Hurricane Matthew Wipes Out East Coast Sand Dunes

hurricane matthews

Hurricane Matthew was obviously a whopper of a storm. Up to 1,000 people in Haiti lost their lives because of it, and 1.5 million people were ordered to evacuate the coastal areas in Florida as the monster storm approached. The damage was widespread and unforgiving.

The waves and storm surge from Hurricane Matthew in particular caused a type of damage you don’t hear about that often: dune erosion. In Florida, 15% – or 53 miles – of the state’s coastal sand dunes were literally washed away. Areas north of Florida got hit even harder – Georgia lost 33% of its dunes, and South Carolina lost a whopping 42%.

This information was gathered via a month-long aerial survey conducted in October 2016, and you can see the shocking imagery in the photo above. Prior to the storm, a total of 300 sensors were installed at various coastal locations to help measure the impact and feed the aerial survey imagery.

The loss of the dunes is troubling because these natural barriers serve to protect coastal areas from incoming tidal forces. That’s why the information from the aerial survey is so critical – it will help officials predict future coastal erosion so that emergency management personnel can be better prepared.

For more information of the impact Hurricane Matthew had on Florida’s coastal sand dunes, check out this article from the Miami Herald.

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