September 28, 2017

Epilogue Maria

Filed under: Outer Banks,Sea,storms,Weather — j0jgvm89bj @ 4:42 pm

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.

 

 

 

September 26, 2017

Closer Call Maria

Filed under: Outer Banks,Sea,storms,Weather — j0jgvm89bj @ 3:00 pm

Thankfully Hurricane Maria is forecast to go by out to sea, east of us. It should be about a hundred miles away early tomorrow morning while weakening to a tropical storm.

Nonetheless it’s a blustery day in the villages, with gigantic seas and northeast winds gusting to 40 and higher.  As Maria passes, winds should clock around due north then northwest. The switching wind is usually dramatic.

At noon the ocean off Rodanthe was already in turmoil.

The main concern on Hatteras Island will be flooding from the Pamlico Sound. I’ll post more as conditions allow.

continued…. At sundown, I went to check the north end of town again. That’s where the action is.

This evening the S-Curve is still passable at low tide.

There were some breaks in the cloud cover with intermittent rain squalls.

It was a chore holding the camera steady in wind gusts.

For maximum sky coverage, I used a 20mm lens.

In the quickly fading light, I made sure to get a vertical shot.

Tonight I’ll have my truck parked on higher ground. Tomorrow will be different.

So far, so good!

September 25, 2017

Close Call Jose

Filed under: beach,buildings,Outer Banks,storms,Weather — j0jgvm89bj @ 2:45 pm

Late Summer through Fall has long been my favorite time to be on Hatteras Island. Crowds thin and weather conditions become more tropical. There are so many pluses, then tropical influences can develop into hurricanes.

I’ve always relished waves spawned from a distance. Sitting well offshore last week Jose generated some of the best surf in years. For a few of those days however, seas washed over the highway in spots and even shut it down for a tide cycle. I went to Rodanthe to investigate.

During road closures, north Rodanthe becomes a staging area for exiting traffic.

Sea water flows in from the beach and because of it’s salinity is highly corrosive for automobiles splashing through.

At the end of Surfside Drive sits another imperiled cottage.

In 1980 this beach house was 4 lots back from the oceanfront. Now look at it.

With NCDOT shutting down the main road, Mirlo Beach looked pretty empty and bleak.

NCDOT was busy working in the usual places, like S-Curves.

The oceanfront at Mirlo Beach has long been an area of high erosion rates. Homeowners there are certainly in a real estate bind, and with another storm named Maria coming, things are likely to get much worse.

I couldn’t resist a self portrait opportunity and wondered if this porch swing would still be intact next week, after Maria sweeps by the Outer Banks.

Hurricanes are a fact of life here and although we tend to compare some storms to others, they are unique unto themselves. The ones that pass well off the coast can be beautiful and dramatic, with spectacular skies.

In 1991, I made this photograph of the leading edge of Hurricane Bob as it approached Cape Hatteras. An evacuation had been ordered and the following day we experienced gusts near a hundred with the eye going by about 25 miles offshore.

With Hurricane Maria, about 300 miles to the southeast, we’re under an evacuation order. Tropical storm and storm surge warnings are up. Now it’s a waiting game.

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.