Snow clear­ing

Warmer win­ter weather washes away part of beach at North­ern Bay Sands

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE -

Carbonear coun­cil has re­sumed plow­ing a name­less ser­vice road. The move is seen as a tem­po­rary mea­sure un­til a more per­ma­nent so­lu­tion can be found.

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A warmer win­ter might be wel­comed by many Con­cep­tion Bay North res­i­dents snow­mo­bile en­thu­si­asts aside but it has wreaked havoc on a pop­u­lar sum­mer spot, the beach at North­ern Bay Sands.

Chris Mul­laly, the owner of North­ern Bay’s Ice­breaker Lounge, said he’d heard all of the sand had been washed away, but once he’d had a look for him­self, he said it wasn’t as bad as he’d ini­tially thought.

“A lot of the sand is gone,” he said, not­ing that there’s been a lot of dam­age down to the bar­rier that pre­vents sand from mov­ing too far from the wa­ter. “ That’s all tore up, and there’s a lot of rock up on the grass, and there’s a lot of de­bris all over, a lot of rock and a lot of sand gone.”

There’s a lot of rock mixed in with the sand too, said Mul­laly. “A lot of rock has washed up too,” he said, not­ing that the waves usu­ally bring in sand but this win­ter has also de­posited a lot of stones on the beach. “ There’s a lot of rock in the sand it­self, where the beach is.”

De­spite the dam­age done to the beach, Mul­laly said it should be OK once a good cleanup is done to it, al­beit one that will re­quire a lot more work than in pre­vi­ous years.

“It’s a lot of cleanup, I think,” he said. “ That’s pri­vately owned too, now.”

Mul­laly praised the work the cur­rent owner, Neil O’Leary, has done in mak­ing the beach a pop­u­lar fam­ily des­ti­na­tion.

“He’s do­ing a great job, and he’s opened up dif­fer­ent ar­eas for more camp­sites, so I think he’s do­ing a great job down there, but like I said he’s go­ing to be faced with a lot of prob­lems down there this year.”

O’Leary did not re­spond to a re­quest made for an in­ter­view to dis­cuss the dam­age to the beach.

Norm Catto, a pro­fes­sor in Memo­rial Uni­ver­sity’s ge­og­ra­phy depart­ment who spe­cial­izes in beach ero­sion, said that al­though he hadn’t seen how much of the sand was washed away, there has been ero­sion in other parts of the Avalon penin­sula, and the warmer win­ter weather this year was likely the rea­son for the sand lost at North­ern Bay.

Some sand is washed away ev­ery year, but sand is also de­posited on the beach ev­ery year as well.

“North­ern Bay Sands is ex­posed to waves from the north­east,” said Catto.

“ What of­ten hap­pens is that we get storms that re­move parts of the front of the beach sys­tem. In a nor­mal win­ter, North­ern Bay Sands is ice cov­ered. We’ve got an ice foot on the beach so it’s com­pletely frozen, and we’ve got snow in be­hind. But in a win­ter like the one we’ve had up un­til a few days ago, where we had warmer weather and not so much snow ... that would mean then that the beach would be ex­posed.”

Catto said when strong winds come in from the north­east and there’s noth­ing to hold the beach in po­si­tion, then there’s a lot more ero­sion than nor­mal.

He noted that sand washed away is prob­a­bly slosh­ing around just off­shore.

“It’s prob­a­bly not gone. It prob­a­bly is off­shore, and over time it will move back onto the beach sys­tem,” he said. “I don’t think that you’d be in a sit­u­a­tion where the sand would never come back and that North­ern Bay Sands would just turn into a rock plat­form.

“ The off­shore of North­ern Bay Sands is quite shal­low, so sand that is swept off the beach will gen­er­ally come back; it’s just a ques­tion of how long it’s go­ing to take to come back.”

Catto also said the rel­a­tively short beach sea­son in New­found­land gives its beaches more time to re­cover each year.

“Our tourist sea­son is so con­densed, com­pared to what you would have fur­ther south, that the beach gets a breath­ing space.”

How­ever, Catto noted North­ern Bay Sands has been washed away be­fore. Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal his­tory, the pro­fes­sor said, the beach was washed away dur­ing a ma­jor hur­ri­cane in 1775. “ That caused a lot of dam­age at North­ern Bay Sands and killed a num­ber of peo­ple.”

North­ern Bay Sands has been a pop­u­lar sum­mer des­ti­na­tion for peo­ple from the cap­i­tal city and all over the Avalon Penin­sula and be­yond for as long as any­one can re­mem­ber. For many years it was op­er­ated by the prov­ince as part of the pro­vin­cial park sys­tem, un­til the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment de­cided to pri­va­tize most of its parks. North­ern Bay was among the parks, which were taken over and op­er­ated by the pri­vate sec­tor.

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