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Dr. Charles Flagg, with pilot Rich Giannotti, took another flight over the Breach at Old Inlet on Fire Island on March 8, 2016.

Dr. Flagg provided the following report:

The flight took place near high tide but the water was clearer than during the last couple of flights so that the shoaling in the channel is clearly visible.

 

The total width of the breach is now close to 500 meters.  This is a result of the retreat during the January storms of the spit on the west side that had closed off the channel to some extent.  However despite the relatively large distance between the headlands, the main deep channel through the breach was noticeably narrower as we flew over, and is on the order of 75 meters wide.  There is a large shoal extending into the breach from the east highlighted by the breaking waves along its rim.  This shoal extends to the north in the main channel reaching all the way to where the main channel bears off to the northwest.  The interesting thing about this shoal is that the main channel into the flood delta is now displaced off to the west, passing close to Pelican Island and no longer hugging the shore of Fire Island.  A shoal in that general area has been seen in the past so what this means in the long-term is unclear.  The channel off to the northwest just east of the remains of Pelican Island appears to be supporting considerable flow.  The osprey nest on Pelican Island is still hanging on.  The spit off the western shore remains in essentially the same location it was late in January while the shoals to the north of it seem to have spread out some.

 

To the south, the ebb shoal has moved onshore by some 100 meters during the past month, as indicated by the breaking waves, while there is now an apparent opening through the shoal to the breach’s main channel.  Also, the along-shore extension of the ebb shoal since last month has disappeared.

Mark Lang has assembled all the geo-referenced photo mosaics into a kml file that can be viewed using Google Earth.  By clicking between images and using the fade in-out button you can clearly see how the inlet is changing with time.  An offline version of the KML file is available as KMZ.

For more information, please visit Dr. Charles Flagg’s website.

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