We have had a series of perfect beach days here on the Outer Banks, and today was no exception. And, the good news is, there doesn’t seem to be anything out there that will change that for the next three or four days.
What constitutes a perfect day for the beach?
First—there has to be abundant sunshine. But, it’s important that the sun doesn’t heat things up too much, and that has been the conditions for the past few days and it looks like the rest of the week. The forecast calls for daytime highs in the mid 80s—29 to 30 degrees for our Celsius friends.
A light breeze is nice as well. The ocean water temperature has been hovering around 75 degrees; that’s warm enough to be soothing but cool enough to be refreshing.
Finally—almost as important as the abundant sunshine—a relatively calm surf.
We fully understand that surfers will disagree with this last point, because there’s not much of a point to trying to surf an ankle high wave, but to families with little kids especially, it is a great introduction to how much fun it can be to play in the ocean.
There is not too much on the horizon that is going to change the conditions either. Way out in the Atlantic (way, way out) there is a system that the National Hurricane Center believes may become a named storm in the next day or two. Debbi if it gets to that point.
However, that system is about 1500 or 1600 miles out to sea and north of the Outer Banks and drifting northeast. It’s probably a concern for London, England more than anywhere in North America.
A day like we had today is a rare Outer Banks treat in February. Warm temperatures, a breeze from the southwest and the waves were breaking beautifully this morning.
Of course, the water temperature is still 45-50 degrees, so no one was in the water in shorts, but there were still a fair number of surfers and SUPs on the water—in dry suits.
It’s still a little early to tell, but it may be that a sandbar is forming across from where John’s Drive-in is located.
One of the effects of beach nourishment—and the entire Kitty Hawk beach was nourished—is sand from the beach forms a sandbar in the near shore. That sandbar is the part of the way beach nourishment protects the roads and homes along the shoreline.
If a sandbar is forming there, it would be there first time in a while that a sandbar has appeared there.
Farther north, a little south of Pelican’s Perch—that’s the pink Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates home that sits out on the beach—the sandbar is well formed and there were a number of surfers and SUP catching some waves.
It wasn’t just surfers enjoying a rare springlike day in February; dogs were out with their friends, their barks filled with joy. Quite a number of couples were strolling along the beach looking for sea glass and interesting shells.
A man with a metal detector was scouring the sand. Hadn’t found much though—an old nail that appeared to be square cut, raising the possibility that it came from awooden shipwreck—although that would be a remote possibility.
Of course 70 degrees in February is different than 70 degrees in July, but today was a great tease for the upcoming season.
And…it looks as though we’ll have a few more days like today on tap.
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.