Visitors Still Fill Outer Banks Roads

Vernal Pond at Jockey's Ridge. Waters are remaining above ground much longer than has been seen in the past.
Vernal Pond at Jockey’s Ridge. Waters are remaining above ground much longer than has been seen in the past.
Visitors Extend Outer Banks Stay

It’s the week after Labor Day and the roads are still filled with our visitors. That’s great. Here at Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates we love our guests and we’re thrilled so many have decided to stay another week.

The big news, of course, up and down the East Coast is Hurricane Irma, and it does look as though the Outer Banks will be spared. There is, of course relief, but it’s hard not to be concerned—even frightened—for what so many have gone through and will go through.

It has been a great summer with lots of fantastic beach days. Somehow in all of that, though, a lot of rain fell. At last check, the Outer Banks was about 75% over average for the summer.

That much rain does have and effect, and one of the most dramatic examples of that is at Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head.

Across from the observation deck there is always a small pond at the base of the dune.

Called a vernal pond, it is an interesting phenomenon. Created by groundwater being forced to the surface, it is typically fairly small, although during periods of heavy rain it does swell.

And swell it has this year, to a size that is only seen after a tropical system dumps 5” or 6” on Jockey’s Ridge. The difference with what we are seeing now, is the pond has not shrunk.

The effect of vegetation is dramatic. Grasses are sprouting up where there has been none for years. Botanists we have spoken to are divided on whether that is long dormant seeds springing to life or windblown seeds.

The past few years have been a little bit over average for rainfall—althoough nothing like this year, and woody plants are becoming more apparent, especially along the banks of the more established parts of the pond.

There are other very different characteristics of the pond, now that it’s some 12 or 15 times larger that it has been. It’s so unique, so much an amazing example of nature at work, that a trip to see it is worthwhile.

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