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Outer Banks Guide > Outer Banks Blogs > Eve Turek's Natural Outer Banks Blog

Friday, January 5, 2018
The Frozen South - Part B
By New Year’s night, the wind was still blowing, and I dressed even more warmly to photograph the first moonrise of the year than I had on New Year's Eve morning for sunrise. (See last blog if you missed that.) Layers of cloud formed light and dark ribbons and I hoped at least one rift would give a glimpse of moonlight. A glimpse is about all I got, less than a minute’s worth, but I was in the right place at the right time for the moon at Avalon Pier. I’d driven up first to Kitty Hawk, thinking the cloud cover was thinner to the north, but I couldn’t get north enough to make a difference. The breakers looking south from the Kitty Hawk beach were amazing, but Avalon turned out to be just the right spot for the moon.

The next couple of days focused on a heat emergency up at SeaDragon (shout-out here to landlords Jim Braithwaite and Matt Price, both of whom came out to help, and to the folks with Ed Miller’s Delta Heating and Air of Southern Shores). Being in Duck gave me the chance to photograph ice on the Sound both from above, and from the perspective of walking the dry, sandy Sound bottom. The water has been low for days and I enjoyed being on the same level as the Canada Geese as they slipped and walked their way, looking for patches of open water. Remnants of a large wooden cask or barrel along with older random pilings appeared briefly while the water was at its lowest. A few swan arrived by late afternoon the second day. We drove home after dark, which once again put me at Avalon under a full moon. Timing is everything.

That brings us up to yesterday and our several inches of snow. As of now (nearly 4 pm on Friday the 5th), I have not been able to get out past my own little neighborhood. In fact, the roads are icier and slipperier now than they were this time yesterday, when the snow provided some additional traction. I drove slowly up to the Colington Harbour soundfront park late yesterday afternoon, and stopped off at a friend’s property which turned into a winter wonderland with all the snow on the trees.

Hopefully the temperature will get above freezing on Sunday, and I am hoping the timing allows the roads to be passable but still keeps some snow and ice cover in picturesque places! Stay tuned!

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This is about all of the full moon I could see on New Year's evening. First moonrise of the year, on January 1. Bodes well, I say--and means a chance for a Blue Moon later this month!

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Waves were breaking so quickly and in so many sets by New Year's night, the entire ocean to the south looked frothy.

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In my 40+ years living here, I've seen the Sound low many times, usually in conjunction with a hurricane. But this is the longest continuous period of low water I remember.

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The ice was still thin as the New Year began, but plenty picturesque.

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The Tundra Swan that returned to the cove seemed baffled by the ice. I can think of a caption here: "I told you the GPS said to keep going south!" (Not that SC, GA or FL was much warmer!)

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My second night at Avalon Pier. The moon rises about an hour later each evening, so the sky was much darker than on the night before when the moon was this high in the sky.

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Winter snow and ice, sound-side in Colington Harbour.

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The air temperature was in the 20's and whipping winds put windchills into the teens. But the breakthrough of the sunrays in late afternoon made the cold worth it!

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One thing I love about Colington is its many hardwoods, and its old remnant ridges. The snow made this look like an enchanted forest.

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We humans weren't the only ones dealing with snowy living quarters!

posted by eturek at 9:38 PM

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Friday, January 5, 2018
The Frozen South - Part A
The Frozen South – Part A

After what was a relatively mild 2017, with no major hurricanes and pretty decent weather all year, 2018 has started with a bomb, in the form of what meteorologists are terming a bomb cyclone that brought several days of deep freeze and several inches of snow to the Outer Banks—not to speak of snow as far south as Florida, and record storm conditions in the northeast.

December started off benign enough, with a pretty moonrise at Jennette’s Pier and a chilly (but not freezing cold) Christmas tree lighting in downtown Manteo. I haven’t been to the tree lighting for probably 30 years at least, and haven’t seen the Elizabethan Garden lights for more than 15, so both were a big, festive treat. Sharing the evening with dear friends who’d driven down specifically for the weekend made it even sweeter than the hot chocolate the Garden offered its guests!

In the middle of the month, my friend and fellow photographer Karen Watras and I had a genuine adventure! We try to plan an outing for ourselves near the end of each year, a sort of reward for our hard work all year long, work which often keeps us too busy to spend much time together until the off season.

This year, Karen proposed we drive to False Cape State Park in Virginia, somewhere neither of us had ever been, and take their tram tour. We rode to the site of an old cemetery from a settlement of shipwreck survivors in what came to be known as the Wash Woods community. Only the preserved steeple of their church is left of their settlement, that and the gravestones which bear witness to how hard life was for many of the families. The tram tour took us through topography that was a cross between Carova and Pea Island, with wooded ridges thick with live oak or scrub pine, and open areas managed for waterfowl. We saw a few swan but they were mostly at a distance. The various shorelines were picturesque although the clouds which teased with the promise of a beautiful sunset thickened and obscured the sun by late afternoon.

I woke Christmas Eve night not to the patter of little reindeer feet but to the Drumming Dance of Thunder Beings overhead. Thunder on Christmas Eve! How precipitous! I wasn’t sure what it might mean, except to look for snow sometime in the next week to ten days. I did not have to wait long.

On the 27th, I drove out to Roanoke Rapids and a (too brief) visit with my son and grandsons. When I left the beach, my car thermometer read 42 degrees. By Plymouth, it read 31 and it was sleeting/snowing! I drove out of the sleet and by the time I came home that evening the roads had not iced up.

On the 30th, I drove up to Duck and saw several hundred Tundra Swan that afternoon around the Blue Point pier and our little cove. I had been seeing lines of swan to the north, but only a few in our little cove. You can imagine my excitement.

So the next morning, I decided to brave the cold and get up for what may have been my coldest sunrise ever. I was layered up but really wanted to get to the beach on New Year’s Eve morning, the last sunrise of 2017. It was blowing hard and bitter cold. I didn’t stay out long at the ocean but did have a chance to see the sun rise well in the south over Nags Head Pier. I drove back up to Duck but the swan, geese, and ducks were too smart to stay out in the open with the whipping winds, and there was not one of the hundreds of waterfowl from the afternoon before anywhere in sight.

New Year’s morning saw snow flurries but no accumulation, and I remembered the Christmas Eve thunder. So sure enough, snow within about a week. Little did we know what was coming. The rest of the story, as Paul Harvey liked to say, is subject enough for its own blog, which will follow shortly. Meanwhile, here are images from our last month of 2017.

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There were tons of little gulls (Bonaparte?) flitting and flying in the lights just under the pier.

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Moon over Roanoke Marshes Light. I am almost never in Manteo at night, so this was a triple treat.

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One of the displays in the Elizabethan Gardens

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A beautiful live oak in False Cape State Park.

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All that is left of the church at Wash Woods. Vandals were trying to destroy or steal the steeple, so the Park has preserved its remains behind glass.

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The clouds near dusk were so dramatic I decided to convert this image to black and white to emphasize the contrast. By now our tram ride had turned quite chilly!

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After seeing the first swan in Duck on November 11, I was rewarded for my patient waiting to see hundreds of arrivals on Dec. 30th.

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There were more looking in the other direction, down the Sound.

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The afternoon light was exquisite and there was very little wind. That was the last calm day we have had!

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By New Year's Eve morning, the temperatures had dropped severely, the wind had picked up, and I was freezing cold out on the beach at dawn. Worth it though--2017's last sunrise.

posted by eturek at 6:06 PM

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