Pinellas County now knows that Tropical Storm Debby removed 630,900 cubic yards of sand from several miles of local beaches.
It also knows the offshore sand bar, which is 150 to 300 feet off the shoreline, picked up 657,700 cubic yards of sand.
Both measurements come from Dr. Ping Wang, a USF geology professor under contract to continuously monitor and measure Pinellas beaches for this specific reason: the county always knows what it had before a storm, so it can apply for federal disaster assistance after a storm.
"We've been studying the county beach for about 11 years," Dr. Wang said Wednesday. "Tropical Storm Debby would be the storm that caused the most widespread erosion along our beach."
He said some of the sand now sitting offshore might come back in, but "...the recovery through natural processes will take much longer and it's quite unpredictable."
The sure bet: renourishment. The Army Corps of Engineers is considering giving Pinellas $25 million for emergency beach repairs. The county's coastal manager said replacement sand could come from a shoal near Egmont Key.
"A large quantity of sand's there, it's known to be a very good quality beach sand, we've used it in the past," Andy Squires said. "There's no existing permit, but we think we could expedite a permit from DEP since that's a familiar area."
In the meantime, the expanded offshore sand bar offers some protection during the current hurricane season.
"That makes the bar wider and higher so the top of the bar becomes shallower," Dr. Wand explained. "When the water becomes shallower, the wave breaks over the bar. When the wave breaks over the bar, it kills the energy that arrives at the shoreline." That decreases the risk to developments on the beaches.
To read the report, follow this link:
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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