Dr. Charles Flagg took another flight over the Breach at Old Inlet on Fire Island on December 8, 2016. The flyover mosaic is available below. Dr. Flagg provided the following report:
I flew over the breach again today, December 8th, and there are some major changes. The photos and a mosaic were taken around 9:50 AM, near low tide in the Bay. What you’ll see is that the eastern shore has expanded considerably compared to last month and swallowed up the tidal ponds that were there. There are a couple additional shallow areas in the breach to the west and north of the extended eastern shoreline. Given the growth of the eastern shore since last month, it is possible that one of these shoals will connect to the eastern shore. After nearly three years with little change along the eastern shoreline, there has been a lot of action starting in June of this year with ridges and runnels reaching around the shore from the east. By September, a ridge had extended farther into the breach and enclosed a small tidal pond. The situation remained about the same through October and November and then over the last month there has been substantial growth nearly doubling the width of the eastern beach. The shore-to-shore width of the breach is now about 300 meters compared to 400 plus meters 6 months ago.
Another change, although not too obvious from the photos but clear in the mosaic, is that the entrance channel into the breach from the ocean now comes in from the east. There is a bit of a shoal to the west of the exit channel in the breach which cuts off the more usual exit to the west. We have seen shoals to the west of the breach before but the offshore channel went either around them or straight offshore. So this easterly tending channel is new.
We haven’t seen our usual nor’easter yet this fall. Rather, there have been a number of high wind days from the northwest. I don’t know if that is behind these changes in the breach but this fall’s conditions have been unlike the previous 3 fall periods. With the growth of the eastern shore and the presence of the two shoals within the breach, the channel through the breach and flood delta is getting quite convoluted. It will be interesting to see whether the sure-to-come winter storms reset the breach to a more open condition or whether the shoaling continues.
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.