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Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program

April 2007 Nor'easter Damage in Falmouth, MA

by Joe Costa

April 16, 2007 satellite image of the passing Nor'easter
NOAA GOES-east satellite image of water vapor,
the morning of April 16, 2007.
A spring nor'easter swept through New England on April 15 and 16, 2007. In this report, only coastal erosion damage to the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts is described.

In Falmouth, most of the impacts from this Nor'easter occurred on its south shore, along Vineyard Sound, during the late evening (after 9PM) on Sunday April 15, 2007. High tide along this southern facing shore ranged from 10:00 PM at Falmouth Heights to midnight in East Falmouth.

The storm landing coincided with spring tides. [Spring tides are higher than average tides that occur every two weeks coinciding with new and full moons]. The storm piled up an extra 3 feet of water above the normal spring tide for this date (tide tables estimated a +2.0 feet tide at Woods Hole, whereas the actual tidal elevation reached 4.98 ft). Go to our Storm and Hurricane page for current conditions.

April 15-16, 2007 tidal gauge data station at Woods Hole

A NOAA weather buoy south of Nantucket Island showed seas as high as 24 feet on the morning of April 16. (12:00 GMT coincides with 6 AM Eastern Daylight Savings Time). Go to our Storm and Hurricane page for current conditions.

April 15-16, 2007 wave heights recorded south of Nantucket

The western of shore of Falmouth (on Buzzards Bay) had for the most part negligible impacts. Wrack line showed a one to 1.5 ft elevation above normal spring tide. Modest erosion in a few areas (e.g. some dune erosion at Woodneck Beach). The limited damage was due to the fact that winds were primarily out of the East-Southeast, so the Buzzards Bay shores of Falmouth were on the lee side.

Click on the images to view an enlargement. Click 'back" on your browser to return to this page. Photos by Joe Costa.

Damaged seawall on Gardner Road, woods Hole
Water overtopped this damaged seawall facing Buzzards Bay on Gardner Road. The seawall was damaged in another storm in 2006. Because there is no culvert under the seawall, there is no place for the flood waters to go.

High water levels in West Falmouth Harbor, along old dock road.
High water levels in West Falmouth Harbor, along Old Dock Road.

Spring high tide and storm surge covers the jetty at Megansett Beach.
Spring high tide and storm surge covers the jetty at Megansett Beach.

Flooding occurred in low-lying areas of Woods Hole near where there has been discussion of the need to restore tidal exchange in an area between Eel Pond in Woods Hole and a sea wall on Gardner Road. Over wash from the storm topped the damaged wall on Gardner Rd. in Woods Hole flooding the area to the east on Gardner Road. With no tidal opening, the water has no place to go, and a number of homes are surrounded by a foot of standing water.

Damage on south shore of Falmouth was more severe. Storm surge broke through dunes at Nobska Beach (on Church Street). Surf Drive sustained the most damage in Falmouth, and this stretch of coast with roads and a bike path built just a short distance from the ocean have been subject to repeated storm damage over the years. The Shining Sea Bike Path was over washed over a large stretch and was covered with gravel. Further erosion occurred around raised summer cottages on Surf Drive, blowing out small dunes, and large amounts of sand and water filled the roads. Pavement along the edge of the road was damaged in some areas.

Inlets to a number of the small salt ponds (Salt Pond, Oyster Pond) were blocked. The blockages occurred on the seaward side of the inlets. The Fresh River was completely blocked with a large sand deposit, essentially a newly created dune. Other areas like the Trunk River appeared severely restricted. Falmouth DPW will have to expend considerable effort clearing the entire Surf Drive area, restoring tidal exchange to the inlets, and clearing off and selected other areas like the Falmouth Heights Beach (Grand Ave) and east of Bristol Beach on Menauhant Rd.

Some modest damage was observed to piers, but additional damage will likely be reported.





Click on the images to view an enlargement. Click 'back" on your browser to return to this page. Photos by Joe Costa.

Erosion around a raised beach cottage on Surf Drive, Falmouth, MA.
Erosion around a raised beach cottage on Surf Drive, Falmouth, MA.

Shining Sea bikepath near Surf Drive was overtopped with waves during the night leaving much gravel and sand.
Shining Sea bikepath near Surf Drive was overtopped with waves during the night leaving much gravel and sand.

Erosion on Menauhant Rd. which was constructed on the barrier beach south of Great Pond.
Erosion on Menauhant Rd. south of Great Pond. This road is constructed on a barrier beach in front of the coastal pond.

Flooding of homes along Gardner Rd. in Woods Hole.
Flooding of homes along Gardner Rd. in Woods Hole.

Another view of storm damage on Surf Drive, Falmouth, near the Town Beach.
Another view of storm damage on Surf Drive, Falmouth, near Oyster Pond.

Flooding of homes along Gardner Rd. in Woods Hole.

Another raised summer cottage on Surf Drive, Falmouth, MA.
Another raised summer cottage on Surf Drive, Falmouth, MA.

Channel to Fresh River, along Surf Drive in Falmouth, MA
This channel to Fresh River, along Surf Drive in Falmouth, MA was blocked by accumulating sand.



Addendum


Undermining of the Shining Sea Bikepath by the spring 2007 nor'easter in Falmouth, MA
Jefress Williams and Chris Polloni of USGS in Woods Hole were also out taking pictures, and discovered this undercutting of the Shining Sea Bikepath. This photo and caption was taken from the Falmouth Enterprise.