Shoreline Erosion Causes Concerns Beach Goers

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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – An occurrence at South Padre Island is drawing concerns from beach-goers.

It's called winter beach, it's a natural cycle which happens around this time of the year where the water erodes the sand.

Experts say this year it's more severe than in the past.

Edith Cortez, from Brownsville, said she noticed the issue immediately when she arrived at the island Tuesday.

"I just wanted some time to relax a peaceful place and well this is the perfect place to come and read actually," said Cortez.

She asked herself, 'where did all the beach go?'

On Tuesday, the beach looked much narrower than it usually does.

Cortez said she became concerned, "This is a place where my family usually comes every weekend for the summer it's a part of where I am, where I'm from so of course it concerns me."

CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke with Brandon Hill, the South Padre Island shoreline director. He monitors this natural phenomenon.

"It's essentially where the wave energy in the Gulf increases in the winter months," said Hill when explaining what winter beach is.

He explained what happens is water picks up sand from the beach, dunes and then is carried off into the Gulf. There, it's dropped off on sandbars roughly 100 feet out into the Gulf.

While this does happen every year, this time it's a little different.

"We have this year just a more energetic gulf than we did last year which leads to the significant difference that we are seeing," said Hill.

He said the reason this year is such a striking contrast to previous years is linked to the unusual winter we are currently facing.

"This year we had very high energy in the gulf and that wave energy and those tidal currents redistributed our sand from our beach and dune system," said Hill.

While the sand is gone, for now, it won’t be for long.

"The sand will begin to migrate back on shore in March and April and we'll continue to see it build as we go through the summer," said Hill.

Hill said this is because in the summer the Gulf is much calmer than during the winter.

He urges beachgoers like Cortez not to worry, as this is natural and there is still plenty of beach for people to enjoy.

During this time, he said their crews are extra careful when cleaning the beach of debris and trash. They are making sure to leave as much sand on the beach as possible.


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