One of the first things we often hear from visitors or new residents is a complaint about the the humidity in the summer time.
I grew up in North Carolina and even in the Piedmont area, it can be humid. We lived in the mountains of Southwest Virginia for twenty years, yes it can also be humid. We have lots of vegetation here and it rains a lot here on the Southern Outer Banks.
If you look at this observed precipitation map of the United States for the last six months, you will notice that Carteret County has gotten between twenty and thirty inches of rain in the last six months. That is about normal. It is also the reason we can grow so many water intensive agricultural crops without irrigation and that we have such beautiful forests.
When we first moved from Maritime Canada to Maryland, I thought that I was going to die from the heat and humidity. My career at Apple kept in a suit most of the time. The tall trees in Maryland seemed to keep the air from moving. Our home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, did not even have air conditioning. I can remember wearing a light down jacket to a soccer game in Halifax once in July.
Part of the problem in Maryland was too many white shirts with ties and not enough shorts and tee shirts. We have been living on the Carolina coast since 2006. I wear short close to ten months out of the year. We set our air conditioning or more correctly heat pumps on 82F during the day. When we go out during the day when it is mostly in the mid-eighties, it feels warm. More importantly it feels cool when we come inside. If we lived with the temperature in our home set to 72F, it would be like walking into a meat locker.
The reality is that you get used to where you live unless you hide inside an air conditioned cocoon all the time. When we lived in central New Brunswick, I thought twenty degrees Fahrenheit was a heat wave. I was used to working outside in temperatures as cold as minus 40F.
If you want to live in North Carolina on the coast, you have to accept the humidity as part of the climate that is as much a part of the state as the mountains or the beaches. The good news is that most days we have a very nice breeze.
On moving here, I quickly learned that life and weather over by the ocean is much different than here on the mainland. By road we are about six or seven miles to the beach. It would be a little more than half of that if you could fly.
In spite of the short distance, it is not unusual to see the temperature drop 10-15 degrees by the time you get to the beach during the day in winter and spring. I have recorded a number of funny moments when I felt comfortable wearing shorts near our home but ended up freezing when I got out of the car over on the beach.
While the beach gets almost continuous wind, we seem to get more nice breezes and miss some of the worst winds because we have walls of trees that slow the wind from some directions.
Weather is weather, if it is too cold, wait a while, and it will soon be too warm. We have been on the coast so long that when the temperature gets below sixty we act like we are going to freeze.
Our perspective on the weather is influenced by not being in a town or having houses close around us. It is almost if the shape of the cleared area where our subdivision is and its position relative to the river enhances summer breezes. When the construction crew was doing our home, I can remember being told more than once that they were pleasantly surprised with how cool it stayed in the heat
Of course that is all relative. It you are living in air conditioning turned down to 68F, and you expect our summer breezes to feel cool, you will feel greatly disappointed.
You get used to the climate only if you spent plenty of time out in it. I grew up in North Carolina around Winston-Salem, NC. We did not even have an air conditioner until I was eight or nine years old. You live with what you have, and perhaps the weather always looks nicer someplace else, but as I child I can only remember one or two nights of retreating to our air conditioned living room for a night's sleep.
However, anytime you write about the weather and come close to bragging, you are likely to be humbled quickly.
The day after I wrote a post on how little fog we have, we had a series of three of the foggiest days that we have seen since we moved here nearly eight years ago. Not long after I proclaimed we rarely get snow, we got our 1/2 inch of snow.
We have seen rainstorms of historic proportions here including one that brought us 20.25 inches of rain in less than 24 hours. We were getting very dry here at the end of June 2014. In space of four days, we have gotten 4.85 inches of rain.
I will take the rain and the humidity that comes with it. There are nights when the combination of warmth, humidity, and soft breezes make it feel like a perfect summer beach night and I like that warm, cozy feeling.
I have seen drought and it is not pretty. No area is perfect. Most places are what you make of them. Lots of people love living in the Seattle area. There is not much sunshine up there and lots more rain than we have. A standard present for attending a convention in Seattle is an umbrella
We enjoyed living in New Brunswick for eleven years, but it was nice when we moved to Halifax, NS and the black fly bites on the kids necks could finally heal. You could wear tennis shoes in the winter instead of artic boots. There are different challenges here. We have humidity, heat, and some hurricanes. Also the waters are shallow and take some skill to navigate, but the diversity of marine life is hard to beat in an area with at least three seasons.
I am not a fan of California style weather where things stay much the same. California appeals to lots of folks but a long term drought that seems endless is much harder to deal with than seasonal humidity.
Certainly you cannot appreciate the heat without some cold. I could not feel the benefits of living where I do if I had not lived and worked in cities and some pretty cold parts of Canada. While I look forward to the heat of the summer, it can strain your body. Just trying mowing a yard here in mid-summer and you will feel like a real Southerner instantly.
The true measure of summer on the coast can be summed up a couple of ways. The first is that you know it is really summer when you get in the shower and do not have to bother with hot water. The water coming from the tap is warmed by the ground, but your overheated body still finds it refreshing. Second you know you are well into summer when you are averaging between two and three showers per day.
When I cannot get in the shower, I solve the heat problem in three ways. My first choice is a quick dip in the pool that it just across the cul de sac from our home. If I can make time, getting out on the water with my kayak or the skiff ends up being a cooling experience that also lets me relax. That works well early in the morning and late in the evening.
However, there are some weeks when the waters in the river and swimming pool warm to the point that they are no longer cool. Then the only solution is jumping in the ocean and letting the cool ocean water hit the middle of my back. That never fails to cool me down. It is the magic spot on my body for releasing all the heat. Fortunately we are never more than ten minutes away from the beach so I do not suffer a lot from the few weeks of hot weather.
In the end weather is more about what you make of it than how hot, cold or wet it can be. It you are going to be on the east coast, Carteret County is not a bad place to be. You can find some great places on the water for reasonable prices.
I can guarantee one thing if you let a wave like the one at the top of the post hit you in the middle of your back, you will not be worrying about humidity. We have more waves than humidity.
For more on life here on the Crystal Coast, check out my posts at Life Along The Crystal Coast.