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Wind and Waves Batter Florida Shore

A lifeguard stand tilts towards the water at high tide at Bathtub Reef Beach in Stuart on Sunday afternoon. Severe erosion washed away the footing of the structure. (Amanda Voisard / The Post) Click the image for photo slide show

Stormy weather took a bite out of local beaches Sunday, leaving residents gawking at damage to Bathtub Reef Beach in Stuart. Winds gusted to about 30 miles per hour in some areas of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, causing such serious erosion on Hutchinson Island that visitors lifted yellow police caution tape to scamper up a sand berm for a better look at waves stealing sand from Bathtub Reef Beach. Officials closed Bathtub Reef Beach last week after erosion exposed tree trunks and roots at the popular swimming spot on Hutchinson Island. They also trucked in a dozen loads of sand to build a berm along the parking lot. But the weekend's gusty northeastern winds sent a steady spray up and over the berm and nearby fences. Muddy, grayish-colored water pooled in the parking lot and ran in rivulets to the road below. A lifeguard station at one end of the beach tilted precariously toward the water; steps that weeks before led from the boardwalk down onto the beach dropped off into choppy waves Sunday. Palm Beach County's erosion was most noticeable in areas north of Juno Beach. A resident who has lived at Ocean Trail in Jupiter for almost 30 years said weekend waves were some of the worst she has seen. Lifeguards flew a red flag for extreme waves Sunday, but surfers and strong swimmers still made their way out to the water. The waves washed sea turtle eggs from their nesting site on the beach into the grass over the seawall. Bathtub Reef Beach is susceptible to erosion because of its rocky shoreline and reefs. Large waves and strong winds blowing in just the right direction can devastate the area and the recent erosion is THE WORST IN DECADES.
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