But then reality got in the way and Hurricane Hermine formed in the Gulf of Mexico and all signs point to it running parallel to the coast before it reaches the Outer Banks as Tropical Storm.
All the guidance tracks are in remarkable agreement that the center of the storm will stay over land until it exits somewhere over the northern Outer Banks. Actually, peering closely at the storm track it looks almost as though it will exit right about Kitty Hawk.
Here’s the lowdown on tropical storms—it will be 14-16 hours of wretched weather. This one in particular looks as though it’s going to be a real rain maker, with the latest forecast predicting 7”-8” of rain from Friday into Saturday.
Here’s the other part to the other part to that—the forecasts have been a little bit inconsistent over the past two days, although the agreement on the path of Hermine has become very consistent.
One track, the NGFDL, is to the west or inland compared to all the others. From the standpoint of tropical systems and how they behave, that’s the one we’ll hope is the most accurate—although truth in reporting compels us to note that is the only forecast track that is outside the envelope. However, if Hermine does follow that track, there would probably be more weakening of the storm since it would be farther away from the Atlantic Ocean where it draws its energy.
It would also have less impact on the Outer Banks…but that doesn’t really seem like what’s going to happen.
Somehow the legendary surf of the Outer Banks just doesn’t seem to be happening this summer. Actually this summer isn’t a lot different than any other summer . . . Outer Banks, summertime, big waves . . . just isn’t going to happen.
Dr. Jeff Hanson has been studying waves just about his entire adult life, currently does the surf forecasting for OBXSURFINFO.com, but before that he was part of the Field Research Facility (FRF) at Duck—the Duck Pier. The Duck Pier, surprising as it may be, is considered the preeminent wave research facility worldwide.
He recently wrote an excellent blog for OBXSURFINFO.com explaining what’s happening, and for surfers hoping for some big wave action, take five or ten minutes to read the blog and lower your expectations.
Basically, what’s happening is the great weather we’re experiencing is at least partially a result of the Bermuda High, a somewhat stationary high pressure area that rotates clockwise creating classic trade wind patterns.
Those trade winds consistently create small waves—knee to waist high—at eight to ten second intervals, good to learn on or maybe a fun ride but not as exciting as the fall waves we experience.
The blog goes into a lot more detail, and surfers especially will probably find what Dr. Hanson has to say interesting. Particularly interesting is a chart of 35 years of wave action recorded by the FRF.
Here’s something to keep in mind about being safe on Outer Banks beaches. Every once in a while, red flag—“No Swimming”—flags go up. Those warning flags are flying for a reason so do not jump into the surf just to see what it’s like.
However, no swimming doesn’t mean no beach time.
The surf has calmed down quite a bit from yesterday, although it’s still pretty ragged looking with 4-5’ waves and lots of cross currents. Not a good day for surfing (tomorrow should be better) and definitely not a day to jump in the surf and go for a swim.
Yesterday was a classic red flag day. Strong wind from the northeast, seas running 6-7’ with cross currents, riptides and no clear pattern to how the waves were breaking.
Although there was no swimming, it was not a bad beach day—and that’s important to note. For families with little children, sandcastles can still be created; the high tide mark after a vigorous surf is filled with unique shells and occasional sea glass; and, of course, there’s still just kicking back and relaxing.
The clouds burned off by 9:00 a.m. yesterday, and that northeast wind kept temperature moderate. In short, not a bad day to be on the beach.
Today was a reminder of all that is best about the Outer Banks in the summer—bright sunshine, a pleasant breeze keeping the temperature moderate and the humidity down, ocean waves manageable. Or, stated more simply, it was a perfect beach day.
Everyone has their own idea of what to add to that perfect beach day and the full list is probably infinite and subject to debate; however, since here at Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates we live on the Outer Banks and love the beach ourselves we thought we would put our two cents of advice into the mix.
There are a couple of things that are important. Sunscreen is a must; a good roasting on a Monday means the rest of the week is spent healing.
Take water or sport drinks—water preferably. Sugary soft drinks are not absorbed into your body all that well and a lot of them have caffeine, which is a diuretic—meaning they make you sweat and pee. A cold beer sounds wonderful on a hot day, but definitely save the alcohol until you’re off the beach. Alcohol is more of a diuretic than caffeine popping a cold one after a day at the beach is a better way to go.
Those are the two most important things to take to the beach. It never hurts, of course, to have a good book, maybe a beach chair and sunglasses. A picnic lunch can be nice too, but remember, anything that goes to the beach with you, should come off the beach, including trash.
Since it first became an official holiday in 1914, Mother’s Day has really focused on two themes—mothers and family. The Outer Banks seems to represent the best part of both of those.
That was on full display today along the beach. Families of every sort were enjoying an absolutely beautiful spring day—the temperature was in the low 80s, the breeze from the south around 10-12 mph, the sun was bright without a cloud in front of it . . . even the Atlantic Ocean, it seems, cooperated and kept the temperature in the surf tolerable.
(That can be a rare occurrence—springtime water temperatures are typically in the 50s.)
It is wonderful to be on the beach and hear kids laughing—ok, squealing—in delight. Fathers, in an image that seems to be a picture from time immemorial, walk into the surf holding the had of a two or three-year-old.
it was interesting; looking north along the beach in Kitty Hawk to Pelican’s Perch—that’s the pink house that’s the last home still standing east of the Beach Road in that area—there were kids playing on the beach, dads with their children and a long row of mothers sitting in beach chairs and towels relaxing.
Away from the beach the snow falls in gentle white patterns, cushioning the sound of cars as they drive by, yet somehow carrying even farther than usual the shouts of joy of the kids in the neighborhood.
On the beach though it’s a different story—the wind blowing at 20mph from the north whips the snowflakes into stinging pellets of ice. The ocean is surprisingly calm, probably because this storm is a land based storm, crossing from the west and then heading up the coast.
The beach has a surreal look to it. The ocean, unnaturally calm today, has not encroached on the three or four inches of snow that has fallen. Against the darkening gray of the winter storm, the white of the snow stands in sharp contrast.
Visibility is reduced, much more than at other places along the Outer Banks. There is nothing to stop the wind from picking up the snow that blankets this strand of sand between the dunes and sea, and that combined with the snow that is falling creates a haze-like visibility that makes anything beyond 300 or 400 yards indistinct.
It’s too cold to stay here very long. The dampness of the wind off the ocean, the stinging nettles of ice or snow, the general feeling of cold pushes its way through multiple layers of clothing and in five minutes—perhaps 10 at the most—a steaming cup of hot chocolate begins to sound as wonderful as water in the desert.