The shape and cleanliness of New Jersey beaches has come a long way since Superstorm Sandy. Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe expects them to get even better despite concerns over sea level rise from climate change.
“The good news is that we are going to make it easier for the municipalities along our coastline to prepare for and adapt to climate change to find their information in one place,” she said. “Rutgers University, Stevens Institute, Monmouth University within our own state. As well as NOAA federally, and internationally you have the International Governmental Panel on Climate Change. They’ve all pulled together for some really great information on sea level rise.”
Mild winters over the past few years has affected the state of the shore, says Dr. Jon Miller, NJ Sea Grant Consortium Specialist and coastal engineering professor with Stevens Institute of Technology.
“That combined with the fact that there’s all of this great beach nourishment activity that’s gone on, it means that the beaches are in extra good condition this year,” he said. “We look at the storms. There were very few storms of significance. They caused minor erosion to the beaches. Any erosion that did occur, that sand is sitting in a sand bar offshore. When the conditions are right in the Spring, that typically works its way onshore. That sand is going to work its way back into the system. So, everything is looking good.”
The NJ Sea Grant Consortium has launched a rip current awareness campaign ahead of summer.
“They are very common along the Jersey Shore they happen every day and at any hour of the day,” said Dr. Amy Williams, one of the leads on the rip current awareness initiative. “A lot of places there are rip currents that are consistent and permanently there. Usually people know about it like the side of a pier where a jetty is. It continually changes the surface of the water and what’s going on underneath with the currents and the flow. But most of the time they are just coming and going. They can pop up anywhere and be unpredictable.”
What should you do if you’re caught in a rip current?
“You want to stay calm, wave, yell, and if no one is there to help you, swim parallel to the beach and come back in,” Williams said.
Experts predict a hot and dry season this year in New Jersey, with much less rainfall than last year.
“The beaches are in great shape. The water quality is in great shape,” said NJ DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe. “Come to the beaches and enjoy yourselves. And everyone that’s not from New Jersey, come to enjoy and discover out beaches.”