Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Opens "new" Old Inlet across Fire Island

Brookhaven hamlet is separated f Between Brookhaven hamlet and Fire Island is the the Great South Bay.  On Fire Island directly opposite Brookhaven hamlet and the village of Bellport is a section of beach known as "Old Inlet."  Between 1763-1827, this area had a wide inlet from the bay to the ocean.  This inlet was important in the establishment of Bellport as a minor seaport.  In about 1827, it closed up, apparently due to a ship becoming grounded in it.  During the worst storms, minor ocean wash-over sometimes occurs in the region, running to the bay.  And apparently, it has opened as a minor inlet several times since 1827, but mother nature quickly closed it up.

This 2 mile stretch of Fire Island is one of the flattest areas of Fire Island. While Old Inlet was never a community, it was a private bathing beach called The Old Inlet Club, which members used for ocean swimming and occasional picnics. It had a dock and a picnic shelter similar to the one at Bellport Beach. There was a dock on the bay and a winding boardwalk to the Ocean. Along the way were a small set of bath houses where beach goers could change their clothing and shower with cold, fresh water.

This section of Fire Island is part of the Fire Island National Seashore.

During Hurricane Sandy, a new Old Inlet opened up.  Folks familiar with the area indicate that it is the most substantial opening in their memory.  As of Sunday, November 11, 2012, it was still wide open with no signs of closing.

This video shows the new Old Inlet shortly after the storm from a boat on the bay, said to be one of the first visitors to the area after the storm.   The video has been widely circulated throughout the community, but I have not been able to determine the actual photographer or when specifically it was taken.

The following photo was taken by Charles Flagg, a physical oceanographer at the State University of New York at Stony Brook on April 2005 showing the Old Inlet area looking north into the Great South Bay, including the dock, board walk and Pelican Island (right of center) (which is the site of the Pattersquash Gun Club). The remnants of the original pre 1827 Old Inlet is the v-shaped cut to the left of the picture. John Boyle Island is off to the right and Ridge Island is to the left.
Old Inlet area before Hurricane Sandy

The next photo was taken by Charles Flagg on Saturday on Saturday, November 3, 2012.  It is a close up shot from the south of the new Old Inlet looking north (the Great South Bay is at the top). This inlet is slightly to the east of the site of the original Old Inlet.  The Old Inlet dock can be seen no longer attached to Fire Island.  Pelican Island, site of the Pattersquash Gun Club, is at the top left, and there are several new sand islands to the north and west. Photo was taken during flood tide.
Aerial view of the new Old Inlet across Fire Island from ocean to the Great South Bay.

This link is a report (pdf) by Charles Flagg.  It is from this report that the above pictures were taken, and it includes additional aerial photographs and a discussion.
This site --The Great South Bay Project -- at SUNY-SB, provides links to YouTube aerial videos of the new inlet site, and other information on the SUNY-SB project.

The following picture is from the National Park Service web site.  While the photograph was undated, the web page was dated 6 November 2012.  Note evidence of dune wash-overs to both the east (right) and west (left) of the inlet.
New Old Inlet.  National Park Service
Picture added 16 November 2012

This link -- Old Inlet and Fire Place Beach Clubs history -- is a local history of the two local beach clubs established in the Old Inlet area.


Anonymous said...

Please do NOT close these inlets. That is a huge waste of time and money. Let nature be natural.

I have been on Great South Bay for more than 40 years. The quality of teh bay is better with more water exchange - like before the Pike's inlet was closed.

Steve said...

I agree keep this inlet open or at least let nature take it's course!
The Great South Bay will only benefit from the clean water flow into this section of the bay! And test results indicate the tides are no different than Pre-Sandy tides in height!

Anonymous said...

The breach will not close naturally. With the flat condition of the beach it will be prone to greater flood waters entering the bay and causing higher flood stages than if the breach was closed. Please close the breach and spare the mainland UN-necessary further headships.