Category Archives: Weather

Florence

A week ago I sat at the Tiki-Ti bar in Los Angeles watching a bartender making tropical drinks, like hurricanes.

Today I’m sitting in my house in the fringes of Hurricane Florence. What a difference. Real hurricanes spawn emotions like no other. Preparation is tedious and keeping updated on the storm essential. But at some point one must cross the line of either staying or evacuating. It’s a serious decision to make. Based on all the information I could process on Florence, I decided to stay.

Yesterday was gorgeous with big puffy clouds and building surf.

Today is much different as weather rapidly deteriorates.

Highway 12 has no traffic and almost everyone’s gone.

At noon the eye of Florence was right below Cape Hatteras and moving in on Wilmington.

By the end of the day, strong winds from the east had lowered the Pamlico Sound behind my place by about 4 feet.

Overnight was wet and windy, though not extremely so. Barometric pressure never went below 1008 millibars. The bullet dodged us. Next morning the first place to look is Rodanthe Pier. It always was the go-to spot and still is. I hope this isn’t last legs for our local hangout. It’s a constant maintenance pit.

This swirling environment is also tough on a new Leica lens.

The erosion around the fishing pier has accelerated in the last few years, and it doesn’t resemble anything like it was 30 or 40 years ago.

It appears the pier itself has basically been spared this time.

Meanwhile in North Rodanthe the beach continues its retreat.

The beach in Salvo remains broad and more able to sustain nature’s onslaught.

What’s next, take down the plywood already?

 

It’s a Gift

Early March is known for stormy weather. Notorious  examples of this on the Outer Banks are the Ash Wednesday storm of 1962, the hundred mile an hour blizzard northeaster of 1980, and the 1993 white hurricane that brought substantial flooding.

This year back to back northeasters took yet another bite out of the island. Route 12 was highly compromised in several spots, and weather conditions were generally cold, windy and wet. Rather than documenting it with my camera, I spent much of that time painting the walls inside my studio.

At one point, I peered outside as rainy skies cleared about half an hour before sunset. Anticipating dramatic light, I took the hint to grab my Nikon and head to the beach. I was rewarded with a brilliantly lit sea under a colorful rainbow.

I had a 20mm lens to shoot a turbulent ocean framed by the rainbow.

I couldn’t resist shooting the ends with a 200mm lens.

The telephoto effect brought the seas closer for impact.

As the light dimmed, I caught one last glimpse.

With the perceived negative aspects of coastal storms, there are always some gifts that come with them.

 

 

 

Winter Photo Ops

Weather has always been a catalyst for my photography, so Cape Hatteras was a good place to spend life pursuing such a passion.

This winter’s events motivated me to shoot a few times, and get acquainted with a new mirrorless camera.

Our second snowfall in two weeks came on the 18th of January. It was drifty, amounting to perhaps 5 inches. The black needle rush in the marsh made a surreal scene as it poked through the whiteness.

Out on the beach the snow was whipped through the dunes.

Sand and snow mixed abstract patterns everywhere.

Vegetated areas behind the dunes caught most of the snow.

As air temperatures moderated over the cold water, a fog set in. I used a 45mm Leica lens on my Lumix camera to shoot the Bodie Island Lighthouse.

On the other side of Oregon Inlet, I stopped at the 1897-built Coast Guard Station. The environment there has been so unstable that it was decommissioned in 1988 due to encroaching seas. The Coast Guard then relocated to a new complex north of Oregon Inlet. The old building has since become a popular subject for artists and photographers. The state of North Carolina restored the dilapidated exterior and has yet to decide its fate.

I recently made my last haul of oysters for the season. They’ve died off and have been over harvested, now scarcer than ever. It took me hours to fill a bucket. Hopefully they’ll rebound and come back.

The Big Freeze

The 2018 new year came in with a cyclone. It had been nice and peaceful with the holiday season coming to a close, and everyone began bracing for a well-forecast storm.

On the evening of the 2nd it started with about 2 inches of rain, then turned to snow by 4 in the morning. By that time the barometer had plunged to 976 millibars. I don’t think I had seen that since hurricane Emily grazed by in 1993. Gusts were measured in the mid-70’s from the northwest. My house shook. We were in the middle of one of our rare blizzards. Temperatures dropped into the low 20’s then high teens at night.

The warm up before the storm came at Eric and Val Stump’s New Years Eve party. A few snowflakes dropped as did the temperature.

Eric did a great job roasting some crab slough oysters.

Then on the morning of the 3rd, I saw my truck sprayed with icy snow.

The yard became a frozen winter wonderland.

My business banner had been blown away and it’s mast bent.

After snowing 3 inches, it was 25° and blowing a gale.

Oyster gloves were frozen to the clothes line.

My bathroom window had some interesting ice patterns on it.

Bundled up for the coldest conditions, I explored the Salvo Day Use Area.

The Rodanthe Pier pilings were plastered on the northwest sides.

Meanwhile the oyster shoot for Old Christmas had begun. It was low 20’s with a stiff northerly wind.

Everyone was gathering on the lee side of the Community Building, unless they were shooting.

A festive reunion for family and friends, Joey Jr. (left) celebrates with Tom Wiley and Joey O’Neal Sr.

I couldn’t resist shooting my long-time friends Brent Midgett, Willy Smith, and Larry Midgett.

To the victor of the oyster shoot go the spoils. Better eat ’em quick before they freeze.

Emily prepares to shoot as her dad Tom Wiley looks on. As is a proud family tradition here, she serves in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Larry Midgett was helping his daughter Tanya, get ready for her turn to shoot. Tanya is also following in the U.S. Coast Guard tradition, and currently stationed at Hatteras Inlet.

There was always someone waiting to shoot.

Even the young ones got in on the act. Camouflage was everywhere.

The next day frigid temperatures continued. It was 17° at night, and the sound froze out even further, as far as I could see.

From a second story deck, I couldn’t see any open water, only a duck blind on the horizon.

Behind my house the sound was solid. I heard some kids in Salvo rode their bikes on it.

Jon Brown and I marveled at the spectacle. It happens, but not often.

 

Epilogue Maria

Wednesday morning my barometer was still reading 996 millibars as the center of Maria moved slowly northward offshore over a hundred miles away.

The winds shifted from northeast, north and then northwest. Already high sound tides were getting slightly higher, but not high enough to cause concern. Our neighbors in Hatteras Village and Ocracoke had more storm surge and it flooded some of their streets.

Meanwhile the tumultuous ocean wet the highway through Mirlo Beach.

The artificial dune line north of town was keeping the highway passable.

NCDOT worked frantically to keep the water from washing out the road at the S-Curve…. just barely.

It looks like north Rodanthe survived another one.

Seas were still intense yet I could see it was beginning to show signs of moderating.

The clouds from Maria kept drifting around.

Rodanthe Pier is always a great place to view the excitement.

Eric and I ventured out on the shaky deck as a huge set rolled in and broke right in front of us.

We were astonished to see a couple of teenagers body surfing in the hurricane soup… just craziness.

Having been out on the blowing beach all day, I decided to head home and wash the sand off.

Later I drove to ramp 25 to end my date with Maria. The seas were calming down as the sun set.

Hurricane clouds loomed in the sky.

And I kept shooting the awesome environment around me.

The best hurricanes are the ones that keep their distance.