NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 5, 2014

Winter wallop ahead

Today's storm expected to bring 10 to 14 inches

(Continued)

For residents of Plum Island concerned about beach erosion, the weekend storm is the one to keep an eye on. Bob Connors, a Plum Island resident who lives along the most vulnerable stretch of the island, said he’s been monitoring the surf forecasts and the numbers he’s seen for this weekend are a cause for major concern.

“Next Monday is forecasted to have real good wave energy,” Connors said. “So [today], other than the snow, I think it’ll be insignificant, but what I think is coming in this weekend is going to be much bigger.”

Connors said the coast is typically subjected to around 70 kilo Joules of wave energy on a normal day, and closer to 1,000 kJ during a storm. Last March, when six homes were lost following a major winter storm, Plum Island was subjected to more than 10,000 kJ of wave energy.

The wave energy on Plum Island during today’s storm is only expected to peak around 180 kJ early tomorrow morning, but the wave energy is expected to peak at close to 5,750 kJ on Monday afternoon, according to Surf Forecast.com.

If those numbers hold up, the storm could be the latest test for Plum Island residents who have seen the beach dune steadily creep up closer to their homes. After last winter’s destruction, residents began taking every step available to protect their homes, including some actions not sanctioned by the Department of Environmental Protection.

For example, many residents installed rock barriers in front of their homes along the coast, and those barriers were credited for helping limit the damage caused by this winter’s storms. The barrier was recently extended to protect the historic Bennett Hill house, which has served as a landmark on Plum Island for more than a century, but is now sitting precariously at the edge of its dune.

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