The Intracoastal Waterway is a 3,000-mile inland waterway along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the United States, running from Boston, southward along the Atlantic Seaboard and around the southern tip of Florida following the Gulf Coast to Brownsville, Texas. Some sections of the waterway consist of natural inlets, saltwater rivers and sounds, while others are artificial canals, it provides a navigable route along its length without many of the hazards of travel on the open sea. Many species of plants and animals can be seen along the path of the ICW; the shipping hazards and safe havens of the Atlantic coast have been well known and appreciated since colonial times, considered of great commercial and military importance to both the colonial power and the newly established, independent United States. The physical features of the eastern coast were advantageous for intracoastal development, resulting from erosion and deposition of sediment over its geologic history, but enhanced and redistributed by the action of the Atlantic Ocean currents along it.
Since the coastline represented the national border and commerce of the time was chiefly by water, the fledgling US government established a degree of national control over it. Inland transportation to supply the coasting trade at the time was less known and undeveloped, but when new lands and their favorable river systems were added in 1787, a radically new and free national policy was established for their development and transportation use. Over time, internal improvements of natural coastal and inland waterways would develop into the Great Loop, which allows for waterborne circumnavigation of the eastern continental United States, using minimal ocean travel, with the Intracoastal Waterway providing its eastern end; the improvement of the country's natural transportation routes was a major concern for all geographic regions and from a national perspective of building and binding the nation. These improvements were a source of political division about where and how improvements should be developed, who should pay, who should perform the work.
In 1808, the first federal government report on existing and avenues of transportation improvement was presented. In 1802, at the request of the Senate, Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin presented an overall plan for future transportation developments of national importance and scope. Along with inland east–west improvements, Gallatin's north–south improvements included the following: The map of the United States will show that they possess a tide water inland navigation, secure from storms and enemies, which, from Massachusetts to the southern extremity of Georgia, is principally, if not interrupted by four necks of land; these are the Isthmus of Barnstable, that part of New Jersey which extends from the Raritan to the Delaware, the peninsula between the Delaware and the Chesapeake, that low and marshy tract which divides the Chesapeake from Albemarle Sound.... Should this great work, the expense of which, as will hereafter be shown, is estimated at about three millions of dollars, be accomplished, a sea vessel entering the first canal in the harbor of Boston would, through the bay of Rhode Island, Long Island Sound, the harbor of New York, reach Brunswick on the Raritan.
From the last-mentioned place, the inland navigation, through Stumpy and Toomer's sounds, is continued until a diminished draught of water, by cutting two low and narrow necks, not exceeding three miles together, to Cape Fear River, thence by an open but short and direct run along the coast is reached that chain of islands between which and the main the inland navigation is continued, to St. Marys along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia, it is unnecessary to add any comments on the utility of the work, in peace or war, for the transportation of merchandise or the conveyance of persons. While Gallatin discussed the details of engineering and costs, including the national benefits to accrue from lowered transportation costs between domestic and international markets, his full $20 million, 10-year plan was never approved; that is not to say his plan was never implemented, for with experience in the War of 1812 shortly thereafter and the attendant British blockade, the continued need for such facility was soon highlighted.
Since Gallatin had based his proposals on the known advantageous natural geographic features of the country, many of his proposals became the locations of navigation improvements that were surveyed and constructed starting with the 1824 General Survey Act and the first of many pieces of rivers and harbors legislation, as well by individual state-built improvements. Since these 1824 acts, the United States Army Corps of Engineers has responsibility for navigation waterway improvements and maintenance. All four proposed sections of Gallatin's intracoastal plan were built. Starting in 1826, Congress authorized the first survey for an inland canal between the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, during early developments, the growth of
Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
Kitty Hawk is a town in Dare County, North Carolina, is a part of what is known as North Carolina's Outer Banks. The population was 3,272 at the 2010 Census, it was established in the early 18th century as Chickahawk. Kitty Hawk became world-famous after the Wright brothers made the first controlled powered airplane flights at Kill Devil Hills, four miles south of the town, on December 17, 1903. After the flights, the brothers walked back to Kitty Hawk, where they sent a telegram from the Weather Bureau office to their father informing him of their success. Kitty Hawk is credited as the site of the powered flights because it was the nearest named settlement at the time of the flight; the Wrights chose the area because its frequent winds and soft sandy surfaces were suitable for their glider experiments, which they conducted over a three-year period prior to making the powered flights. The aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber AV-19 with an aircraft number of 93-1086, P-40D Kitty hawk fighter aircraft, the aircraft transport ship USS Kitty Hawk, the Apollo 14 command module have been named for the town, which incorporated in 1981.
The Kitty Hawk Life-Saving Station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Kitty Hawk is located at 36.1°N 75.7°W / 36.1. According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a complete area of 8.23 square miles. 8.18 square miles of it is land and 0.0476 square miles of it is water. Kitty Hawk is served by U. S. Route Highway 12, which parallel each other in the city. US 158 can be used to go west, while the barrier islands extend south; as of the census of 2000, there were 2,991 people, 1,265 households, 866 families residing in the town. The population density was 365.8 people per square mile. There were 2,618 housing units at an average density of 320.1 per square mile. The racial makeup of the town was 98.13% White, 0.64% African American, 0.23% Native American, 0.27% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 0.20% from other races, 0.50% from two or more races. 0.94 % of the population were Latino of any race. There were 1,265 households out of which 27.9% had youngsters under the age of 18 years living with them, 58.7% were married couples living together, 7.3% had a female householder with no husband present, 31.5% were non-families.
23.8% of all tribes were made up of individuals and 8.0% had someone living alone, 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.79. In the town, the population was spread out with 21.5% under the age of 18, 5.7% from 18 to 24, 31.6% from 25 to 44, 28.3% from 45 to 64, 13.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 girls, there were 103.7 boys. For every 100 girls age 18 and over, there were 97.6 boys. The median income for a household in the town was $42,813, the median income for a family was $48,676. Males had a median income of $31,250 versus $25,744 for females; the per capita income for the town was $22,960. About 4.3% of families and 6.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.9% of people under age 18 and 4.6% of people age 65 or over. Federally, Kitty Hawk is part of North Carolina's 3rd congressional district, represented by Republican Walt Jones, first elected in 1994, until his death on February 10, 2019.
Coulaines in Pays de la Loire, about 1.7 miles north of Le Mans Official website
Pamlico Sound in North Carolina in the US is the largest lagoon along the North American East Coast, extending 80 mi long and 15 to 20 miles wide. It is part of a large, interconnected network of lagoon estuaries that includes Albemarle Sound, Currituck Sound, Croatan Sound, Pamlico Sound, Bogue Sound, Core Sound, Roanoke Sound. Together, these sounds, known as the Albemarle-Pamlico sound system, comprise the second largest estuary in the United States, covering over 3,000 sq. mi. of open water. The Pamlico Sound is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Outer Banks, a row of low, sandy barrier islands that include Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Lookout National Seashore, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge; the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound is one of nineteen great waters recognized by the America's Great Waters Coalition. Pamlico Sound is connected to the north with Albemarle Sound through passages provided by the Roanoke Sound and Croatan Sound. Core Sound is located at the Pamlico's narrow southern end.
It is fed by the Neuse and Pamlico rivers from the west, from the east by Oregon Inlet, Hatteras Inlet, Ocracoke Inlet, which provide passage to the Atlantic Ocean. The salinity of the sound averages 20 ppt, compared to an average coastal salinity of 35 ppt in the Atlantic and 3 ppt in the Currituck Sound, located north of the Albemarle Sound; the sound and its ocean inlets are noted for wide expanses of shallow water and occasional shoaling, making the area hazardous for larger vessels. While the deepest hole of the estuary can be found in the Pamlico Sound, depths range from 5 to 6 feet. In addition, the shallow waters are susceptible to wind and barometric pressure-driven tidal fluctuations; this effect is amplified on the tributary rivers, where water levels can change by as much as two feet in three hours when winds are aligned with the rivers' axes and are blowing strongly. In March 1524, Italian Explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano mistook the sound for the Pacific Ocean because of its wide expanse and separation from the Atlantic Ocean by the Outer Banks barrier islands.
The sound was named for the Pamlico Native American tribe that lived along the sound's mainland banks and who were referred to as the Pamouik by the Raleigh expeditions. Three locations of Pamlico Sound in the Outer Banks between Cape Hatteras and Cape Fear were once under serious consideration by the United States Atomic Energy Commission as an atomic bomb test site during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Portions of Pamlico Sound are used as a training range for Camp Lejeune. In 1987, Congress declared the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound an "estuary of national significance." For vacationers to the Outer Banks, the Pamlico Sound is a "watersports playground" providing opportunities for fishing and crabbing, kayaking, windsurfing, parasailing and more. In 2012, the economic impact of tourism to the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound area exceeded $1.3 billion. The sound supports local commercial fishing, shrimping and oystering. 90% of North Carolina's commercial fishing catches are attributed to the Pamlico Sound, generating $100 million per year.
Along the coastal areas are numerous waterfowl nesting sites, including Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on the Outer Banks, Swanquarter National Wildlife Refuge on the mainland. Dolphins and sea turtles are abundant, with occasional visits by seals such as harp seal in early January and February. Many other cetaceans including rare species such as fin whales, Cuvier's beaked whales, orcas are present off Outer Banks and Cape Hatteras. Whales such as Atlantic gray, North Atlantic right, North Atlantic humpback were common. Endangered species such as leatherback turtles, great white sharks, basking sharks are known to visit the sound as well; the sound sports a variety of fish populations including red drum, speckled trout, striped bass, spot, pompano and bluefish. In addition, shellfish populations including blue crab, shrimp and clams are healthy. U. S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Pamlico Sound Pamlico Sound Boating
Virginia the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" due to its status as the first English colonial possession established in mainland North America and "Mother of Presidents" because eight U. S. presidents were born there, more than any other state. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna; the capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond. The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2018 is over 8.5 million. The area's history begins with several indigenous groups, including the Powhatan. In 1607 the London Company established the Colony of Virginia as the first permanent New World English colony. Slave labor and the land acquired from displaced Native American tribes each played a significant role in the colony's early politics and plantation economy.
Virginia was one of the 13 Colonies in the American Revolution. In the American Civil War, Virginia's Secession Convention resolved to join the Confederacy, Virginia's First Wheeling Convention resolved to remain in the Union. Although the Commonwealth was under one-party rule for nearly a century following Reconstruction, both major national parties are competitive in modern Virginia; the Virginia General Assembly is the oldest continuous law-making body in the New World. The state government was ranked most effective by the Pew Center on the States in both 2005 and 2008, it is unique in how it treats cities and counties manages local roads, prohibits its governors from serving consecutive terms. Virginia's economy has many sectors: agriculture in the Shenandoah Valley. S. Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency. Virginia has a total area of 42,774.2 square miles, including 3,180.13 square miles of water, making it the 35th-largest state by area. Virginia is bordered by Maryland and Washington, D.
C. to the north and east. Virginia's boundary with Maryland and Washington, D. C. extends to the low-water mark of the south shore of the Potomac River. The southern border is defined as the 36° 30′ parallel north, though surveyor error led to deviations of as much as three arcminutes; the border with Tennessee was not settled until 1893, when their dispute was brought to the U. S. Supreme Court; the Chesapeake Bay separates the contiguous portion of the Commonwealth from the two-county peninsula of Virginia's Eastern Shore. The bay was formed from the drowned river valleys of the James River. Many of Virginia's rivers flow into the Chesapeake Bay, including the Potomac, Rappahannock and James, which create three peninsulas in the bay; the Tidewater is a coastal plain between the fall line. It includes major estuaries of Chesapeake Bay; the Piedmont is a series of sedimentary and igneous rock-based foothills east of the mountains which were formed in the Mesozoic era. The region, known for its heavy clay soil, includes the Southwest Mountains around Charlottesville.
The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province of the Appalachian Mountains with the highest points in the state, the tallest being Mount Rogers at 5,729 feet. The Ridge and Valley region includes the Great Appalachian Valley; the region includes Massanutten Mountain. The Cumberland Plateau and the Cumberland Mountains are in the southwest corner of Virginia, south of the Allegheny Plateau. In this region, rivers flow northwest, into the Ohio River basin; the Virginia Seismic Zone has not had a history of regular earthquake activity. Earthquakes are above 4.5 in magnitude, because Virginia is located away from the edges of the North American Plate. The largest earthquake, at an estimated 5.9 magnitude, was in 1897 near Blacksburg. A 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Virginia on August 2011, near Mineral. The earthquake was felt as far away as Toronto and Florida. 35 million years ago, a bolide impacted. The resulting Chesapeake Bay impact crater may explain what earthquakes and subsidence the region does experience.
Coal mining takes place in the three mountainous regions at 45 distinct coal beds near Mesozoic basins. Over 64 million tons of other non-fuel resources, such as slate, sand, or gravel, were mined in Virginia in 2018; the state's carbonate rock is filled with more than 4,000 caves, ten of which are open for tourism, including the popular Luray Caverns and Skyline Caverns. The climate of Virginia is humid subtropical and becomes warmer and more humid farther south and east. Seasonal extremes vary from average lows of 26 °F in January to average highs of 86 °F in July; the Atlantic Ocean has a strong effect on southeastern coastal areas of the state. Influenced by the Gulf Stream, coastal weather is subject to hurricanes, most pronouncedly near the mouth of Chesapeake Bay. In spite of its position adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean the coastal areas have a significant continental influence with quite large temperature differences between summ
A beach is a landform alongside a body of water which consists of loose particles. The particles composing a beach are made from rock, such as sand, shingle, pebbles; the particles can be biological in origin, such as mollusc shells or coralline algae. Some beaches have man-made infrastructure, such as lifeguard posts, changing rooms, showers and bars, they may have hospitality venues nearby. Wild beaches known as undeveloped or undiscovered beaches, are not developed in this manner. Wild beaches can be preserved nature. Beaches occur in areas along the coast where wave or current action deposits and reworks sediments. Although the seashore is most associated with the word beach, beaches are found by lakes and alongside large rivers. Beach may refer to: small systems where rock material moves onshore, offshore, or alongshore by the forces of waves and currents; the former are described in detail below. There are several conspicuous parts to a beach that relate to the processes that shape it; the part above water, more or less influenced by the waves at some point in the tide, is termed the beach berm.
The berm is the deposit of material comprising the active shoreline. The berm has a crest and a face—the latter being the slope leading down towards the water from the crest. At the bottom of the face, there may be a trough, further seaward one or more long shore bars: raised, underwater embankments formed where the waves first start to break; the sand deposit may extend well inland from the berm crest, where there may be evidence of one or more older crests resulting from large storm waves and beyond the influence of the normal waves. At some point the influence of the waves on the material comprising the beach stops, if the particles are small enough, winds shape the feature. Where wind is the force distributing the grains inland, the deposit behind the beach becomes a dune; these geomorphic features compose. The beach profile changes seasonally due to the change in wave energy experienced during summer and winter months. In temperate areas where summer is characterised by calmer seas and longer periods between breaking wave crests, the beach profile is higher in summer.
The gentle wave action during this season tends to transport sediment up the beach towards the berm where it is deposited and remains while the water recedes. Onshore winds carry it further inland enhancing dunes. Conversely, the beach profile is lower in the storm season due to the increased wave energy, the shorter periods between breaking wave crests. Higher energy waves breaking in quick succession tend to mobilise sediment from the shallows, keeping it in suspension where it is prone to be carried along the beach by longshore currents, or carried out to sea to form longshore bars if the longshore current meets an outflow from a river or flooding stream; the removal of sediment from the beach berm and dune thus decreases the beach profile. In tropical areas, the storm season tends to be during the summer months, with calmer weather associated with the winter season. If storms coincide with unusually high tides, or with a freak wave event such as a tidal surge or tsunami which causes significant coastal flooding, substantial quantities of material may be eroded from the coastal plain or dunes behind the berm by receding water.
This flow may alter the shape of the coastline, enlarge the mouths of rivers and create new deltas at the mouths of streams that had not been powerful enough to overcome longshore movement of sediment. The line between beach and dune is difficult to define in the field. Over any significant period of time, sediment is always being exchanged between them; the drift line is one potential demarcation. This would be the point at which significant wind movement of sand could occur, since the normal waves do not wet the sand beyond this area. However, the drift line is to move inland under assault by storm waves; the development of the beach as a popular leisure resort from the mid-19th century was the first manifestation of what is now the global tourist industry. The first seaside resorts were opened in the 18th century for the aristocracy, who began to frequent the seaside as well as the fashionable spa towns, for recreation and health. One of the earliest such seaside resorts, was Scarborough in Yorkshire during the 1720s.
The first rolling bathing machines were introduced by 1735. The opening of the resort in Brighton and its reception of royal patronage from King George IV, extended the seaside as a resort for health and pleasure to the much larger London market, the beach became a centre for upper-class pleasure and frivolity; this trend was praised and artistically elevated by the new romantic ideal of the picturesque landscape. Queen Victoria's long-standing patronage of the Isle of Wight and Ramsgate in Kent ensured that a seaside residence was considered as a fashionable possession for those wealthy enough to afford more than one home; the extension of this form of leisure to the middle and working classes began with the development of the railways in the 1840s, which offered cheap fares to fast
A coral reef is an underwater ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Reefs are formed of colonies of coral polyps held together by calcium carbonate. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals. Coral belongs to the class Anthozoa in the animal phylum Cnidaria, which includes sea anemones and jellyfish. Unlike sea anemones, corals secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons that protect the coral. Most reefs grow best in warm, clear and agitated water. Called "rainforests of the sea", shallow coral reefs form some of Earth's most diverse ecosystems, they occupy less than 0.1% of the world's ocean area, about half the area of France, yet they provide a home for at least 25% of all marine species, including fish, worms, echinoderms, sponges and other cnidarians. Coral reefs flourish in ocean waters, they are most found at shallow depths in tropical waters, but deep water and cold water coral reefs exist on smaller scales in other areas. Coral reefs deliver ecosystem services for tourism and shoreline protection.
The annual global economic value of coral reefs is estimated between US$30–375 billion and 9.9 trillion USD. Coral reefs are fragile because they are sensitive to water conditions, they are under threat from excess nutrients, rising temperatures, oceanic acidification, sunscreen use, harmful land-use practices, including runoff and seeps. Most coral reefs were formed after the last glacial period when melting ice caused sea level to rise and flood continental shelves. Most coral reefs are less than 10,000 years old; as communities established themselves, the reefs grew pacing rising sea levels. Reefs that rose too could become drowned, without sufficient light. Coral reefs are found in the deep sea away from continental shelves, around oceanic islands and atolls; the majority of these islands are volcanic in origin. Others have tectonic origins. In The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, Charles Darwin set out his theory of the formation of atoll reefs, an idea he conceived during the voyage of the Beagle.
He theorized that subsidence of the Earth's crust under the oceans formed the atolls. Darwin set out a sequence of three stages in atoll formation. A fringing reef forms around an extinct volcanic island as the ocean floor subsides; as the subsidence continues, the fringing reef becomes a barrier reef and an atoll reef. Darwin predicted that underneath each lagoon would be a bedrock base, the remains of the original volcano. Subsequent research supported this hypothesis. Darwin's theory followed from his understanding that coral polyps thrive in the tropics where the water is agitated, but can only live within a limited depth range, starting just below low tide. Where the level of the underlying earth allows, the corals grow around the coast to form fringing reefs, can grow to become a barrier reef. Where the bottom is rising, fringing reefs can grow around the coast, but coral raised above sea level dies. If the land subsides the fringing reefs keep pace by growing upwards on a base of older, dead coral, forming a barrier reef enclosing a lagoon between the reef and the land.
A barrier reef can encircle an island, once the island sinks below sea level a circular atoll of growing coral continues to keep up with the sea level, forming a central lagoon. Barrier reefs and atolls do not form complete circles, but are broken in places by storms. Like sea level rise, a subsiding bottom can overwhelm coral growth, killing the coral and the reef, due to what is called coral drowning. Corals that rely on zooxanthellae can die when the water becomes too deep for their symbionts to adequately photosynthesize, due to decreased light exposure; the two main variables determining the geomorphology, or shape, of coral reefs are the nature of the substrate on which they rest, the history of the change in sea level relative to that substrate. The 20,000-year-old Great Barrier Reef offers an example of how coral reefs formed on continental shelves. Sea level was 120 m lower than in the 21st century; as sea level rose, the water and the corals encroached on what had been hills of the Australian coastal plain.
By 13,000 years ago, sea level had risen to 60 m lower than at present, many hills of the coastal plains had become continental islands. As sea level rise continued, water topped most of the continental islands; the corals could overgrow the hills, forming cays and reefs. Sea level on the Great Barrier Reef has not changed in the last 6,000 years; the age of living reef structure is estimated to be between 8,000 years. Although the Great Barrier Reef formed along a continental shelf, not around a volcanic island, Darwin's principles apply. Development stopped at the barrier reef stage, it formed 300 -- 1,000 m from shore, stretching for 2,000 km. Healthy tropical coral reefs grow horizontally from 1 to 3 cm per year, grow vertically anywhere from 1 to 25 cm per year; as the name implies, coral reefs are made up of coral skeletons from intact coral colonies. As other chemical elements present in corals become incorporated into the calcium carbonate deposits, aragonite is formed. However
Cape Hatteras is a thin, broken strand of islands in North Carolina that arch out into the Atlantic Ocean away from the US mainland 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 sea. Long stretches of beach, sand dunes 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 the nearest landmass on the US mainland to Bermuda, about 563 nautical miles 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 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.
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, Ocracoke Island. Beach and sound access ramps, nature trails, lighthouses can be found and explored on all three islands; 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, is home to the governmental offices and schools for the Island. 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. The cape's shoals are known as Diamond Shoals. Cape Hatteras has a humid subtropical climate, with long hot summers, short cool winters. Most of the area falls into USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 9. 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. The cape is the northern limit of tropical fauna. During the summer, average daily highs are in the 85 °F range, occasional intense thundershowers occur; as a result of its proximity to water, temperatures above 90 °F are rare, with an average of only 2.3 days annually above 90 °F. The coolest month, has a daily high of 52 °F, with lows well above freezing; the average window for freezing temperatures is from December 12 to March 11, between which there is an average of 21 nights with lows at or below the freezing mark. Extremes in temperature range from 6 °F on January 21, 1985 up to 97 °F on June 27, 1952. Snowfall is observed only and very light. Precipitation in the form of rain, is over 58 inches per year, making it the wettest coastal location in North Carolina. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year; however and May represent a drier season, while August to October are the wettest months.
On average, August is the wettest month, owing to high frequencies of both summer thunderstorms and tropical systems that affect the area from August to early October. Due to its exposed position, Cape Hatteras is 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 near or over North Carolina's Outer Banks, while other areas experience much less, minimal or no damage; the Cape Hatteras area is infamous for being struck by hurricanes that move up the East Coast of the United States. The strike of Hurricane Isabel in 2003 was devastating for the area. Isabel devastated the entire Outer Banks and 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 and water lines were rebuilt when the inlet was filled. 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 applied to the island and cape as well, modified to "Hatteras." Hatteras is the name of the Hatteras Indians. 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 well known for surfing. The first lighthouse at the cape was built in 1803.