Workers moving sand on the beach on the south end of Kitty Hawk by Black Pelican Restaruant.

After a few weeks of rough seas and high surf, the Outer Banks beach nourishment project is back on track and about to finish up.

Saving, perhaps, the area most in need of nourishment for last, the beach in Kitty Hawk is getting a makeover…and the makeover is creating a wider beach than anyone has seen in decades.

The beach in front of the Black Pelican to about 200 yards north has been known as a hotspot for ocean overwash and flooding for some time. Although every area of the Kitty Hawk oceanfront is susceptible to overwash, the force of the ocean around Black Pelican has been noticeably more focused with increasingly frequent overwash and damage to the Beach Road since Hurricane Sandy passed offshore in 2012.

With a much wider beach and a slope engineered to dissipate the force of the waves, the oceanfront should be protected for the next six to seven years. 

It is important to understand that beach nourishment is done for shoreline and infrastructure protection. The wider, better beach is a happy consequence of that, but over time a significant portion of sand will return to the ocean and form an offshore sandbar. That sandbar is the first line of defense in dissipating the energy in the waves.

Over time, as more sand returns to the ocean, the nourishment project must be repeated. Generally every six to seven years.

After the project is finished, NCDOT is required to remove the sandbags installed over the past few years to protect the Beach Road. A schedule for that process has not yet been posted.