Isabel Could Cause Beach Erosion - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports


Isabel Could Cause Beach Erosion

Hurricane Isabel continues to make her turn to the north, and all signs point to a complete miss for the Coastal Empire and Low Country. But that doesn't mean we won't notice any differences. There will probably be a lot of wind and some bigger waves than we're used to seeing, and we'll also see some erosion, but Hilton Head Island officials aren't too concerned.

In the late '90s, Hilton Head wrapped up its last beach renourishment program. As deputy town manager Chuck Hoelle put it, "We borrow time from Mother Nature." And they're fully expecting it to help if a hurricane hits this year. "We go out to the shoals, we get some sand and we put it on the beach and that dampens the erosion that the storm can create."

Even though Hurricane Isabel appears to be sliding past us, we'll still see some effects but they'd be different from if she'd gone the other way. Hilton Head Island officials say the simple fact that Isabel may hit north of the island instead of south could do a lot to save the beaches.

"As most folks know, a hurricane flows counterclockwise, so we'll be on the backside," explained Hoelle. "We'll still get waves and we can still expect some beach erosion."

But even with strong beaches that have had dunes formed to back them up, some people know what can happen with a direct hit. Like Kevin Leonard, a North Carolina firefighter who dealt with Floyd. "It's got a lot of damage to houses, a lot of roofs down," he said. "As far as the piers, a lot of sand washed away and just a lot of inland damage, too."

The beaches on Hilton Head are about to get another dose of renourishment, which should help protect the island in future hurricane seasons. The town hopes to get started next September, but may have to hold back until 2005.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite,

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