Since I write my column days in advance of printing, it is probably 75 degrees and sunny outside when you’re reading this, but how about that cold snap around Jan. 20?
For many of you transplants from up north, you were probably wearing shorts and a T-shirt during those three days but for this Southern boy, I had so many layers of clothing on I looked like the Michelin Man.
Looking back at past January columns, I have a tendency to rant and rave about how much I hate the cold, so this time around, I’ll try to be a bit more up-beat. For the most part, we are pretty darn lucky to have a winter that lasts all of two months, specifically January and February.
But do you know that since I have lived here, the January cold snap paled in comparison to a few of the weather events I have witnessed in the Lowcountry over my 60-something years living here? Let me tell you about one of these past weather events so that you’ll know that anything is possible if the conditions are just right.
I know we had a few snow flurries on Christmas day in 2012, but back in 1989 we had a white Christmas that was one for the record books. In a 24-hour period it snowed 12 inches on Christmas Eve!
If I had time to crawl up into the attic where my photo albums are stored, I would have grabbed a couple of photos to show you from that day. It snowed so much so fast while the tide was low that the beach on Hilton Head was a foot thick all the way to the edge of the water! It was bizarre looking.
You know how the Chamber of Commerce describes “Wide beaches with sugary sand as white as snow”? In this case, the beach was just that.
Also, because there weren’t quite as many folks around back then, there wasn’t a footprint to be seen in the snow, making the scene even more surreal.
Another aspect of that blizzard that stands out in my memory was the palmettos draped in thick layers of snow. It was breath taking!
As you probably have guessed, I was a wild man back in my younger years. I was living in Hilton Head Plantation; my kids were young, and my fishing mobile was a blue Suzuki Samurai with the floorboards rusted out, so you could see the road zoom by under your feet — kind of a Fred Flintstone car.
Anyway, the snow began to melt pretty quickly but that night it froze again, turning the melted snow to ice. The next morning there were still a few patches of snow along the icy roads and – snow or no snow – I just had to take my kids sledding for the first time.
Since there were no hills around, I nabbed a large sheet of plywood, curled up the front a bit so it looked like a sled, and tied a rope to it so I could pull it behind my 4-wheel-drive vehicle.
By the time I had finished making it, the roads were 95% ice with a thin layer of snow on top. Much to the chagrin of my wife, all the neighborhood kids wanted to get on board and, being the responsible parent that I was, my theory was “the more the merrier.”
Loaded down with kids, I took off slipping and sliding down the street with the kids howling with glee. At some point that howling sort of changed to screaming, and I took that to mean “Go faster,” which is exactly what I did.
Looking in my rear-view mirror, I saw what looked like smoke and figured it was simply the car’s exhaust in the cold air. It was only when the screaming reached a fevered pitch and one kid appeared to jump off the board and roll down the road that I deduced that something was wrong.
The friction of the board on that ice was so great it caught the board on fire! I can laugh about it now, but neither my wife nor the neighbors would talk to me for weeks. Ah, the good old days.
Other weather events included an 8-inch snowfall in the ’60s, a spring hurricane in the early ’90s and again in the ’80s, when 24 inches of rain fell in a two-day period.
I wish I had more space to tell you about some of these weather-related phenomena but that will just have to wait for some other time. Right now, I want to tell you about something I have up my sleeve, should there be enough interest.
February is the perfect time for me to resurrect my two-part “How to Fish the Lowcountry” seminars. Should I find a convenient space to hold them, I will limit the seminars to 15 or 20 attendees, allowing for more one-on-one time, answering questions, or showing folks how to rig for different species.
My plan is to cover every aspect of fishing our area. The primary emphasis will be on inshore fishing, but near-shore and offshore will also be covered. Bait and rigging for different species, the importance of tides, navigation and boat handling, throwing cast nets plus a lot of one-on-one instruction. I will also answer any and all questions.
If you are interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Collins Doughtie, a 60-year resident of the Lowcountry, is a sportsman, graphic artist, and lover of nature. email@example.com