Friday, November 30, 2018

A stormy start to the season!

It was a blustery start to the week here at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. The morning started with an alert from my phone. There was a gale force warning out for my area, specifically for the east entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Conveniently, that placed the PTMSC right in the middle of the action!

I knew I was in for quite the day.

The view from the PTMSC pier Monday morning.
Some waves sprayed over the pier! 

I got another clue when I pulled into my parking spot at Fort Worden and immediately saw a wave spray over the side of the aquarium pier. Over the roar of the wind and waves, you could hear our floating dock making a valiant bid for freedom.

Kelp and driftwood pushed ashore by Monday's storm. 

After taking a moment to snap a few pictures, I headed out to the aquarium to start the day’s work. Fighting against the wind through the aquarium door was a two-person task. The aquarium building makes a wind tunnel at the head of the pier—one that our resident pigeons seemed to love—which just about cemented our outward-swinging door shut.

The fun didn’t stop once I was in the building. Judging by the clipboard swinging on its hook on the wall—PTMSC’s budget seismometer for these events—today the pier would be rocking and rolling with the best of us.

View from the pier on a foggy morning in  July 2018. 
View from the pier on Wednesday.  

Monday’s wind storm definitely left its mark on the beach. I’m always surprised by how much beaches change over the seasons. The gentle forces that build up our beaches in the summer tend to reverse in the winter as they increase in intensity, eroding away much of the summer’s growth.

The beaches at Fort Worden are no different—but Monday’s storm definitely helped the process along.

Berms like these probably won't stick around for long,
but are evidence of some serious wave power. 
Walking along the beach now, you can see all of the bumps and bruises left over from the storm. We’ve gained a great new collection of driftwood logs piled up near the top of the beach. Waves cresting over half-buried logs eroded canyons behind them, and tunneled beneath—all the better to move these logs entirely in the next big storm.

Water surging over half-buried logs dug deep canyons
in the sand. 

Winter has definitely knocked on our door, and with the seasonal changes come more big, landscape-altering weather events like this one.

I can't wait to see what the next storm brings!

Written by AmeriCorps Natural History Educator Ellie Kravets.

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