Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fort Pierce Beach Renourishment + Sucky Weather

Fort Pierce inlet, which cuts through the barrier island I live on, wasn't always there. People dug it in 1920 to replace "Indian River Inlet", a nearby natural inlet that had closed over. I'm not sure why they put the man-made inlet 1 mile south of the previous, natural one. Maybe to be closer to downtown Fort Pierce.

Anyway, when they dug the inlet, they put jetties on the North and South side to help stabilize it. The jetties do an ok job of maintaining the inlet, but they screw up the beach on the South side. Since sand tends to drift from North to South in this area, the beach North of the Jetty accumulates sand, while the beach to the South is constantly eaten away, threatening to erode naively-placed shoreline developments.

The upshot is that the county has to spend lots of tax money to periodically replace the lost sand on South Beach. They manage to kill two birds with one stone, though, by doing the job with sand removed by dredging the inlet (see video).

Once they have the piles of sand on the beach, they bulldoze them around to get the beach looking smooth, flat and aesthetically pleasing. It's pretty impressive from an engineering standpoint, and pretty dubious from an environmental standpoint.


I'm not sure whether it has affected the windsurfing or not, since lately the wind has been sucky, the rain has been frequent, and/or I've been busy. So far this month I've only managed to get two days of shortboarding in 15 or more knots, compared to April where there were 8, and March with 14. When there is wind, it's usually brief and accompanied by rain squalls and thunder and lightning. I think it has to do with the subtropical low-pressure system that has been malingering around here. Clyde from the East Central Florida Windsurfing group sent out this cool satellite image link that shows the nastyness of the Florida weather. Should be interesting viewing during the more serious part of hurricane season.

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