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North Shore Beaches Expected To Rebound From Winter Erosion

By Todd Gutner, WBZ Meteorologist
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SALISBURY (CBS) — The heat is on and that means the minds of New Englanders turn to thoughts of hitting the beach.

But after a truly horrible winter, what can we expect?

North Shore beaches were clobbered during the harsh winter. A remarkable amount of sand was lost, but the beaches are coming back, after a lot of hard work.

It was one for the record books. The beach damage started in October with Superstorm Sandy, got worse with the February blizzard, and when the March Nor’easter barreled ashore, many of our beautiful beaches just weren’t the same.

“If you look out here right now, probably at least 8- to -10 feet of sand was lost,” says Tom Kehoe about Singing Beach in Manchester By The Sea.

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano reports

That beach was hard hit by erosion and the seawall was seriously damaged. It was a similar situation at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester.

“We’ve lost probably about 2- or- 3 feet of sand off the beach,” said Phil Curcuro, who is repairing a bridge that leads to the beach. “We lost 50 feet off this bridge. The waves were coming over the top of the bridge, and coming right across the road,” he says.

At Rockport’s Long Beach, several sets of wooden stairs were casualties. The town is just finishing replacing them.

Plum Island Beach fared better than some homes there, but lost a lot of sand. And the story repeats up and down the coast.

“This past winter season has been particularly damaging to our beaches,” says Julia Knisel, a shoreline expert at the state’s Office of Coastal Zone Management. She says expect less beach this summer. “High tide, you’re going to be pushed up against the seawalls and dunes. You’re going to be closer to your friends and neighbors,” she adds.

That’s the way it is on Singing Beach.

“When the tide comes in there’s hardly any, if any beach here,” says Tom Kehoe, a town selectman and deputy director of emergency management.

Matt Casparius, director of parks and recreation, says a depth of about 15 feet of sand was washed away starting with the blizzard in February, and an additional storm in March.  He says beachgoers should check tide charts and know that a high tide during the day will have an impact on space for blankets and beach chairs.

But don’t fear. What nature takes, it also gives back, at least some of it.

The so-called winter beach almost always loses sand, but that changes back for the summer beach.

“Over the course of the summer the gentle storm waves will bring some of that material that was eroded off, back onto the beach face,” says Julia Knisel.

It’s already happening at Singing Beach.

“It’s slowly coming back in. Everything will be open and we hope people will come down and enjoy the beach. There might not be as much of it, but come on down and enjoy it,” says Tom Kehoe.

The idea here is, what we see on Memorial Day will not be what we see on Labor Day.

The beaches should grow during the summer. However since the winter was so harsh on the coastline, some experts don’t expect all the beaches to be fully restored. But the good news is, even with the losses, vacationers and day-trippers will still be able to enjoy North Shore Beaches.

Singing Beach, Manchester By The Sea: http://www.manchester.ma.us/pages/manchesterma_recreation/singingbeach

Salisbury Beach, Salisbury: http://www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/northeast/salb.htm

Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester: http://gloucester-ma.gov/index.aspx?nid=299

Long Beach, Rockport: http://www.capeannmass.com/rm/beach.html

Plum Island: http://www.plumislandma.org/

WBZ-TV’s Beth Germano contributed to this report.

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