NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

March 8, 2013

High tide brings fears

staff reports
Newburyport Daily News

---- — Although the local beaches weathered yesterday’s high tides, concern was being raised by community officials about this morning’s high tide, which is expected to surpass the tide that cause problems during the Blizzard of 2013.

In Salisbury, where a mandatory evacuation order is in effect for properties along North End Boulevard and Central and Atlantic avenues, storm-heightened tides washed over oceanfront structures and onto beach roads yesterday, including Broadway at the center. Flooding cut off Beach Road at the tide’s peak, said Salisbury Emergency Management director Bob Cook, who urged residents to honor the evacuation order during periods of high tides.

“We got through Thursday morning’s high tide but I’m very worried about (this morning’s) tide,” Cook said. “The high tide is definitely expected to cause flooding. They’re still predicting 30-foot waves on top of the storm surge.”

This morning’s high tide around 8:30 a.m. is expected to bring the worst flooding and erosion conditions of the two-day storm. High winds and storm-driven surf will lash the coast.

In anticipation of the morning high tide, a two-hour delay was posted for all Salisbury, Newbury and Rowley schools within the Triton Regional District. A similar delay took place yesterday to ensure no one was traveling coastal roads during peak tides.

In addition, all school-related activities last night, including a performance of “Anything Goes” at Triton High School, were called off, again to prevent evening coastal travel.

Cook, along with Seabrook Emergency Management director Joe Titone, cautioned drivers not to attempt to drive through standing water on roadways. Tides can begin to wash over beaches as early as two hours before peak high tide, Cook said, and roads can begin to fill earlier than drivers expect.

“Water on the road is often higher than you think it is and can cause cars to stall in the middle of it,” Titone said.

Plum Island saw some erosion in yesterday’s high tides, but fears that homes would be lost did not happen. Extensive sandbag barriers built along the most exposed portion of the beach at Annapolis Way took a beating, but held.

Yesterday morning’s high tide at Seabrook Beach breached the sand berm on the Ashland Street beach access point that town officials built before the blizzard, Titone said. Town trucks restored that berm, reinforcing it along with the one at the Hooksett Street beach access point. During the blizzard, the berms had kept water from flooding the beach district roads.

In Salisbury, crews also mounted beach sand along the oceanfront on Broadway, a spot frequently inundated by coastal flooding.

Both Cook and Titone recommend people stay off the beaches during high tides; the waves are furious and can easily sweep bystanders off their feet, they said.

Salisbury police Chief Tom Fowler closed off Broadway yesterday morning as a safety measure to prevent bystanders from getting close to the beach, he said.