Kitty Hawk beach nourisment construction, Friday, September 8. Project constrution is on hold until surf conditions imporve.

Hurricane Irma Waves Will Test Beach Nourishment

The Dare County beach nourishment project is nearing completion. According to project managers, there is about one mile of beach left in Kitty Hawk to nourish.

It may be just in time, too. 

It looks like the first big test for the project will be coming early this week when waves generated in Florida by Hurricane Irma reach the Outer Banks.

Even today, Saturday, the ocean is pounding the coast with 4-6’ waves. There’s a strong northeast wind blowing the top off the waves, churning up the seas, making the waters look more ominous than they are.

That northeast wind though, is part of the trough that is diving to the south, forming the meteorological ridge pushing Irma to the west coast of Florida.

The system is so massive, however, that the hurricane force winds cover the entire Florida Peninsula and the waves created by the storm will be at full force on the Outer Banks most of Monday.

The northern Outer Banks are looking at 9’ seas; some projections have waves at the south facing shoreline of Frisco and Ocracoke over 15’.

It will be interesting to see how the nourished beaches handle the onslaught from the ocean. There will be some loss of sand, but that is by design. The sand that the waves take back to the surf zone, will form a sandbar, creating the first line of defense for the homes and infrastructure along the shore.

It’s important to remember that beach nourishment is a shoreline protection strategy. A happy consequence of that is a better quality beach, but protection of of the shoreline is the reason a beach is nourished.

Coming on the heels of Irma, we should see some waves action from Hurricane Jose at week’s end. Jose is far out to sea and there is near universal agreement that it will create no threat to land.