Cape Hatteras
Cape Hatteras
Cape Hatteras lighthouse North Carolina.jpg
An aerial view of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse prior to its 1999 relocation
Location United States
Coordinates 35°15?16.49?N 75°31?11.82?W / 35.2545806°N 75.5199500°W / 35.2545806; -75.5199500Coordinates: 35°15?16.49?N 75°31?11.82?W / 35.2545806°N 75.5199500°W / 35.2545806; -75.5199500
Cape Hatteras from space, October 1989

Cape Hatteras is a thin, broken strand of islands that arch out into the Atlantic Ocean away from the US mainland, then back toward the mainland, creating a series of sheltered islands between the Outer Banks and the mainland. For thousands of years these barrier islands have survived onslaughts of wind and sea. Long stretches of beach, sand dunes, marshes, and maritime forests create a unique environment where wind and waves shape the topography. A large area of the Outer Banks is part of a National Park, called the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. It is also the nearest landmass on the US mainland to Bermuda, which is about 563 nautical miles (648 mi; 1,043 km) to the east-southeast

The treacherous waters off the coast of the Outer Banks is known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic, Over 600 ships wrecked here as victims of shallow shoals, storms, and war. Diamond Shoals, a bank of shifting sand ridges hidden beneath the turbulent sea off Cape Hatteras, has never promised safe passage for ships. In the past 400 years the graveyard has claimed many lives, but island villagers saved many. As early as the 1870s, villagers served in the US Life-Saving Service. Others staffed lighthouses built to guide mariners. Few ships wreck today, but storms still uncover the ruins of the old wrecks that lie along the beaches of the Outer Banks.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore protects parts of three barrier islands: Bodie Island, Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke Island. Beach and sound access ramps, campgrounds, nature trails, and lighthouses can be found and explored on all three islands.[1]

The community of Buxton lies on the inland side of the Cape itself, at the widest part of Hatteras Island. It is the largest community on the island, and is home to the governmental offices and schools for the Island.

Geography

Cape Hatteras is a bend in Hatteras Island, one of the long thin barrier islands that make up the Outer Banks. It is the site where the two great basins of the East Coast meet.[2] The cape's shoals are known as Diamond Shoals.

Climate

An aerial view of where Hurricane Isabel cut inlets into Hatteras Island

Cape Hatteras has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen Cfa), with long hot summers, and short cool winters. Most of the area falls into USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 9.[3] Cape Hatteras is surrounded by water, with Pamlico Sound to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The proximity to water moderates conditions throughout the year, producing cooler summers and warmer winters than inland areas of North Carolina.[4]

During the summer, average daily highs are in the 85 °F (29 °C) range, and occasional intense (but brief) thundershowers occur. As a result of its proximity to water, temperatures above 90 °F (32 °C) are rare, with an average of only 2.3 days annually above 90 °F (32 °C);[5] one to three years out of each decade will not see any 90 °F readings. The coolest month, January, has a daily high of 52 °F (11.1 °C), with lows normally well above freezing (32 F). The average window for freezing temperatures is from December 12 to March 11 (allowing a growing season of 275 days), between which there is an average of 21 nights with lows at or below the freezing mark.[5] Extremes in temperature range from 6 °F (-14 °C) on January 21, 1985 up to 97 °F (36 °C) on June 27, 1952.[5]

Snowfall is observed only occasionally, and usually very light.[4] Precipitation, mostly in the form of rain, is over 58 inches (1,500 mm) per year, making it the wettest coastal location in North Carolina.[4] Precipitation is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. However, April and May represent a slightly drier season, while August to October are the wettest months.[4] On average, August is the wettest month, owing to high frequencies of both summer thunderstorms and tropical systems (hurricanes, tropical storms and tropical depressions) that affect the area, mostly from August to early October.[]

Due to its exposed position, Cape Hatteras is virtually the highest-risk area for hurricanes and tropical storms along the entire U.S. Eastern seaboard. Cape Hatteras can experience significant wind and/or water damage from tropical systems moving (usually northward or northeastward) near or over North Carolina's Outer Banks, while other areas (i.e. Wilmington, NC or Myrtle Beach and Charleston, SC to the south and Norfolk, VA and Maryland's Eastern Shore to the north) experience much less, minimal or no damage. The Cape Hatteras area is infamous for being frequently struck by hurricanes that move up the East Coast of the United States. The strike of Hurricane Isabel in 2003 was particularly devastating for the area. Isabel devastated the entire Outer Banks and also split Hatteras Island between the two small towns of Frisco and Hatteras. NC 12, which provides a direct route from Nags Head to Hatteras Island, was washed out when the hurricane created a new inlet. Students had to use a ferry to get to school. The inlet was filled in with sand by the Army Corps of Engineers which took nearly two months to complete. The road, electrical and water lines were quickly rebuilt when the inlet was filled.[]

Climate data for Cape Hatteras (Billy Mitchell Airport), 1981-2010 normals,[a] extremes 1898-present[b]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 75
(24)
76
(24)
82
(28)
89
(32)
91
(33)
97
(36)
96
(36)
94
(34)
92
(33)
89
(32)
81
(27)
78
(26)
97
(36)
Mean maximum °F (°C) 69.1
(20.6)
68.7
(20.4)
72.9
(22.7)
78.1
(25.6)
83.5
(28.6)
88.9
(31.6)
90.6
(32.6)
90.0
(32.2)
87.5
(30.8)
82.5
(28.1)
76.8
(24.9)
71.1
(21.7)
91.4
(33)
Average high °F (°C) 52.2
(11.2)
53.5
(11.9)
58.6
(14.8)
66.3
(19.1)
73.7
(23.2)
81.0
(27.2)
84.6
(29.2)
84.1
(28.9)
79.9
(26.6)
72.0
(22.2)
64.0
(17.8)
55.9
(13.3)
68.9
(20.5)
Average low °F (°C) 38.7
(3.7)
40.0
(4.4)
44.6
(7)
52.6
(11.4)
60.5
(15.8)
69.3
(20.7)
73.6
(23.1)
72.9
(22.7)
69.0
(20.6)
59.7
(15.4)
51.2
(10.7)
42.7
(5.9)
56.3
(13.5)
Mean minimum °F (°C) 23.1
(-4.9)
26.2
(-3.2)
30.5
(-0.8)
38.0
(3.3)
47.1
(8.4)
57.4
(14.1)
64.5
(18.1)
63.8
(17.7)
57.5
(14.2)
45.2
(7.3)
36.5
(2.5)
28.0
(-2.2)
21.2
(-6)
Record low °F (°C) 6
(-14)
11
(-12)
19
(-7)
26
(-3)
39
(4)
44
(7)
52
(11)
56
(13)
45
(7)
32
(0)
22
(-6)
12
(-11)
6
(-14)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 5.24
(133.1)
4.02
(102.1)
4.77
(121.2)
3.64
(92.5)
3.57
(90.7)
4.03
(102.4)
4.99
(126.7)
6.93
(176)
6.25
(158.8)
5.38
(136.7)
4.95
(125.7)
4.27
(108.5)
58.04
(1,474.2)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 0.3
(0.8)
0.1
(0.3)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
1.3
(3.3)
1.7
(4.3)
Average precipitation days 10.6 10.5 10.3 8.8 8.8 10.1 11.6 11.2 9.6 8.9 9.6 10.4 120.4
Average snowy days 0.4 0.3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.3 1.0
Average relative humidity (%) 75.3 74.3 74.1 72.3 77.3 79.0 80.9 80.6 78.5 75.8 75.1 75.1 76.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 153.7 162.8 224.8 261.3 278.3 272.4 282.9 267.1 233.0 207.2 170.8 142.8 2,657.1
Percent possible sunshine 49 53 61 66 64 63 64 64 63 59 55 47 60
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961-1990)[5][6][7]

History

The Cape Hatteras Life Guard Station, which later became part of the Durant Motel, and was upended by Hurricane Isabel in 2003

The name Hatteras is the sixth oldest surviving English place-name in the U.S. An inlet north of the cape was named "Hatrask" in 1585 by Sir Richard Grenville, the admiral leading the Roanoke Colony expedition sent by Sir Walter Raleigh. It was later applied to the island and cape as well, and modified to "Hatteras."[8] Hatteras is the name of the Hatteras Indians.[9]

Because mariners utilize ocean currents to speed their journey, many ships venture close to Cape Hatteras when traveling along the eastern seaboard, risking the perils of sailing close to the shoals amid turbulent water and the frequent storms occurring in the area. So many ships have been lost off Cape Hatteras that the area is known as the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." Cape Hatteras is also well known for surfing.[10][11]

The first lighthouse at the cape was built in 1803; it was replaced by the current Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 1870, which at 198.48 feet (60.50 m) from the ground to the tip of its lightning rod is the tallest lighthouse in the United States and one of the tallest brick lighthouses in the world. In 1999, as the receding shoreline had come dangerously close to Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, the 4830-ton lighthouse was lifted and moved inland a distance of 2,900 feet (880 m). Its distance from the seashore is now 1,500 feet (460 m), about the same as when it was originally built.

The E.M. Clark (shipwreck and remains), Empire Gem (shipwreck and remains), and USS Monitor are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[12][13]

Awards and recognition

Cape Hatteras has received the following awards:

Top 10 U.S. Beaches, The Travel Channel [14]

Top 10 U.S. Beaches for 2016, CNN [15]

America's Top 10 Beaches of 2015, Forbes [16]

Notes

  1. ^ Mean monthly maxima and minima (i.e. the expected highest and lowest temperature readings at any point during the year or given month) calculated based on data at said location from 1981 to 2010.
  2. ^ Official temperature and precipitation records for Cape Hatteras were kept at Hatteras from January 1893 to February 1957, and at Billy Mitchell Airport since March 1957. Snowfall and snow depth records date to 1 January 1908 and 1 January 1948 respectively.[5] For more information, see ThreadEx.

References

  1. ^ USC 459
  2. ^ Heavey, Bill (June 5, 1996). These are the Mid-Atlantic Bight, from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras, and the South Atlantic Bight, from Cape Lookout to Cape Canaveral. "Point Well Taken" Check |url= value (help). The Washington Post. p. C9. 
  3. ^ The Arbor Day Foundation. "The Arbor Day Foundation". arborday.org. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Local Climatological Data-Annual Summary with Comparative Data: Cape Hatteras" (PDF). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "NOWData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved . 
  6. ^ "Station Name: NC CAPE HATTERAS AP". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved . 
  7. ^ "WMO Climate Normals for CAPE HATTERAS, NC 1961-1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved . 
  8. ^ Stewart, George (1945). Names on the Land: a Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States. New York: Random House. p. 23. 
  9. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 152. 
  10. ^ "The Best 5 Surfing Waves". rodndtube.com. 
  11. ^ "10 Best Surf Spots on the East Coast". Made Man. 
  12. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  13. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Listings". Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 9/16/13 through 9/30/13. National Park Service. 2013-10-18. 
  14. ^ "Top 10 U.S. Beaches"''The Travel Channel'', Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  15. ^ Hetter, Katia. "Dr. Beach names top 10 U.S. beaches for 2015'''CNN'', 23 June 2016, Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  16. ^ "America's Top 10 Beaches of 2015"''Forbes'', Retrieved 8 April 2016.

External links


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