Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ft. Pickens Road breached

Less than 24 hours after reopening, Ft. Pickens Road was breached in several places within the Park courtesy of Invest 90, a large extratropical storm which brought the Gulf Coast heavy rain, high surf, and wind gusts around 40 mph.

Sadly, I won't be able to make my sea turtle patrol of the shoreline along Ft. Pickens Road for the Park Service tomorrow morning. I would normally drive a Mule which isn't up to the task under these circumstances, but one of the Park Rangers will patrol in my place using an ATV.

Some of the parking areas were completely submerged.

High tide is around 9:15 a.m. tomorrow morning, so the road may be breached again. This photo was taken mid-afternoon, hours after high tide.

In some places the water washed completely over the island and into the Sound...

knocking down sand fencing much too flimsy to stand up against Mother Nature.

The road had to be cleared of sand which also covered the road in some areas. There were even a few stranded vehicles which flooded out.

Guess Mother Nature wanted to make sure we remembered who's in charge after all our crowing about the road opening yesterday.


PJ said...

I'm just stunned. How could this happen? Didn't they move the road to the north side of the island?

Barrier Island Girl said...

They did move the road to the north side of the island, but it is so flat from the barricade to the fort that is doesn't take much to wash over. It's very sad.

It's just going to take time for the island to heal. We need lots of sand fencing and sea oats to grab the sand and grow dunes. Quite honestly I'm a bit scared for the area this summer because I'm sure we will be hit by much bigger storms.

If you want to see Ft. Pickens, I'd suggest you do it fairly soon.
I'm not trying to be an alarmist, but summer storms will probably wash the road out again. Nest time it could be cut off again.

The area is so beautiful -- not so much because the trees have been killed, but the wild life/shore birds that have taken over.

You really should come and try to get photos, PJ. You're excellent and I enjoy your blogs. Let's document as many memories as we can.


Unknown said...

PJ none of this was unexpected. In the very news release announcing the initial road opening, issued jointly by the park service and the FDOT, they warned:

"Due to the road [sic] being constructed mostly at grade, the Fort Pickens Road will be more subject to flooding from major rain events as well as tropical systems. Consequently, it may be necessary to close the Area and campground on short notice."

Unless I misunderstand, I gather from DJ's pics that there has been overwash and sand deposits but not an actual break-up of the road itself. Sand can be cleared (as she shows) and the water should subside with the abatement of the high winds that pushed it onshore. Yes, this will happen again -- and yes, the road could completely wash out. It was built to be sacrificial; in fact, it was this or nothing, in the name of natural conservation.

Kirigalpoththa said...

Very interesting blog! Keep it up!!

tiki island said...

I know the road was meant be be sacrificial but really, four years later and we get it back for only a day! I was so looking forward to going down there after the weekend

Barrier Island Girl said...

Not to worry, 'Tiki'! The road wasn't damaged, just breached (washed over) in spots and will drain fairly quickly. We might as well get used to this occuring any time we have a tropical storm combining with high tides and surf until the dunes rebuild.

I hope people visit soon. It is beautiful and there are shorebirds everywhere. If you take binoculars and are patient, you may be able to see some of the tiny newly-hatched Snowy Plover chicks running around. So cute.

There are also a lot of wildflowers blooming. You'll love it.

PJ said...

I read up on it some this morning. I understand it now but I attended meetings about the different possible locations for the road and I thought they were seriously considering the north side. Thanks DJ, I hope to make it out soon.

Altered Glass said...

Wow, how interesting. I got to experience living on the gulf for a week in Galveston. It was so beautiful, but after experiencing high tide and low tide. I could see how water can move ANYTHING. That absolutely beautiful water. The Mississippi River is in our backyard, it is just muddy...