OCEAN CITY – The passing of Tropical Storm Bertha created the tidal pools on the resort’s beaches on Tuesday, according to the city engineer.
Tuesday’s heavy shore break and the formation of tidal pools on Ocean City’s beaches led many on The Dispatch’s Facebook page blame beach replenishment for the water’s activity while others thought it was due to Tropical Bertha approaching off-shore.
“It is clearly the large swells that we are getting from Bertha. Tidal pools are not an unusual occurrence. We get them all the time. We see them on Assateague where they don’t do beach replenishment, so clearly it is the swells from Bertha,” City Engineer Terry McGean said on Wednesday. “The beach patrol has been getting the word out with these wave conditions that we are having problems with rip currents, so I hope everybody is taking that seriously.”
Ocean City Beach Patrol (OCBP) reported four to five foot waves crashing onshore on Tuesday, called shore break, and the impact can cause severe injuries. OCBP also advised beach goers to avoid the tidal pools where water is rushing out as it is not safe.
According to OCBP, the tidal pools formed on the beaches where water rushing out clearly shows the dynamics of a rip current. In Tuesday’s case, the water trapped on the beach was making its way back out to the ocean. Usually with a rip current, this scenario is happening below the surface of the water when water is being transported from the trough through a break in the sandbar out into deeper water.
Many Facebook comments refer to the cause of rip currents being due to beach replenishment removing sandbars.
“We still have the sand bar,” McGean said. “Pretty much every off-season a sand bar forms. That is a natural occurrence. What happens is you get what we call short period waves typically in the winter time, and a sand bar will form offshore. During the summer, you get much larger swells and the sandbar will reattach itself to the beach. That is typically when you see the tidal pools. That is why you see a typically narrower beach in the winter time and a wider beach in the summer time because that sandbar forms offshore, and that happens whether you have beach replenishment or you don’t have beach replenishment.”
McGean furthered, in Tuesday’s case the opposite occurred due to the severe waves.
“That is basically what it is. That sandbar moving back and forth that will create those tidal pools,” he said. “What create those tidal pools is the natural dynamic forces on the beach, and what usually happens is as the beach gets narrower the sandbar forms that usually happens in the winter time but it can happen when you have severe wave action at any time.”