I keep up with the Reston weather because our family has some members still in the area. I often stayed at their Reston home during my years calling on accounts in and around the beltway.
I think my last account calls in the area were in late 2005 so it has been a number of years since I cooked in a suit in an epic Northern Virginia heat wave, but I still remember a number of hot weather seiges that match this recent one of six straight days above ninety degrees Fahrenheit. It is hard to erase the memory of a hike to the Pentagon through the tunnel in a suit on a steamy Washington day when the temperature made it into the upper nineties.
Certainly most people realize that living in a major metro area is different than living in a rural area near the coast. While there are many conveniences in and around Northern Virginia, we have a few things which create a more pleasant climate for humans especially when they are relaxing outside. A story focusing on the differences between the two areas will bring to light a few interesting tidbits.
Our home is near the part of North Carolina's Outer Banks that actually curves south from Ocracoke Island to Cape Lookout and then swings west from Cape Lookout. It means our beaches face the south. There are barrier islands along Carolina's coast almost all the way to South Carolina. We are just one part of them. Our particular area is about 55 miles northeast of Wilmington and almost 195 miles due south of Richmond. This map will help you visualize the area. You can actually drive to our area from the Reston area in six to seven hours.
The area where we live is often called the Crystal Coast or the Southern Outer Banks. Both tags are marketing tags that mask the name of Carteret County. It sounds better if you are going to the Crystal Coast for your beach vacation than it does if you say you are headed to Carteret County's beaches.
We are native North Carolinians and have lived here near the beaches of Emerald Isle for seven years. Obviously with that history in spite of our years in Canada, we are used to things being warm. Coastal weather can be confusing and hard to predict, but for the most part if you love the out of doors, our weather works out far better than the weather in an area like Washington or Northern Virginia.
It is not a secret that people have traveled to beaches for centuries to escape the heat. While it still gets warm and humid here in the summer, we do not have to deal with the heat island effect that contributes to the warmth of Northern Virginia metro area. It is interesting to note that Fairfax County has a thirty year urban tree canopy goal which will require it to plan over 60,000 more trees annually that when the goal was adopted in 2007.
We are lucky in Carteret County, a good portion of the Croatan National Forest's 159,000 acres are in our county. In addition to that 60% of the county is water. We also have huge areas of marsh land and the 56 miles of Cape Lookout National Seashore. All of those things contribute to an environment that is the opposite of an heat island. If you factor in our coastal breeze and often cloud free skies (221 sunny days per year), we have an environment which gets hot because it is in the south but is often pleasant because of the all the water and ocean breeze. We also do not have the huge expanses of asphalt and concrete buildings that suck up heat and store it. Until the area waters warm in late July and August, we have a big air conditioner.
Of course it does get hot here on the North Carolina coast. It is the South and we cannot escape that. However, water and nice breezes help us survive our hot times. Ruffled waters in a 25 MPH breeze on cloudless nights is about as good a cooling effect as you can get in the South in the summer.
So if the heat of Reston, Northern Virginia or the District of the Columbia is starting to get to you, there is still plenty of room here on the coast. The season has not been as busy as some and there are nice discounts available at some of the leading rental companies, including Bluewater Rentals and Emerald Isle Realty. If you need more details about the area, check out my book, A Week at the Beach - The 2013 Emerald Isle Travel Guide. The $4.99 cost will easily be recovered through tips in the book.
So what does a local do to stay cool. On Saturday morning, July 20, 2013, I was on the beach before 8AM For the next two and one half hours I was in ocean water above my knees fishing. There was a nice breeze and the skies were beautiful. I did not catch any fish on that trip but fish are always optional when the scenery is beautiful and the weather is just right. You can find pictures at this album.