Hurricane Sandy damaged NC-12, the road to Hatteras, but high tides driven by sea level rise and nor-easters put it under water and destroyed it at Mirlo Beach. This video is from November 14, 2012.

This area, called S-Turns by surfers has great waves that have been rapidly eroding the beach front. There appears to be a lack of shoals directly offshore of this area. To the south, there appears to be a shoal offshore. The offshore shoal may be refracting powerful waves from southeasterly tropical storm swells into S-Turns. To the far north at Oregon inlet, dredging and jetties restrict the flow of sand flowing south. Pea Island, which is south of the inlet has been losing beachfront to the rising seas. S-turns is at the southern  boundary of the receding Pea Island shoreline. This situation makes S-Turns a hotspot. NCDOT has repeatedly filled in the area at S-Turns, but the ocean continues to attack it. Sea level rise is the underlying factor that is slowly defeating all engineering efforts to maintain the road.

Locals who don’t understand global warming, sea level rise and local coastal processes are proposing to “renourish” the beach, but erosion rates are so high in the Rodanthe area that it would be like burning money to keep warm. A new inlet is forming at the surf spot known as S-turns and we’re not going to be able to stop it.

Here’s the Serendipity House back in 2009, where “Nights in Rodanthe” was filmed. This spot is now in the ocean. The wrecked NC-12 road is west – landward and north of this spot where Serendipity was. Serendipity was moved a few years ago before the waves would have torn it apart.

This used to be one of the most famous surf spots on the east coast. It is now an inlet that the NCDOT is trying desperately to close up.

Americans love their beaches, but they aren’t acting to stop climate change.

All of our beaches are threatened by climate change and sea level rise. Pumping sand from offshore won’t stop the rising tides and it won’t save our beaches. Denying sea level rise as North Carolina’s Republican legislators have done is worthy of ridicule. They have made fools of themselves.

If we are serious about saving our beaches (and our coastal cities like New York City) we need to get serious about stopping greenhouse gas emissions. Sooner or later all of our beaches will look like Mirlo Beach if we don’t slash emissions.

This post comes from a scientist who finds himself to be a Fish Out Of Water.  In a related story, see When it comes to SLR, conservatism is (unrealistic) optimism