After the Storm: Beach Erosion

Cape May, NJ – The morning after the latest winter Nor’easter, something definitely was missing on Cove Beach.    The Valentine’s Nor’easter had eroded enough sand to reveal a two-plus foot drop off  on Cove Beach and cause more subtle changes elsewhere on  Cape May’s beachfront.

The Nor’easter, which dumped freezing rain and snow inland and more than an inch of rain here on the coast, had strong winds well in excess of 40 and perhaps 50 miles per hour from the east and northeast. The winds lasted for hours.

The results were immense waves that crashed onto the beach, churning up sand for miles along the coast. Each wave took bites of sand from the beach and turned them into a slurry that quickly ran down the beach and away.

After the storm, in places where the sand had covered the jetties and rock piles, like the 2nd Avenue jetty, more rocks were visible.  At one time in the not so distant past, all of that jetty, pictured above, was covered with sand.

Farther up the beach, it seemed like the beach was narrower and steeper, with the high tide coming closer to the storm fencing. The beach erosion came at the end of a long month of winter storms and freezing weather.

Although we are used to coastal storms in Cape May, it seems like the frequency of storms this past winter is increasing.  With that increase, the the beaches at the Cove and elsewhere could be subjected to renewed batterings.

Case in point: within two days of our Valentine’s storm, another nor’easter streaked up the East Coast.  That storm did us no harm, but from Cape Cod through northern New England, there were  50+ mile per hour winds, as well as snow and ice.

Lucky for Cape May, that second storm bypassed us, and our beaches, this time.

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About Paul Kerlinger

Paul Kerlinger, Ph.D. is a scientist, author and nationally known expert on bird migration. He's done extensive studies on hawks, Snowy Owls and neotropical song birds. Kerlinger is the former director of the Cape May Bird Observatory, His books include How Birds Migrate and Flight Strategies of Migrating Hawks. He's an ardent fly fisherman and organic vegetable gardener.