, Salem, MA

January 7, 2013

Crane's dunes hammered by winter storm

By Jonathan Phelps
Staff writer

---- — IPSWICH — The dunes at Crane Beach took a hit during the powerful winter storm at the end of last month, but officials say they aren’t worried about permanent erosion.

Bob Murray, superintendent of Castle Hill for the Trustees of Reservations, said that up to 6 feet of sand was lopped off the dunes in some areas from the recent nor’easter.

“The fact we had an astronomical high tide because of the full moon and the storm surge, it pushed the tide even higher,” he said. “So we did have some cutting into the dunes in the main swimming area.”

Murray said there most likely won’t be any long-term effects on the beach or its operations.

“It is a periodic occurrence during the winter,” he said of the damage to the dunes.

It is a cyclical process where sand is swept away in the winter and then washed back up in the summer, he said.

Murray said one of the two boardwalks owned by the trustees had to be closed for several days because there was a steep drop-off at the end with the sand being washed away.

There was no permanent damage to the boardwalks, he said.

The emergency entrance to the beach also needed to be cleaned up after the storm because the beach was inaccessible to emergency vehicles.

Jeff Putur, the town’s superintendent of the cemetery and parks department, said about 3 feet of sand was taken from the dunes near the town-owned boardwalk during the storm.

“It was just sand damage,” he said. “Every couple of years, the tide takes the sand out and brings it back.”

He said this was minimal damage compared to when about 20 feet of sand was swept away to sea in the early 2000s.

Putur said his department assessed the damage shortly after the storm.

While sand blocked portions of it, there was no structural damage to the town’s boardwalk, he said.