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Storm erodes Newport beaches

Torrents of rain eat away sections of beach and toss garbage onto the sand. City says the eroded areas will return naturally, and it credits recent sand-replenishment projects.

January 23, 2010|By Brianna Bailey

The recent spate of winter storms have gnawed off about 50 feet of sand from local beaches, all the way from Newport Pier to the famous body surfing spot the Wedge, city officials said.

“The storms came in with a diagonal attack on the beach, with waves and high tides,” Newport Lifeguard Battalion Chief Mitch White said Saturday. “That cuts away the sand and creates a longshore current that comes up and sweeps the beach.”

Work crews had to use front-loaders to move about a dozen lifeguard towers about 20 feet up the beach this week to keep them from drifting into the water.

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At Newport Pier on Saturday, the beach was littered with boulder-sized clumps of kelp as far as the eye could see. The recent storms also tossed large amounts of garbage up onto the beach. Broken plastic cups, detergent bottles, and an uprooted tree trunk were mixed in with the debris.

The storms bit off large amounts of sand from the beach around the Wedge in the last week, leaving a six-foot drop off from the beach to the water’s edge in some places on Saturday.

“It will come back naturally,” said Tara Finnigan, a spokeswoman for the city of Newport Beach. “Every winter, we lose an area of beach, but by the following fall, it builds back up again. That sand doesn’t go too far off shore.”

Finnigan credited recent city sand replenishment projects that dumped extra sand on local beaches from preventing worse erosion.

No local beachfront homes were damaged by the sand erosion, she said.

“We’re fortunate we still have a good-size beach area between the water and people’s property,” Finnigan said.


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