster for lots of folks. Let’s hope the recent rain is a signal that the weather patterns are changing, and there might be a chance to catch up on our precipitation deficit before the growing season ends. The last I heard, our rainfall deficit year to date is over twelve inches.

Strange Stuff Falling Out of the Sky

Written August 14, 2011

I awoke on August 14 to something that I haven’t seen in a long time, a puddle at the end of the driveway. Not only did we have a puddle, we also had a trickle of water coming through our culvert.

Since May 7, our total rainfall here along the banks of the White Oak River has been somewhere around three inches. Three inches of rain over three plus months is not much in an area that averages over an inch per week during many summers.

This morning our rain gauge had six tenths of an inch in it. That is hard to comprehend. It has been a long time since a single storm delivered that much.

That much liquid which I think might be called rain has already caused me to do some things which I haven’t done in a while.

First I pulled the plug on boat to let the collected water drain out of it. Our previous brushes with precipitation have been so minor that they have hardly got the bilge pump warmed up.

I even had to take my bucket of emergency gear out of the boat and drain it.

Next I had to restrain myself from filling the bucket that I usually take around to water the flowers each morning.

Fortunately I had gambled some on August 13 and put the remnants of a bag of ironite on our centipede yard. Now I won’t have to water it into the yard.

This is going to be a new experience having a wet driveway and puddles to deal with here on White Heron Lane.

I suspect we were not the only ones surprised to find that rain is still possible in Carteret County.

It is amazing how different weather can be. I talked to some Canadian friends recently, and they haven’t had two sunny days together all summer. Farmers are having a hard time getting any hay cut.

One of my relatives in Yadkin County, near Winston-Salem tells me that this is one of the first summers that she can remember when their yard remained green in August.

We have been lucky to have plenty of water to irrigate our tomato plants this summer. The crop has been excellent in spite of or perhaps because of the dry weather. It is hard to say which is the case. However, on August 13, I picked another sixty tomatoes which elicited some groans from my wife who is tired of having tomatoes take over her counter.

I just hope we our weather doesn’t tilt in the other direction. We still need rain, but we certainly don’t want it every day like my Canadian friends are getting.

Welcome Rain

Written June 7, 2013

We are not as close to the land as we were in seventies and early eighties when we living on a farm in Atlantic Canada and growing almost all our own food.

However, we still drive by fields on our way to the grocery store but now they are corn and winter wheat instead of hay and oats. Our local corn is waist high this first week of June 2013. It is certainly looking much better than it did a week ago. The winter wheat is almost ready to harvest.

Most people think ocean and beaches when they hear our home up the White Oak River is less than ten minutes from the beaches of Emerald Isle.

However, we are here for more than just the beaches. We came to Western Carteret County because of the protected setting of the area’s beaches and the small town environment. Those farm fields are part of the attraction to us.

We signed a contract on our home seven years ago this June. While there are a few more people in the county, I am pleased to report we still do not have to worry about wall to wall high rise condos on the beach.

However, with 158,000 acres of forest on one side of us and plenty of farmland across the county including the fields that provide us with the wonderful produce we enjoy all summer, we do have to worry about precipitation in the summer.

We had a pretty serious drought for a couple of years. In the summer of 2011 some traditionally swampy areas caught fire. Smoke from the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge near Stumpy Point combined with smoke from fires in remote areas of Camp Lejeune to make July a not so nice one for our all of us here including the beach guests.

Even we a river between one and two miles wide on one side of you, smoke from a forest fire is troubling.

The summer of 2012 brought plenty of relief from the drought. Through most of the winter of 2012–13, we had so much moisture that walking on our yard felt like walking on a wet sponge.

Then in early May of 2013, the rain stopped. By the time we got to June 1, we had recorded only .33 inches of rain for the whole previous month. Things started to get very dry and many of us were worried that the local corn crop and our summer vegetables were in danger.

Fortunately we got .80 inches of rain on June 3 & 4. It was a welcome taste of moisture for the area’s crops and the vegetables we have planted around our home, but it certainly wasn’t enough to get us to July.

Then came the announcement that the first tropical storm of the season was going to ride up the east coast with a serious dose of moisture. We got nearly .5 inches on June 6 and got 1.4 inches more on June 7.

Drought, rain, fire, tornadoes, tropical storms, and hurricanes are part of life on earth and here in Carteret County. It is still a great place to live and one of the most beautiful on earth. We are also pretty close to some other neat spots like Nags Head which have an even more challenging relationship to the weather than we do.

Still have a lot of wonderful days here on the Southern Outer Banks and the whole North Carolina coast, but they cannot all be perfect.

Rain that won’t go away

Written September 3, 2012

With all the places that could use the rain, it is tough to watch all the precipitation go to waste here in Eastern North Carolina where we are having a hard time putting together a streak of dry days.

A little over twelve months ago, I wrote a post with the title “Strange Stuff Falling Out of the Sky.” The summer of 2011 brought us so little rain that we had a hard time remembering what it looked or sounded like.

In July of 2012, I wrote a post about weather never being normal. At the time we still had a home in Roanoke, Virginia. The mountain area of Southwest Virginia was once again in the midst of very dry times. It always amazes me how you can be dry one summer and wet the next.

Our coastal summer of 2012 had just the right mix of rain and sun until August when the rains came. Then there seemed to be no stopping the precipitation. I think my rain total at our dock was eleven inches for August

Wet or dry weather can happen anywhere. Along the Southern Outer Banks of North Carolina, we can see wet weather that defies description and then a streak of weather that begs to be bottled.

So far August and September of 2012 are proving to be wetter than most of us would like. Sometime around 3 AM on Labor Day of 2012 the thunder started rumbling. Sprinkles of rain came later and by late morning we picked up another quarter inch of rain that we didn’t need. I am glad that I rolled out of bed early and went outside to turn my kayak upside down.

Still the rain made thoughts of spending the first part of the day under blue skies disappear. I also had to give up the hope of heading over to the Point for another stunning hike early in the afternoon. However, you never can count out the blue skies here on the coast. We still have the evening, and it could be spectacular.

Every time we hit a stretch of wet weather like September of 2011 or the last couple of months, I am reminded of the old advice to make hay while the sun is shining.

It is one of the things that I try to take to heart. If the weather is good, I try to do something that I will remember even if it is just a walk in the neighborhood or a quick ride down the river in our skiff.

Even in a place like the Crystal Coast which is usually known for blue skies and emerald waters, you have to take advantage of the good weather. Last year I managed to get out for some hikes between Hurricane Irene and the other storms that threatened the area. It was well worth the effort.

I am not crazy enough to challenge rumbling thunder in a kayak or a boat out on the water, but I am always watching for an opportunity to enjoy the area when the weather clears.

Even if I just manage to sneak out on the water to catch the sunset as the skies clear or if I just get to enjoy some quiet waters during a morning walk before the summer thunderstorms roll into the area, it makes me feel alive and connected to the world around me.

Perhaps wanting to be part of the outside world dates me as an old timer. I would much rather to be connected to the world around me than tied to an iPod. I remain amazed when I see someone hiking along the beach with their ears plugged up with ear buds from an electronic device.

Read more at Life Along The Crystal Coast.