Even during a winter storm, Hatteras Island is a peaceful place to be during the holidays. Over the years, I’ve gone to visit my family in Virginia most of the time. But when I first moved to Rodanthe in 1973, I spent my first Christmas here, away from the family.
Back then there weren’t nearly as many residents as there are now, and the place seemed empty and desolate during the holidays. That Christmas morning 37 years ago, I remember sitting alone on the porch of Valton Midgett’s 2 bedroom rental cottage during a big winter storm. Over the dune tops, I could see huge ocean swells rolling in, and a fierce northwest wind blowing spray off the wave tops, into dark and ominous skies. That image is burned in my mind, and I took no photographs. It was a defining, blissful moment for me.
Although things have changed since then, this Christmas was similar. A lot of locals left to be with loved-ones, and highway 12 was virtually empty and silent. At no other time of year can this be experienced, although hurricane evacuations can come close.
With this recent winter storm in the forecast, I was hoping to see a big snow event here. But all we had was less than a inch of rain, and a light dusting of snow, not enough to blanket the ground.
There were bitter winds coming off the Pamlico Sound. Tides were well above normal, enough to allow sea water to dribble across highway 12 at the S-Curve. With no beach there now, the “renourished” dune line built there by NCDOT is all but gone again.
Those that live here mark storms as a calendar. We associate our memories with certain storms in the past. Even though this one had minor impact for us, it was significant as all storms are.
Each one changes this dynamic barrier island in some way. The beaches and dunes shift about as a result of moving wind and water. The dunes and highway, like many man made artifacts here, are hanging by a thread. None of it is permanent.