Goodbye Hermine

Outer Banks Fishing Pier, Sunday, Spetember 4, 11:30 a.m. Surf running at 8-10'.
Outer Banks Fishing Pier, Sunday, Spetember 4, 11:30 a.m. Surf running at 8-10′.

It looks as though we have another day of high surf battering the Outer Banks as Tropical Storm Hermine spins away out in the Atlantic. All sign point to her meandering a bit and then moving out to sea, but it does look as though tomorrow, Monday, is not going to be a good beach day.

There’s certainly some picking up we have to do now that Hermine has left. She was a tropical system of a different nature; the wind and rain Friday night into Saturday early morning was downright noisy . . . ok loud—very loud.

But Saturday by 9:00 or 10 a.m. it really seemed as the worst of Hermine was gone. The wind had died down to tolerable levels—20 or 25 mph and it had stopped raining. Then the trailing end hit and we had some of the strongest gusts of the whole episode; 60 and even a report (unofficial) of 70 mph. Pretty crazy, and not like most tropical systems that are here and then gone.

The Beach Road north of in Kitty Hawk took a beating again, but it doesn’t look nearly as bad as it did last year. The sand dunes are gone, but it appears as though the road is intact.

The Outer Banks didn’t shut down for this one at all—no reason to really. A day and a half of being a little miserable, but things are already back to normal. Fall is a great time to visit. Give us a call at Joe Lamb. Jr.—the rates are reasonable and the weather is great…and there doesn’t look as though there is anything in the Atlantic that’s going to change that any time soon.


A Different Side to the Outer Banks

Trail in Kitty Hawk Woods.
Trail in Kitty Hawk Woods.

Back in 1584, Arthur Barlowe, who was part explorer and part public relations agent for Sir Walter Raleigh looked out over the Outer Banks and wrote when he returned to England, “Under the banke or hill whereon we stoode, we behelde the vallyes replenished with goodly Cedar trees . . .”

It’s a little difficult to know exactly where he was standing but it’s just about a sure bet that the “banke or hill” he stood upon was a large sand dune and he was looking west at a maritime forest.

Maritime forest occur on the leeward side of sand dunes. Protected from the most damaging of the ocean’s winds, remarkable diverse forest take root. Along the swamps and marsh at the lowest levels, cedar trees do grow. But there are also hardwood trees  growing on the ridges. The ridges are actually relict sand dunes that have accumulated soil over the past 6000-7000 years.

At one time, a continuous maritime forest stretched from Southern Shores to Jockey’s Ridge, but development and the shifting environment that is a normal part of the evolution of a barrier island has reduced what was once a massive woodlands.

There are a number of protected maritime forests on the Outer Banks. One of the most accessible and the largest is Kitty Hawk Woods.

The Woods Road in Kitty Hawk, which is where the Outer Banks Marathon begins, goes through the heart of the reserve. There is also a multi-use path that parallels the road.

For the more adventurous, there are hiking or walking paths in the park. Suitable for almost anyone six years of age and up, they are a great way to learn about a side of the Outer Banks that is often overlooked.

In the summer, insect repellant is a necessity for walking the trails.

Click here for a trail map.

#joelamb,jr.  #kittyhawkwoods

Mother’s Day 2016-An OBX Delight

The Kitty Hawk Beach on Mother's Day 2016.
The Kitty Hawk Beach on Mother’s Day 2016.

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.

A fitting way to spend Mother’s Day.

OBX Beach Nourishment a Go for 2017

Kitty Hawk Beach during a storm. Kitty Hawk is particularly vulnerable to ocean encroachment.
Kitty Hawk Beach during a storm. Kitty Hawk is particularly vulnerable to ocean encroachment.

Beach nourishment is back on track and will begin in the spring of 2017. Originally scheduled to begin for the towns of Duck, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills in April of this year, initial bids were $4 million over estimates and were rejected.

A number of officials expressed the view that the dredging companies qualified to handle the task were tied up with a major project on the Mississippi River this year and did not feel an urgency to place competitive bids.

It would appear as though that was the case. The winning bid from Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company was $4.9 million less than the $43 million set aside for the project. Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company was the company that handled the Nags Head project in 2011.

Beach nourishment is being funded through an intralocal agreement requiring the towns to pay 40% of the cost and the county picking up the rest of the tab. The towns have created Municipal Service Districts (MSD) with properties closest to the beach paying additional property tax.

In Dare County, the Nags Head was the pioneer in beach nourishment. Although there have been some issues with sand encroaching on properties, there has been no property damage caused by ocean overwash since the town’s project was completed in 2011.

If all goes as planned nourishment will begin in April of 2017.

Anticipated Project Schedule Provided by Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company:

Town of Duck

Start Date: April 1, 2017

End Date: June 1, 2017

Town of Kitty Hawk

Start Date: June 1, 2017

End Date: August 20, 2017

Town of Kill Devil Hill

Start Date: August 20, 2017

End Date: October 10, 2017

OBX Nourishment Delayed

Kitty Hawk beach in the summer. Nourishment would widen the beach and protect beachfront properties.
Kitty Hawk beach in the summer. Nourishment would widen the beach and protect beachfront properties.

Delayed but still on the horizon, beach nourishment will be a part of the Outer Banks future.

Participants in an Intralocal Agreement between Dare County and the towns of Duck, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills had hoped to begin nourishing local beaches this summer. However, when the bids were opened, they were about 20% higher than expected.

Officials working with the program felt that at least some of cost overrun was attributable to scheduling conflicts from the dredge companies. The major component of the cost of beach nourishment is dredging sand from the sea floor and pumping it to the beach.

There is currently considerable dredging activity on the Mississippi River —at least one of the companies asked for an extension because of scheduling concerns. The hope is that without the prospect of a sure job in other places, the bids will come in closer to the estimate.

There are still concerns though. The town of Kitty Hawk held a special Town Council meeting to vote on whether to continue in the intralocal agreement. By a vote of 4-1 the council agreed to remain a part of the process. The mayor, Gary Perry, voted against continuing.

According to a written statement from Perry, there are still almost 40 unsigned easements from property owners. Without the easements, the town will have to take legal action to provide a limited condemnation of properties that would allow workers access to the beach.

Perry cited worries about legal costs and cost overruns of the project in voting to opt out.

County and town officials are hoping for a fall start to the nourishment process, although spring of 2017 seems more likely.

Dark and Stormy Night Perfect for Super Bowl Sunday

Will the knowledge of veteran QB Peyton Manning prevail over the skill and athleticism of Panther’s QB Cam Newton? The OBX gathers and waits.

“It was a dark and stormy night . . .” pretty much describes the Outer Banks weather this Superbowl Sunday. Actually the following phrase of Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s line—the author of that phrase—seems apt as well. “. . . except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind. . . “

In short, a perfect night to watch the Superbowl.

More evidence of just how it’s a great day to be inside. Here are two surf reports from—one of the best surf forecasting sites.

“ . . . your Kitty Hawk surf report. Cold and windy this morning. Surf in the 3-4 ft range with unorganized conditions. North winds at 20 forecasted to reach 40-50 later this evening. Perfect day to stay inside and enjoy the super bowl.”


Nags Head: “Unsurfable today. We are expecting a coastal storm to blow out of the North anywhere from 30-potentially 60mph … plus rain. There is also a coastal flood warning in areas North of Cape Hatteras today. . . It’s recommended to secure loose items around the house and keep an eye on the sound side water levels. . . Sounds like a perfect day to stay inside and enjoy the Superbowl.”

All things considered, the best place to be today is with friends, family or at local sports bar, enjoying what has become a wonderful part of 21st century America.

Being from North Carolina, it seems natural that we would favor the Panthers. However, there are so many transplants on the Outer Banks that we’re being very careful about taking sides.

The Wright Brothers Stuff


Wilber Wright flying in France, 1908 

It’s December 17, 2015, an important day on the Outer Banks, and to commemorate the 112th anniversary of the Wright Brothers Flight, here are three lesser known facts about the famous duo.

Wilbur had no front teeth. When he was 17 he was high sticked in a hockey game and his front teeth were knocked out. According to David McCullough in his book The Wright Brothers, Wilbur’s father, Milton, claimed the blow was struck by Oliver Crook Haugh, who went on to be one of Ohio’s most notorious killers.

The injury reshaped Wilbur’s life. A senior in high school, he was planning on attending Yale. He dropped out of school, and by all accounts became a recluse for three years. He spent the three years caring for his mother who was dying from tuberculosis.

Powered flight was not their only aviation breakthrough. Actually the Wright Brothers were not the first to realize powered flight. As one writer noted with enough power a barn door will fly. There had been a number of powered gliders making short hops before 1903.

What Wilbur and Orville accomplished was controlled, powered flight. They could turn in either direction and safely land at a time of their choosing.

They also made tremendous technological advances in propeller design. Their 1911 propellers have been shown to be just 5% less efficient than modern propellers.

The Wrights made almost no flights between 1906 and early 1908. Concerned that they had not yet received patents for many of their innovations, the Wrights stopped flying so no one could see what they were doing.

After receiving their patents, the US Government and France offered to purchase planes if certain conditions were met. The French in particular were skeptical, believing they had the lead in aviation technology . . . until Wilbur took his aircraft up for a quick flight to check his controls and performed feats no one in France even knew could be done.