Watts Up With That?

Guest post by Ric Werme

This week marks the 50th anniversary of a destructive nor’easter named “The Great Atlantic Storm of 1962” by the NWS and just “The Ash Wednesday Storm” by others. I lived in Ohio at the time, but my grandparents owned a summer house on Long Beach Island, a barrier island in New Jersey that faces the Atlantic Ocean. So, it’s a good time to talk about nor’easters in general and one little spot in particular.

Barrier Islands

To a geologist, a barrier island is an ephemeral structure. They exist thanks to waves and tide bringing sand onto a sand bar creating a barrier between ocean and bay. Onshore winds blow sand toward the bay side and also build up dunes above the beach. Big storms erode both the beach and dunes. Eventually the island moves towards the land, and offshore erosion and rivers brings sand back…

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