Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Tropical Storm Colin displaces Longboat Key sand

Although dry beaches on Longboat Key lost about 20 feet of sand on average due to Tropical Storm Colin, town officials say there’s still plenty of sand in the coastal system.

  • By
  • | 6:00 a.m. June 22, 2016
Public Works Director Juan Florensa surveys the latest portion of the island’s mid-Key truck haul.
Public Works Director Juan Florensa surveys the latest portion of the island’s mid-Key truck haul.
  • Longboat Key
  • News
  • Share

Last Wednesday, Town Manager Dave Bullock was scouting the damage to beaches following the storm near the North Shore Road beach access, and he noticed something peculiar.

A man was fishing about 80 feet from the shore, from a newly formed sandbar, and dozens of beachgoers were wading through a freshly carved channel near two groins built last year.

Bullock said the scene showed that while Tropical Storm Colin may have washed away 

chunks of dry beach along the island’s shorelines, the sand is still in the overall shore system. In fact, after Tropical Storm Debby in 2012, a similar sand shift occurred, and in several months, the shoal had drifted back to the mainland.

“Storms take away beach, there’s no question about that,” Bullock said. “But you always want to be a little patient after a storm and give nature time to redistribute the sand.”

Tropical Storm Colin traveled through the Gulf of Mexico June 6, creating at least 4 feet of storm surge that flooded dozens of streets in Longbeach Village and on the north end. With the town in the midst of the $10 million mid-Key truck haul, the rough surf churned up the newly placed sand.

“This was a light storm,” Bullock said. “We had pretty heavy wave action, and it was kinda fun looking at it, but it wasn’t Category 3 winds and 7-foot storm surge and all of that.”

Public Works Director Juan Florensa trudged along the same beach Friday, informally surveying the loss of sand.

“You can’t throw a frisbee there, you can’t play with your kids there, and you can’t play volleyball there,” Florensa said, motioning toward the new sandbar. “And you certainly can’t lay a towel there.”

Although he acknowledges the loss of some recreational use of the public beach, he said that the main purpose of a hearty beach is to protect the infrastructure on land, such as the 360 North condominium complex on North Shore Road, which doesn’t have a seawall. But with groins holding a 100-foot-wide beach in place, the area wasn’t inundated during the storm.

“The beach performed its first duty, which is to protect,” Florensa said, noting it may have lost about 20 feet in width. “If there was no sand there, the water would have been up into the building.”

Farther south, a sea turtle nest marked with stakes June 16, sat in front of the new Infinity condominium on sand delivered during the mid-Key truck haul. It’s a reminder of the environmental duty the beach performs, serving as a nesting ground for turtles, Florensa said.

It also indicates that there is still sand remaining from the summer renourishment project, though about 25 feet of beach width has disappeared and formed a sandbar about 150 yards offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The storm was not quite as bad as we thought it might be,” said Lisa Gilford, manager of Sun ’n Sea Cottages & Apartments,which received some of the 200,000 cubic yards of new sand. “We lost some sand, but not nearly as much as we thought we would.”

Even in the new sandbar, the sand will still serve its main purpose, Bullock said, because there is an entire dune system of sand

that slows wave action as it approaches the shoreline.

“They’re like speed bumps,” Florensa said. “There’s still plenty of sand in the system.”

Sand that hasn’t disappeared into the gulf or formed sandbars has likely moved south along the coastline and will deposit along other Longboat beaches, Bullock said. Or it could flow south to Lido Key.

“Nature wants to move that river of sand,” Bullock said. “She’s always done it and is not going to stop.”


Latest News