At the end of last month into the start of October, when the wind started whipping and the rain started falling from the remnants of Hurricane Ian, beaches up and down the New Jersey coast suffered significant erosion.

According to Stewart Farrell, the director and founder of the Stockton University Coastal Research Center, 35-mile-an-hour winds with gusts as high as 55 mph battered the beaches for at least 4 high tides.

“That gave the ocean time to work its erosional magic on the beaches of coastal New Jersey,” he said. “The worse impacts we saw were at the very Northeast corner of each of the barrier islands near the inlets.”

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What exactly happened?

“The erosion occurs on the upper beach. The dry beach erodes away, the sand actually goes offshore and if it’s a sufficiently narrow beach, it starts attacking the dunes," he said.

“There was a lot of beach erosion, beaches got flat, essentially the slope on the beach becomes much flatter, and the sand removed is hauled offshore and moved South if it’s a Northeast storm.”

Farrell said this took away most of the sand accumulated during the summer.

“There isn’t a whole lot of time for it to reestablish itself until the Northeast storm season really begins in earnest, and there still could be another hurricane.”

Beach replenishment needed

He noted the Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction over every developed mile of New Jersey shoreline and they are in charge of beach replenishment projects.

“They will be out there doing the ones already in planning stages coming this fall and winter,” he said.

As to whether the beach erosion caused by the remnants of Ian will adversely impact next year’s Jersey Shore summer season, he said it will depend on how many nor’easter-type storms batter the coast in the coming months.

“Right now it’s pure speculation, I mean it depends really on the frequency of storms and or the intensity of individual Northeast storms.”

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He pointed out that if we get a couple of nor’easters only a few weeks apart, or if there’s a very strong storm, there will be significant additional erosion.

“Usually the nor’easters start in late November, early December into January, February and March, that’s where the frequency and intensity matters,” said Farrell.

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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