Over dinner, I asked Mom about the old saying about old red skies in morning or evening on this March day. She laughed and said it was one of those things that just took hold based upon observation. She surmised that an old fisherman or sailor might have come up with it from his seasonal experience in a line of work that depended on understanding the weather. After all, no one wants to go out in a ship or a boat on open water if a big storm could be anticipated and windy weather in a changeable time of year often would indicate that. With my curiosity still in high gear, I watched the evening weather forecast as I loved Joe Foulkes, the deep voiced local weatherman, vividly explain what he saw through the charts. There was one thing in his remarks that piqued my attention. He said that there was a possibility of a stationary low pressure system down in North Florida running up the East Coast in conjunction with a fast moving frontal system moving in from the west. If that were to happen just right, a nor'easter would form, but at that time there was no idea if, in fact, it was a likelihood or how strong it might be if it did. So, I went to bed that night thinking about his words.
Even as a boy I didn't fall asleep quickly. I always had trouble turning my thinking "hat" off, sometimes thinking about school things, sometimes about plans for the coming weekend, but on this evening I was thinking about Nags Head and what a storm, if one came, would do there. And since the evening's sunset was not red, I made the jump to an assumption that it meant the next day would be stormy for sure. finally I fell into a deep sleep and I remembered nothing until waking up the next morning and going to the window to check on the weather. I found it gray and dreary and, what's more, the clouds were moving rapidly by from the northeast to southwest and the wind was beginning to gust. Could this be the beginning of a big nor'easter? I had no way of knowing.
Not knowing was probably a good thing, for if I had known what the near time future held, I would have been very concerned and worried. but that would only come later. But for now, it was just the beginning of another school day and I was off to try and learn something new. I would, however, check on things at the end of the day and hopefully realize that my thoughts were just those of a young boy finding problems where there were none. But unbeknownst to me or even the local weather forecaster, things to the south were starting to change and the changes would be dramatic. A perfect storm would soon form and when it did and started moving northward, I would experience an event that I will never forget. It would become the coastal Storm of the Century, a massive nor'easter which create disaster and major beach erosion from South Carolina to New England. No place would be more adversely impacted than the Outer Banks and even in the protected waters of Hampton Road, flooding set some new records. We'll look at it's continuing impact tomorrow with the coming of March 6th.