This year on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands has been less eventful than the past few, which brought us hurricanes Irene and Sandy, along with major closures of Highway 12 north of Rodanthe for those storms and frequent northeasters.
This year, the tropical cyclone season in the Atlantic was uneventful – with fewer storms than predicted. Only one storm made landfall in the U.S. – Tropical Storm Andrea in early June, which came ashore in the Florida panhandle and brought some high seas and gusty winds to the islands.
A northeaster in early March did play havoc with Highway 12 – with both soundside and ocean storm tides.
However, by and large, travel over the Bonner Bridge and on Highway 12 was really an improvement over 2011 and 2012 – until safety concerns around scoured-out bridge pilings closed the span suddenly on Tuesday, Dec. 3, stranding many on one side or the other of Oregon Inlet.
The bridge was closed for 12 days, while islanders, visitors, and suppliers coped with the lengthy trip between Rodanthe and Stumpy Point on the emergency ferries.
Life returned to normal when the bridge opened on Sunday, Dec. 15.
However, once again, Ocracoke is dealing with a shoaled up ferry channel. Ferry runs are longer, and the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry schedule is shortened.
In addition to transportation woes, the islands had to cope with a two-week partial government shutdown in October that closed many facilities and access areas on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Both residents and visitors seemed to take it in stride and make the most of the inconveniences.
Otherwise, 2013 was fairly uneventful with high school graduations, fundraisers such as the Hatteras Island Cancer Foundation Fun Run and Kiwanis Club’s Bike the Light, and another successful Day at the Docks and Blessing of the Fleet.
In addition, Ocracoke had the first Blackbeard’s Pirate’s Jamboree.
Shipwrecks are still a fact of life on the islands. Two sailboats washed up on Pea Island in the fall, and one is still there, since the owner can’t afford to salvage it.
One local landmark, the Bodie Island Lighthouse, was reopened for climbing this year after several years of restoration.
And, another landmark, The Cape Hatteras Fishing Pier – aka the Frisco Pier – which has been closed because of storm damage for several years, has been sold to the National Park Service, which plans to tear it down and replace it with a beach access area.
Island Free Press photographer Don Bowers has chosen the photos in the slide show as his favorites for 2013.
Enjoy! And happy new year.