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Warm Winter Weather Brings Some Unusual Sightings in Outer Banks

Warm winter weather brings some unusual sightings, for now

By on January 1, 2016

Goodbye, turtles.

December’s warm weather brought some unusual sightings for this time of year, but don’t expect the land turtles, frogs and other ectotherms to stay above ground much longer.

“It really does affect cold-blooded animals,” said Allen Boynton, referring to the recent unseasonably warm weather.

Boynton, a wildlife diversity coordinator with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, added that the term “cold-blooded” isn’t accurate, but people use it to refer to ectotherms, or animals that depend on the outside environment to control their internal temperatures.

Snakes, turtles, butterflies and bats have been spotted in recent weeks, which is uncommon for the winter months.

“The turtles are active right now, but it’s supposed to turn cold this weekend,” Boynton said. “You won’t be seeing any turtles when cold weather hits.”

That may begin next week, when the weekend’s temperatures, predicted to be in the 50s, will drop to the 40s by Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Although the warm weather has painted the landscape with spring-like hues, it may mean fewer blooms this spring, Currituck County Extension agent Tommy Grandy said.

“What’s bloomed now probably won’t bloom in the spring,” Grandy said. “This long period of warm weather has got things kind of mixed up.”

He has a forsythia bush covered with yellow blossoms now, he said, and although there may be some blooms in the spring, there likely won’t be as many as usual.

Fortunately, the warm spell hasn’t affected fruit trees and shrubs, such as peaches and blueberries. Unless there’s a rapid turn-around, with temperatures dropping into the teens, most plants should be fine, Grandy added.

Most plants need a dormant period, brought on by several weeks of cold weather, which he believes is ahead. “I feel like we’re going to have a late winter,” he said, adding that we’ll miss these warm days when the snow and ice arrive.

The warm weather has been especially nice for charter boat Capt. Greg Mayer, who said he spent Thursday in the Gulf Stream, where the water was 72 degrees and he was wearing a T-shirt.

“It’s been a lot more pleasant going out,” he said. “It’s not freezing cold.” The unseasonable temperatures seem to have brought more visitors to the area recently, he added, which has meant more reservations for upcoming fishing trips.

“We’re having more calls, that we normally don’t see this time of year,” he said. “As long as the weather is pretty it will help us out. Normally this time of year we don’t have many customers.”

Highs Friday were in the 50s, with lows in the 40s. The forecast for Saturday is sunny and breezy with highs in the lower 50s, with lows Saturday night in the lower 40s, according to the National Weather Service.

Monday, the temperature should hover around 50, but drop into the upper 30s Monday evening.


By on January 1, 2016

The Outer Banks Voice

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