It was a snow day today on the Outer Banks.
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.