Washington's Coast
Washington State Department of Ecology

WAVES
STORMS
 
EROSION
What's
happening

Ocean Shores
Cape Disappointment
Washaway Beach
Westport
Leadbetter Point
dams
jetties
Erosion, North Beach, Ocean Shores
Dune erosion, North Beach, Ocean Shores, 1998 In recent years, erosion has increased at Ocean Shores near the Grays Harbor North Jetty. Winter storm waves attacked dunes, North Beach, 1998.
Ocean Shores: shoreline changes
Without jetties, most of Ocean Shores would not exist. In the early 1900s, jetties were built at the entrance of Grays Harbor to improve navigation. After jetty construction, sand began to collect north of the North Jetty. Many miles of land formed. Most of Ocean Shores was built on this newly accreted land.
Following construction of the North Jetty in the early 1900s, North Beach grew rapidly. As the jetty deteriorated, a spit developed. After the jetty was repaired, the spit eroded. North Beach continued to expand seaward. Repairs to the jetty in 1976 however, did not cause North Beach to grow.
Initially, the North Jetty captured sand carried by currents, including sand from shoals (bars). Over time however, the sand supply has decreased. There is less sand for the jetty to capture. So jetty repairs no longer cause North Beach to grow rapidly. Beach growth has stalled -- and winter storm waves hit the beach with increasing force.
Destroyed park bathrooms following winter storm, North Beach, Ocean Shores, 1999 Winter storm waves destroyed park bathrooms, North Beach, Ocean Shores, 1999.
Erosion hits Ocean Shores
In October 1995, a storm eroded a swath of shore 30 feet wide and a thousand feet long on North Beach, Ocean Shores. The damage threatened condominiums worth millions of dollars.
  • Rock sea wall installed
    In response to the erosion, condominium owners payed $500,000 to install an 850 foot rock sea wall. The wall shielded the condominiums, but erosion increased on nearby beaches.
  • Beaches near sea wall damaged
    By 1998, erosion had damaged dunes on both sides of the sea wall. As a temporary measure, contractors installed long sandbags or geotubes on 700 feet of beach for $100,000.
  • High waves washed out a park structure
    In March 1999, 30 foot waves topped the jetty and destroyed a park restroom. Five feet of sea water flooded streets in the area.
The North Jetty created miles of new land by trapping sand. Note the old 1880 Ocean Shores shoreline in gray.
Ocean Shores shoreline during 1880s and current shoreline
Many homes were built on newly accreted land vulnerable to erosion and flooding.
Homes built on land that did not exist 100 years ago.
Source: The Southwest Washington Coastal Erosion Study.
 
Images courtesy of: Brian Voigt, S. Eykelhoff, and R.C. Daniels, 2000. Coastal surface geology of Washington State. In Coastal and Marine Slide Compilation (CD-ROM), Volume 1. R.C. Daniels (ed.). Coastal and Marine Specialty Group, Association of American Geographers, Washington D.C. To order this publication, visit http://aag_coma.homestead.com

Southwest Washington Coastal Erosion Study. A recent study of Washington's coastal processes and shoreline changes.

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