It’s not every day a 10’ swath of sand gets washed out to sea, but heavy seas, a longer than normal high tide, wind and a lot of rain managed to do just that on the Nags Head beach.
Just north of Jennette’s Pier the sand has been scoured from the dune, leaving behind a 10’ high escarpment. As it runs to the north, the cliff face does lower, and after about 200 yards there isn’t anything left of it.
The official name for it is an “erosional arc.” The most likely cause for it is a gap in the protective sandbar that normally lies offshore. Without the sandbar to protect the beach, the surf rolls in with more power than usual. Coupled with the remarkably heavy rains over the past four days and high surf conditions, the carving out of the beach was probably inevitable.
Over time experts on beach dynamics, expect the escarpment to smooth out and become a part of the beach again. It is sand, so that seems like the most likely scenario.
A benefit from this may be to surfers. There is a very good possibility the sand from the beach will form a new sandbar north of Jennette’s Pier. if that is the case, the next time there is a good swell, there may be a very surfable break there.
Nags Head beaches are scheduled to be renourished next year.