June 29, 2017

Down Under Down

Filed under: aerial photography,buildings,history,Outer Banks,People,Piers,storms — j0jgvm89bj @ 11:18 am

Over the years I’ve seen restaurants here come and go. Some fail faster than others, and it’s not an easy business to achieve success. It’s about quality, quantity and customer satisfaction, among other things.

One of the most successful restaurants in our town was started at a location where several other restaurants had come and gone. The Rodanthe pier complex had reincarnations of restaurants in the same building with names like Cross Currents, Under Currents, JL Seagull and Down Under. There were others prior whose names have escaped me.

Undoubtedly the most successful was the Down Under, founded by Skip and Sheila Skiperdene. The name was coined by Australian ex-pat surfer Skip, who married Sheila a North Carolinian, and they began the Aussie-themed restaurant. It took a year or so to catch on, but with planning and hospitality it became hugely popular. Most summer evenings had dozens of patrons lined up outside the front door waiting to be seated. This went on for about ten years, when personal circumstances ended the epic run of Down Under circa 1999.

This 1989 aerial photograph shows the pier complex, including the restaurant building under the arrow. The proximity to the ocean made a dramatic venue for diners, but also contributed to it’s demise.

An aspiring restauranteur then bought the trademarked name and stepped in to continue to operate the business. Something however was missing and the restaurant was not quite the same. A few years later, things really went south when Hurricane Isabel pummeled the property.

After continuous battering from high seas, storm surge from Hurricane Isabel finally took it out in 2003. This photograph taken by my wife, was probably the last shot ever taken from the upper deck of the restaurant. It was a harrowing experience.

An aerial image shows the newly built Gallery restaurant circa late 1980’s. It featured local art, and a home-grown herb garden. The Gallery made national news when a man died from eating bad tuna there, ending that venture.

The Gallery was sold to a new owner and renamed Waves Edge. They employed local chefs preparing great meals. This 1991 photo was taken during their hey-day. It was popular with locals and visitors alike. That lasted until personal issues forced another sale, this time it was changed to Blue Water Grill, featuring an upstairs wine bar.

The new Down Under owner wanting to sustain the business, bought the building in Waves that had previous lives as The GalleryWaves Edge, and Blue Water Grill.

The new Down Under struggled for several years and eventually landed in foreclosure. It sat vacant and unmaintained a few years until it was bought by an adjacent property owner then demolished on June 27, 2017.

Going, going… pretty much gone!

Down Under is history. And it all began with Skip.

April 21, 2017

Hurricane Hunters

Filed under: aircraft,military,storms,Weather — j0jgvm89bj @ 5:29 pm

Reading the new issue of CoastWatch, I noticed an announcement that the NOAA Hurricane Awareness Tour is stopping in Raleigh at the RDU airport on May 10th. Two Hurricane Hunter aircraft are open to the public from 2 to 5PM, along with technical specialists and air crews to explain their jobs. The planes for viewing will be a US Air Force Reserve WC-130J and a NOAA G-IV. Staff from the National Weather Service Office in Raleigh, emergency management personel, American Red Cross, and North Carolina Sea Grant will also be on hand.

In 2007, I went to the Coast Guard Air Station in Elizabeth City to check out a similar “open house”. A crew had just landed one of two existing Lockheed WP-3D Orion aircraft used in weather reconnaissance. It was fascinating to see everything up close, personal, and learn from the scientists, pilots and technicians that fly these machines into powerful storms. The experience must be exhilarating yet perilous, but I think I’d go up in a heartbeat.

The Orion is powered by four Allison T56-A-14 turboprop engines rated at 4,600 shp each. The striped pole on the nose is a sample collector. The nose is also equipped with radar.Doppler radar is built into the tail section.

Additional radar is located on the bottom of the aircraft. Radar scans the storm vertically and horizontally for real-time analysis.

Underneath are launching tubes that fire out buoys with transmitters to record ocean temperatures at different depths.

Missions are documented on the fuselage, and I noticed quite a few familiar names. Two in the top row were Australian cyclones Rosa and Kerry in 1979. Occurring in the southern hemisphere, they rotate the opposite way ours do.

Before I entered the aircraft, Cdr. Tom Strong explained the workings of a dropsonde.

The receiving end of the dropsonde tube extends well into the plane.

Inside is a flying science lab for gathering vital information.

Then there’s the cockpit!

These P-3 aircraft, first introduced in the 60’s, have been upgraded and highly modified.

The service they provide makes a difference in public preparedness, and it’s information I’ve used numerous times on Hatteras Island.

 

 

 

 

October 17, 2016

Matthew’s Lesson

Filed under: Outer Banks,Pamlico Sound,storms,Weather — j0jgvm89bj @ 6:41 pm

With technological advances, weather forecasting has become better and better, but it’s still an inexact science. Nothing could teach that much more than Hurricane Matthew. Watching the weather radar and getting updates, tropical cyclones almost become living organisms. They are complex, and influenced by multiple meteorological mechanisms.

I’ve learned to take forecasting with some reservation, because most storm track predictions change over time as different atmospheric conditions interact. Here at home, I began monitoring Matthew as it became a hurricane on September 29th.

When Cape Hatteras was in the cone of possibility, I thought of boarding my windows, but overnight the forecast changed heading it out to sea, well to our south, even circling back toward Florida. Matthew defied that forecast, deviated somewhat, but continued its northward march along the coast. Still predicted to turn seaward, it headed northeast toward Cape Hatteras, and I was hoping it wouldn’t go up the Pamlico Sound, like Irene. Despite the warnings, our Dare County Control Group decided not to call for an evacuation of tourists or residents, and it turned out to be a bad decision.

Waiting for the turn that didn’t come, I went to bed Saturday night with a lowering barometric reading of 994 millibars. Onshore gale force winds blew that night with a little rain. Morning became more calm until about 5 AM, when we were awakened with an abrupt change of wind direction from the north and gusts near 90.

Matthew, despite predictions to be a tropical storm was still a hefty category one hurricane as it caromed off the Cape and out into the open Atlantic. By the time I checked the barometer again it was daylight and read 986 millibars. The wind gradually subsided throughout the day.

It was a close call for residents of Waves. Most everyone underestimated what this storm would do, and it could have been a lot worse for us. Our neighbors in Hatteras and Ocracoke were not so lucky.

soundEven at 11 that morning, the Pamlico Sound was still pretty rough.

houseI designed my house to shed gales from the north, so it fared well. There was  some standing rain water, a few broken branches and that’s it.

center-line                                 The tide rose just enough to overflow the ditches and spill over on to the highway.

ncdotWorkers from NCDOT are always on the scene quickly, salt water or not.

beachThe ocean was not as much a problem as was the Pamlico Sound.

uprootedThe main damage was with uprooted trees….

outer-beaches…. and broken, blown over signs.

truckThe biggest signs went down the hardest.

sunsetThe day ended better than it began, with a sailors’ red sky delight.

 

 

 

September 11, 2016

Hermine in Memorium

Filed under: beach,Outer Banks,Pamlico Sound,storms,Weather — j0jgvm89bj @ 3:30 pm

Since our latest tropical system passed recently, it gave me pause to think about all the others that have come before. The first for me was Hurricane Carol in 1954. My family lived at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and my father, a meteorologist for the Navy Weather Service, was gone on a reconnoissance flight out over the Atlantic. The hurricane tore off the back porch of our house and as the eye of the storm brought calm, my mother took us to a safer haven at a neighbor’s house. Even though I was very young, I remember it so well.

After consulting a climatology report on tropical cyclones affecting Cape Hatteras, I found over two dozen that have become memories in my life. Some like Gloria, Emily, Dennis, Isabel, Irene and Arthur had an impact. Others like Belle, Josephine, Gabrielle, Bob, Felix, Bonnie, and Hanna had lesser consequences.

Hurricane Hermine made landfall on the Gulf Coast of Florida and bore down on the Outer Banks as a tropical storm. Hatteras Island was right in it’s path.

cloudsTall cumulous clouds announced the storm’s approach, and we took the available time to clean up the yard and secure items worth saving. I set up my barometer to gauge the power of Hermine, and went to bed that breezy evening. About 2 AM, I was awakened by an east wind and rain beating my house. At times it must have been gusting to 60 or more and I could hear what some call the sound of a freight train. My barometer was at 1004 millibars.

radarI went back to sleep and when I awoke at around 6:30, there was no wind or rain. It was a beautiful, sunny morning. Incredulous, I checked the barometer that read 992 millibars, the lowest of the storm. I knew then we were in the center of the action.

sunnyThe only water on highway 12 was from about 6 inches of rain that Hermine brought. I saw people jogging by and I greeted one of them with a good morning. Her response clearly indicated that she thought the storm was over, but I knew we were in for a bit more on the backside.

beachThe beach north of the pier was nearly empty, and the blue sky overhead was surrounded by storm clouds. We were involved with the eye for over 4 hours. Then the wind switched and picked up from the opposite direction. We began hearing reports of storm surge flooding in Hatteras, Frisco, Buxton and Avon.

soundIn the thick of it I decided to check the sound shore of my property. The marsh was white-capped and under water. In the northerly winds, I had a hard time standing up, shooting and getting back to the house.

horizontalNext day, still under the influence of Hermine offshore, I photographed around a Pea Island dune that had shown the effects of the wind.

blowout                                          A blow out through the dune made some interesting patterns both vertically and horizontally.

duneLike many other storms, Hermine brought some silver-lined photo-ops.

 

 

 

January 25, 2016

Winter Storm

Filed under: black & white photography,history,Outer Banks,storms,Weather — j0jgvm89bj @ 3:14 pm

Last week, forecasters predicted a low pressure system to develop into a major winter storm for the east coast. Things turned out as expected with snow dumped to the north of us in dramatic amounts. At home, we had just over an inch of cold rain backed by some gale force winds. Oceanfront properties were threatened by large waves but little damage. Sound front properties saw tide surges of about 3 feet as west winds kicked in.

houseOn Saturday the seas were still running with strong westerlies blowing into the swells. This house at Mirlo Beach was awfully close to the action.

wavesThe surf and clouds were stunning.

offshoreWave tops were feathering nicely.

cemeterySadly on the sound side, seas were once again beating the shoreline at an old family cemetery in the Salvo day use area. Headstones and crypts were inundated and falling in the water. Other than that, this winter storm posed no serious problems.

The biggest winter storm I’ve seen here occurred 35 years ago in March of 1980. A coastal low was right on us as temperatures plummeted below freezing, accompanied by a foot of snow with northeast winds gusting to a hundred miles an hour. The blizzard brought white out conditions with zero visibility. Sea tide mixed with floating ice and snow flowed through Rodanthe.

hwy 12Bruce Midgett rescued Robin Gerald from his old house surrounded by 3 feet of tide and drove him to higher ground.

cottageThe Queen Cottage was one of the few oceanfront houses in north Rodanthe. I took this picture from the roof of my place with a 400mm lens. The cottage was eventually washed away in a later storm and no longer exists.

oceanAs seas washed around the Queen Cottage, I shot this picture from the deck. The ocean was breaking all the way to the horizon.

my houseLooking back from the Queen Cottage I photographed my house amid streets of sea water and ice.

I had never seen a storm like that before, nor have I seen one quite like it since.