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Minor Erosion Found On Pinellas Beaches From Elsa

Pinellas Beaches after Elsa
Pinellas County
Only minor erosion was found on most Pinellas beaches in the wake of Elsa

The worst spots for erosion were found on the north and south ends of Indian Rocks Beach, which had been renourished recently.

Only minor erosion was found on the Pinellas beaches after Elsa passed off the Gulf Coast.

The downgrading of Elsa from a hurricane to a tropical storm apparently reduced the amount of erosion from wind and waves, said Dr. John Bishop, coastal management coordinator for Pinellas County.

"I think we fared much better than I was expecting. With a Category 1 supposedly to come as close as it did, I think we got lucky with how it deteriorated and moved offshore," Bishop said. "Because there was a lot less erosion than I expected."

Bishop said the line of seaweed and debris left by the storm was usually at the beginning of sand dunes.

"The waterline, the rock line, where it sort of leaves seaweed and debris was really right up to the edge of the dune, maybe a little bit lower, so we didn't really get a lot of dune scarfing, which was good," he said.

The worst spots he found were the north and south ends of Indian Rocks Beach, which had been renourished recently.

"In some areas, the beach did sort of drop by a few feet, but that tended to be towards the ends of where we nourished the beach," he said. "So one of our projects where there's already a wider beach to begin with - sort of the centers of those project areas didn't do too badly, either. Visually speaking, it was difficult to see a lot of erosion in any of these areas."

Bishop said scientists from the University of South Florida will be conducting a more extensive survey of the beaches. And Clearwater Marine Aquarium volunteers are re-marking turtle nests that were affected on Indian Rocks Beach.

"Keep in mind the tides are still up," Bishop said. "So visual assessment is a tricky thing when the tides are up, but we will be having USF collect some surveys for us shortly and they'll be serving beach profiles along the beach for us. And we'll we'll analyze that data and see if there's any we can quantify any any real volume changes."

Scientists monitor the beach
Pinellas County
Pinellas County officials monitor erosion

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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