Grand Finale for 2010

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. 

I took this photograph from my truck as I drove past the dune at the S-Curve on highway 12.

The old decommissioned Coast Guard Station at Oregon Inlet awaits its uncertain fate. It has been restored and stabilized by the State of North Carolina.

This is the site of a borrow pit at Oregon Inlet, where NCDOT has excavated sand to rebuild dune systems along highway 12.

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.


3 thoughts on “Grand Finale for 2010

  1. John Halminski

    More amazing photos Michael as always. I look forward to each and every new post. Just a thought, it would be nice for the local energy provider, the ones who installed the overhead power lines along Hwy 12, to bury them. That would be money well spent.

  2. B. J. Huff

    Best time to experience Hatteras is with a winter storm or a hurricane. Went thru many storms with you, and i will never experience anything more memoriable in my life time. My wife wants to send me to Hatteras when a hurricane comes back, just because all i do is call you, asking about the situation. People just don’t understand how exciting it is to be in a situation like a big winter storm or a hurricane, theres no real expression to explain but to just be there. Always enjoy you pictures, and thanks for teaching me how to use a camera. As usual, talk too you soon. Say “hi” to Denise.

  3. j0jgvm89bj Post author

    That idea was brought up about 15 or 20 years ago, but never realized. I agree it would be nice visually, to have buried power lines. Sometimes birds get caught up in them, but mainly they hum when the winds hit 35 and above.

    The power down here, as you may remember, used to go out all the time. Salt build up on insulators would cause pole fires too. Now the lines have been upgraded to serve more people and so electricity is much more reliable.

    On a similar note, we also hear about wind farm ideas in the Pamlico Sound and other places in this region. The future will be interesting, especially if sea level is indeed rising.

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