When I wrote the post, Winter’s Back Is Broken, a number of folks questioned my sanity. It was February 27, and we were just thawing out from a late ice storm. We went through some fog as the air temperature raced ahead of our still cold waters but as the fog disappeared the weather started changing.
As I am writing this on Thursday, six days later, the temperature has just started dropping from today's high of 76F. We are sliding down a steep slope to a low temperature tomorrow (Friday) night of 21F. It might concern me if I did not understand that this is likely winter's last shot here on the southern part of North Carolina's coast.
It got so warm today that I opened the windows in upstairs of our south facing home just off the White Oak River near Swansboro, NC. I even switched to a short-sleeved t-shirt and only the dropping temperature will keep me from going back to the shorts that I wore yesterday on my afternoon hike.
The monthly forecast for the area looks very positive. The second week in March has high temperatures all in sixties except for two days at 58F and 59F. The third week in March has five days in the mid-seventies with one at 70F and another at 59F. There are no more thirties on the radar currently.
While we could still get a late March or very early April frost, winter really is in serious retreat. With that said, we are already beginning the first of the spring chores. Earlier this week, I spot treated my yard for weeds (mostly wild onions) and put down a pre-emmergent that will hold back some of the weed seeds that our centipede yards get. Our remaining winter beds of lettuce and greens have been tidied up with some mulch added to keep the lettuce clean as we eat the last of it before cleaning up the beds. In another week or so we will be spreading our compost on all our raised beds.
After we get through winter's last day, I will probably replant the onions that I stuck in the ground back in late February. The soil was perfect at the time and who knew that the arctic circle was going to slide down and embrace us for the rest of the month of February. It did give us our only snow event of the year if you can call one half of an inch a snow event. With no more winter on the horizon this time I hope I can safely plant our onions and radishes. Then our row of peas will also go into the ground along with some broccoli plants.
We still have to clean up some flower beds and do some quick pruning before things start growing in earnest but it looks like we will have the weather to do it. Unlike bluegrass areas which often have to mow before the end of March, we are lucky and will likely not have to mow until towards the end of April.
With no mowing and the water still too cool for serious fun, we plan to take advantage of the extra daylight by visiting some of the area's special places and a favorite museum or two like the Maritime Museum in Beaufort.
Spring always brings changeable weather but dropping from the mid-seventies to the fifties in a couple of hours is impressive enough without the thought that we will lose another thirty-five degrees in the next thirty-six hours. With the variable weather usually comes wind that stirs up our waters. Wind is part of life on the coast, and sometimes it hangs around a little too long in the spring. But the wind will eventually cooperate just like the air temperatures.
Beyond wind we worry about water temperature and how soon we can get out on the water. Most of us are living here because of the water. While there are many like me who boat all year, what we really want is water that is beyond enticing. We all know that perfect looking waters and skies with water that is close to wading temperatures are just around the corner.
It is not unusual for us to get all of our wishes here on the Crystal Coast during the month of March. Unless our forecast changes and a piece of the polar vortex breaks lose and takes up residence close to us, we should be on track for a very nice spring.
That means it will not be long before the call of the beach becomes irresistible and I start planning my first kayaking trip of the season. Until then I will bundle up for one last day and dream about saltwater before starting to harden up my tomato plants as they get ready to go into the ground in mid to late March.