Erosion not severe
Special to Palm Beach Daily News
USA TODAY NETWORK
Hurricane Nicole left her mark on the island's beaches when she blazed across Florida last week, chipping away at recently completed nourishment projects and pushing sand back toward the seawall in some places, but overall not causing enough damage to merit emergency action. That's according to a report based on initial surveys conducted by Palm Beach staff and prepared by Robert Weber, coastal program manager for the town.
"The impacts from this storm, which just barely reached hurricane strength, was more impactful in many areas when compared to some major hurricanes that have passed in our general vicinity over the past few years," Weber said Monday. "This is another reminder that there are many factors that go into how impacts are caused by a storm," he noted, reminding residents not to focus only on the category or wind speed.
With seas calmer this week, Weber said the town's physical monitoring consultant Terraquatic Inc. will conduct a more thorough review. The Army Corps of Engineers and Florida Department of Environmental Protection also will have staff on the island this week to survey damage, he said in his report.
The good news: The town's beaches and dunes served as buffers to any potential damage to inhabited properties. Many of those dunes were pushed by the combination of rising tides, massive waves and storm surge back toward the seawall, with sand accumulating on wooden steps and walkways from the beach to private properties in some places.
Palm Beach County was spared the shoreline structural losses suffered by counties to the north, including Volusia, where some homes had the sand sucked right out from underneath them, and more than a dozen condominiums were evacuated until their structural integrity could be ensured by inspectors.
Still, the shoreline initially was pushed back 20 to 40 feet in some places along the town's coast, a number Weber said is consistent with other areas of Palm Beach County. In some places, that movement took sand from the dry beach into the nearshore, the region of the ocean from the shoreline to just beyond where waves break.
While some sand was lost, there is hope in that cusps ? arc formations of sand pointing toward the ocean ? are forming, "which is a good reflection of there being sufficient sand in the system out in the water to allow the beaches the best opportunity to naturally recover," Weber said.
In several places from the North End to the south, water ran up and over berms and into dunes or along seawalls, including at Midtown Beach and south of Banyan Road. On the South End of the town, a sand stockpile near the Par 3 Golf Course that was going to be used for dune restoration on the south end of town was swept away.
Two recent nourishment projects ? at Midtown Beach and Phipps Ocean Park Beach ? were affected by Nicole. The losses likely will warrant relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Weber wrote.
Crews tracked debris lines along both the ocean and the Lake Worth Lagoon. On the ocean side, the lines showed that water rose across the berm and into some private properties between Banyan Road and Southern Boulevard, the report said.
Nicole's pounding waves also washed away wooden dune overwalks at some public beach access points, including El Pueblo Way, La Puerta Way, Palmo Way and Ocean Lane.
Weber expects to have an update this week following additional staff and agency surveys.
Image Source: DAMON HIGGINS/THE PALM BEACH DAILY NEWS
Copyright (c) 2022 Palm Beach Daily News, Edition 11/15/2022
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