January 12, 2010

Almost out of the deep freeze?


Forecasters at the National Weather Service office in Newport, N.C., say that Hatteras and Ocracoke islands are headed for some warmer weather later this week.

“We’re going to have a major pattern shift,” said meteorologist Chris Collins.

After another day or two of cold temperatures, Collins said, a warming trend will begin, with highs perhaps reaching 60 by the end of the week.

That’s good news to us here on the islands.

We probably won’t get much sympathy from readers in other frigid areas of the country from the northeast down to Florida, but I can tell you that the weather out here has been frightful.

We didn’t see any snow, but we have had an extended period of very cold temperatures, much below normal for Hatteras and Ocracoke.

Temperatures in December were fairly close to normal, but by the end of the month and the first of January, the deep freeze set in.

The average high here in January is 54, and the average low is 39.

For the first ten days of January, the monthly average temperature was 32.4 degrees, and that is 14.2 degrees below normal.

The coldest day was Jan. 3 when the temperature dipped to 22 degrees.  On several days, the temperatures didn’t get much above freezing.  On Sunday, Jan. 10, the high was 31 and the low was 28.

And to add insult to injury, the wind has been howling out of the northwest, making the air seem even colder.

We’ve been warmer, though, than many areas on the coast.

Collins said early morning lows were the coldest in five years in some areas of eastern North Carolina.

For Hatteras, Collins said the temperatures have been lower than normal, but not record lows.  However, he noted, the long stretch of freezing temperatures are unusual here.

In past years, I’ve seen the sound frozen out as far as you could see.  Here in Brigands’ Bay this year, the main creeks are not frozen, but you can find plenty of ice close to shore and on grasses where the wind has blown the salt spray.

Dare County is warning that the ice in ditches, ponds, and creeks is not safe to venture out on. In many cases, the ice is only a thin sheet.  Public safety officials say it must be at least 4 inches thick for walking on.

On the bright side, though, the fishing has been great, according to my fishing adviser Rob Alderman, host of the cable show “Outer Banks Angler” and owner of the Outer Banks Angler store in Buxton.

He says that if you can take the cold, you have a good chance of catching puppy drum on the beach.  Anglers have been hauling in the fish from as far south as Ramp 55 and north to Ramp 23.  Frank and Fran’s tackle shop in Avon reported over the weekend that the “pups” were running 22 to 31 inches, and Frisco Rod and Gun reports the fishing has been great on the South Beach with plenty of puppy drum and some 3- to 5-pound speckled trout.

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