Beach Erosion on the Rappahannock River

October 26, 2000


Provided by: Pat Cooley; Shane Cooley
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster; Shane Cooley

This photograph was taken in September of 1999 and shows 4 ft waves and hight tides, associated with Hurricane Floyd, pummelling the northern shore of the lower Rappahannock River, about 7 miles from the Chesapeake Bay. Floyd and other tropical storms last fall caused considerable flooding and erosional damage in eastern Virginia. In this picture, the culprit causing the erosion is clearly visible, waves generated by powerful 60 mph winds, which were three times the size of normal waves on the Rappahannock. The bulkhead (in the foreground) and rip rap (submerged) was put in to protect the beach and shoreline from erosion. When this happens, the wave energy is often displaced downstream. Notice that the shoreline dips in on the other side of the bulkhead. In fact, the shore has eroded by more than 20 feet over a ten year period at this location, and a number of 30 - 50 foot Loblolly Pine trees, such as the one in the background, have fallen into the river.

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