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Where did the beach go? People shocked by dramatic erosion

NAGS HEAD, N.C. (WAVY) — Visitors to a stretch of beach along the Outer Banks of North Carolina are met with a startling sight — erosion you almost have to see to believe. 

The beach on the north side of Jeanette’s Pier was heavily eroded during the past few days. Locals say the sandy part of the beach is usually at least two or three times wider than what it is right now. 

This showcase of Mother Nature’s handiwork has turned into something of an attraction for visitors and locals. Some say they had to come see it to believe it. 

“We were like ‘ok this can not be true; that’s crazy.’ So we decided hey let’s go on our lunch break and so what better thing to do on your lunch break than to come and see something like this,” said Outer Banks resident Martha Keener.

“At first we did think that’s a made up picture, but it’s really not,” said fellow OBX resident Toni Midgett, about a picture circulating online.

It’s a relatively small section of the beach that is affected. Officials say the large dunes are there helping protect people’s property. 

So how did the face of the beach change so dramatically in such a short period of time? Experts with the town of Nags Head say wind is to blame. They say extended periods of North and Northeast winds can carve up a beach like this. 

“Escarpments are not unusual on the beaches here,” explained Roberta Thuman with the town of Nags Head. “This one is larger than normal due to the high, protective dunes. There is no equipment available to level out the dune. Once the winds turn back to the prevailing southwest, the escarpment will level out.”

The Gray Eagle public beach access point, closest to the erosion site, has been closed until further notice.