OCEAN CITY — A rare anomaly reappeared at the Ocean City Inlet last weekend in the form of a wide, flat sandy beach on the south side of the north jetty that first emerged in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in fall 2012.
Residents and visitors out and about last weekend enjoying a brief respite from the long winter discovered the wide sandy beach appeared again on the south side of the north jetty in a rocky area typically under water and pounded by heavy surf and swift currents. The rare exposed beach first appeared in the weeks following Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012 when nearly all of the area beaches were altered to some degree and some more than others as sand was eroded from certain areas and deposited in others.
Perhaps the most startling change following the storm was the appearance of a new sandy spit of new beach as wide as 25 feet at times depending on the tide on the south side of the rocky jetty. The new beach eventually went away without intervention from the city or the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the federal navigation channels in and around the resort.
Ocean City Engineer Terry McGean said the town was aware of the silting in at the Inlet that briefly created the odd new beach this week, but added Mother Nature and the tides and currents would likely take it away as quickly as it appeared.
“In my opinion, this is just a natural phenomenon that occurs during certain high wind events,” he said. “It seems to go away in a few weeks and there are no plans for any action on this from the city.”
After seeing the latest pictures of the odd Inlet beach, Army Corps of Engineers-Baltimore District Engineer Bob Blama agreed natural forces would likely take care of it without intervention.
“I agree with Terry,” he said. “It seems to happen every year that the Inlet gets shoaled in and in a week or so, it will naturally wash out.”
When the beach first appeared in 2012, McGean said the unique features of Sandy likely caused the sudden appearance of the beach at the Inlet. He explained the littoral drift moved sand parallel to the shoreline, typically in a north-south direction. During Sandy, however, the opposite effect occurred with tons of sand moving from south to north, which deposited the sand along the south side of the north jetty.
A series of harsh winter storms over the last few weeks likely caused a similar effect that briefly created the odd beach at the Inlet last weekend.