A storm developing east of the Bahamas has Flagler County officials worried–not about a significant wind or rain event, but about higher tides, high waves and further damage to the already weakened dune system along the county’s 18 miles of coastline.
Some parts of the coastline, especially in Flagler Beach, cannot sustain yet another round of erosion: the dunes have been carved out north of the pier, to the point that the wall of sand is even with the boardwalk and State Road A1A.
The impacts, if the storm does intensify and head Flagler’s way, would start approaching Sunday night and peak on Tuesday and Wednesday, Flagler County Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord said this evening.
He said forecasting models are not in any kind of agreement right now, with some showing the storm developing into a hurricane well offshore, some showing it moving north and east as a tropical storm, some showing it as a noreaster, and some, like the European model, showing it moving further west toward the Florida coast.
However it may develop, the most serious impacts to properties would take the form of some yard flooding, but not home flooding. That would happen not because a heavy rain event might develop, but because the Intracoastal may get backed up.
Emergency Management’s aim right now is not to worry residents but to make them aware of what may be coming. No evacuations are expected.
“The bigger concern is the coastline because there’s going to be some elevated tides,” Lord said. “I can’t quantify the elevation of the tides. Nonetheless today the high tide is touching the base of the dune system.”
Lord said some homes are “precarious,” having already lost so much sand around their foundations, as in Painters Hill. The dune system is precarious, where it still exists, and the pier is certainly at risk of further damage. It was severely damaged by Hurricane Ian, losing another 125 feet at its eastern tip. An engineering report found it was even more damaged than meets the eye, and recommended its closure. The pier has been closed permanently, pending its demolition.
“I can’t see a situation where the pier doesn’t get more damage,” Lord said. Will mother nature help that demolishing a little further? I would say yes.”
He said waves have been forecast to be 4 to 7 feet high, with some models showing them as high as 9 feet, but more likely offshore. Meanwhile, there isn’t much the county can do but make residents aware and itself be on the alert. County crews have been checking spots vulnerable to breaches.
As of Thursday evening, the National Hurricane Center was giving what Lord describes as a “blob” of a low pressure system a 10 percent chance of developing into a tropical storm in the next 48 hours.