TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Some of Florida’s most notorious sandy beaches from Miami to the Georgia line are expected to face at least some level of erosion thanks in part to Tropical Storm Nicole’s impact on the state’s east coast, a report from the United States Geological Survey said.
USGS coastal change experts are forecasting Nicole’s waves and surge will likely cause 81% of the dunes along Florida’s east coast from Miami to the Georgia line to endure at least some level of erosion.
Along the state’s west coast, 42% of the dunes from Bonita Beach to Anclote Key and from Panacea to Mexico Beach are expected to experience some erosion. As of Wednesday afternoon, Florida residents began to share pictures and videos of erosion damage across social media, including a video of one beach-side building which appeared to be partially washed away from rising waters.
USGS says a more serious type of beach erosion is also possible — overwash. This happens when water levels reach higher than the top of dunes.
When a beach is overwashed, sand can be pushed and deposited inland, blocking roadways and causing significant changes to coastal landscapes. Overwash can also reduce the height of protective sand dunes and leave areas behind the dunes more vulnerable to future storms.
About 10% of Florida’s dunes along sandy beaches from Bonita Beach to Anclote Key and from Panacea to Mexico Beach could be overwashed, USGS said. On Florida’s east coast from Miami to the Georgia state line, 11% of the dunes are forecast to be overwashed.
“We know Ian caused significant coastal change and likely made the coasts more vulnerable. But, we don’t have updated measurements on how much Ian lowered dune heights so the coastal change Nicole causes may be more significant than what we forecast,” said Kara Doran, a USGS oceanographer and leader of the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Storm Team.
The National Hurricane Center currently forecasts Nicole to make landfall in Florida Wednesday evening as a hurricane. The NHC is also warning of potentially dangerous storm surge along parts of Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic coasts and portions of coastal Georgia.
Those in the storm’s projected path can visit Ready.gov for tips on creating emergency plans and putting together an emergency supply kit.
For the latest information on Nicole, click here.