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Posts Tagged ‘Storm surges at the Jersey Shore’

Sandy. 2012. Ocean Grove. Bob Bowné photographer. ©

Sandy. 2012. Ocean Grove. Bob Bowné photographer of this image showing the storm surge before it wiped out the Fishing Clubhouse and Pier. ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

Note: This article is from Sept 2015. Sandy was October, 2012.  You will find that it is still relevant, especially in light of the recent movement to advance the North End Redevelopment plan.  If Dr. Orton or anyone else wants to update this post  (re-posted now Nov. 11, 2019), that can be done by clicking on “comments” below:

Did you ever consider having a chat with a physical oceanographer, i.e. a storm surge scientist? Well, neither did I, until recently when Philip Orton, Ph.D., a professor and researcher at Sevens Institute of Technology contacted me.

Phil is  also is on the New York City Panel on Climate Change, and his official academic title is “Research Assistant Professor.”  Stevens Institute is at Castle Point on Hudson in Hoboken, NJ. He blogs at SeaandSkyNY.com.  Dr. Orton recently re-did the FEMA flood mapping assessment (their new draft maps) with added sea level rise.

Phil  (I call him  that because he is a Grover)   likes to spend August each year vacationing with his wife Jennifer in Ocean Grove. But lately this couple has been shopping for a second home in OG. Since he is a fan of Blogfinger, he wanted to chat with me about the town.

So I thought, what do I want to chat about–how about a talk over coffee regarding the beating that OG took during Sandy? Or how about the risk of another Sandy? We did all that and more. We even got to discuss the proposed North End underground garage, the flooding at the South End, and the spurting water from the bottom of the new Mary’s.

We accomplished these goals after coffee and Danish on my porch and then a phone interview with Phil from his Manhattan apartment. Phil Orton is a regular guy who happens to have recently prepared research studies for FEMA regarding the ocean levels after Sandy and risk of future storm surges. Here is a video of Phil at the time of Sandy:

I make no claims to having any expertise, but here is a summary of what I learned from Phil:

  1. Over time, the ocean levels rise and the land levels sink, with the extent of the latter varying with where you live. The process traces to the Ice Age and has been going on for thousands of years.   In the last 100 years, the subsidence (land sinking) along the Jersey Shore has been a total of 20 cm. (about 1/2 foot). The global ocean rising has been a similar amount. But the concern for the next hundred years is the possibility of rising global ocean levels by 1-6 feet due to global warming.
  1. Ocean Grove and Asbury Park did relatively well during Sandy  (“a wild beast of a storm”) because of protective berms and dunes. It went on for 3 days and produced winds of 60 mph , but an “unprecedented” surge caused horrible flooding up and down the Shore.  Barrier islands did worse because they got hit from two sides. Phil thought that the risk of another Sandy flood was small,  perhaps 1% or less per year. He said that “good dunes” can protect neighborhoods from the waves and flooding of big storms, and, as you all know, the rebuilding of OG’s dunes is ongoing.
  1. The main function of the jetties (“groins”) is to try and prevent sand from moving along the Jersey coast, south to north—–in other words to combat erosion.
  1. It is technically feasible to build an underground garage at the North End using modern engineering techniques. The garage can be waterproofed to protect against rising ground water, but if a surge goes over the dunes, the garage could be flooded. Cars would have to be moved out if a big storm is expected. The cost and complexity of such an engineering and construction project could be huge.
  1. Phil is not a ground water expert, but he thought that the South End situation could be helped by more aggressive pumping techniques. The problem may not be totally curable.

We thank Phil for participating in this Blogfinger interview. We wish Jennifer and Phil well as they seek a fine home in the Grove——–on high ground, of course.

Editor’s note:  Elevation maps of OG are available at Town Hall. Phil is not the only Grover who has consulted those maps before shopping and buying real estate in town.  As for the North End project, if they ever do a site plan and an elevation map for that project, they will have to relate those elevations to the existing ones at the north end where the elevations tend to be on the low side compared to further south on the boardwalk to the Pavilion area.

( Thanks to Jack Bredin, researcher, who has reviewed those maps for us.) —-PG

THE EMBERS

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