SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

February 20, 2013

Crane dunes hit again

Blizzard leaves 4-foot drop-off from boardwalk

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — IPSWICH — Crane Beach took another hit during the blizzard earlier this month.

Waves crashing into the face of the dunes caused sections to collapse, leaving a 4-foot drop-off at the end of one section of the boardwalk, according to Bob Murray, superintendent of Castle Hill for the Trustees of Reservations. The boardwalk was closed until repairs could be made.

Yesterday, the damage was still noticeable, but work crews had moved sand to the end of the boardwalk to make it navigable again.

“Any individual event can seem rather dramatic,” Murray said, but the cut in this particular dune isn’t cause for serious concern.

Murray said it’s a cyclical process where sand is swept away in the winter and then washed back up in the summer.

“Over time, (the sand) builds up; other times, we lose some,” he said.

The cut into the dunes during the Feb. 8-9 blizzard came after they were damaged during an intense storm in December that took up to 6 feet of sand from the dunes in some areas.

Murray said a volunteer tracked the damage after the blizzard with a GPS and compared data from previous years.

“We definitely lost in some places, and other places we’ve gained some,” Murray said. “We found that there wasn’t a huge change.”

Murray said there are concerns about climate change and permanent erosion, but it’s not clear when permanent erosion may occur. That’s one reason they track changes with a GPS.

“We know there will be changes,” Murray said, noting the evident changes on the eastern part of the beach near Essex Point.

“We’ve seen some dramatic changes over there,” he said.

As for the damage caused earlier this month?

“I think over the course of the year some of those effects will be canceled out,” Murray said.

Staff writer Jonathan Phelps can be reached at 978-338-2527 or by email at jphelps@salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter at JPhelps_SN.