Winter Storms
January 12, 2018 | Neil Brosnahan
by Ashley Brosnahan


Well it's been a fairly mild winter temperature wise so far.  The beaches however have really taken a beating the past six months.  Starting back in October we had a Nor'easter that chewed up the manmade beaches and dunes, but created some incredible sandbars.  Then the storm a couple of weeks ago "Jonas" took another swing at the sand from the beaches and dunes in Bethany Beach.  This time of the year that is typical though.  While winter storm Jonas was a well publicized event the storm back in October and the one occuring today didn't really recieve a lot of media attention.  Today the ocean is again whipped up into a frothy beast.  I find it funny how the media can ignore some weather events and overdramatize others.  The flooding and beach eriosion that is going on today is pretty bad.  

As most people who buy homes here are not familair with coastal storm events I often get asked what to expect.  Since I have lived here my entire life there are not many storms that surprise me.  I know that the tide will come up, I know that Pennsylvania Ave in front of the Bethany Beach post office will be under water, and I know not to try and drive down Fred Hudson Road.  Generally these winter storms come up the coast from the Gulf of Mexico, head out to sea somewhere around Cape Hatteras and pass off our coast creating huge waves and hard onshore winds.  The duration and velocity of the wind can vary but the longer the duration the higher the tides will be.  Most of the property damage around our little beach towns is limited to shingles being blown off and some minor flooding in the low lying areas.  The building codes here have really helped to protect a lot of the homes in our area.  Generally speaking most of the homes that are on the Ocean Front and waterfront are built to be situated well above the highest of the high tides.  Occassionally we get a storm that tracks an odd direction and isolated areas get a little wetter than others.  

There are some things that you can do to minimize your exposure to the highest of the high tides and strong winds.  Most of the things are common sense, but as most people are not from the area they are not aware of a lot of things that affect our area.  So here are some tips for keeping dry during the winter storms.
  • While most building codes restrict building below the flood plane often times people are tempted to put living area on the ground floor.  Basically anything that is built below the flood plane is uninsurable.  So its a good idea to not put anything down there that you are not willing to lose.
  • As most homes that are in the flood plane are built on pilings the area underneath the homes usually becomes storage areas.  As most people tend to have a lot of toys at the beach it is a good idea to build some racks to store the toys.  Bikes, beach chairs, umbrellas, and such will fare better in an elevated position than if they are left sitting at ground level.
  • Make sure that anything mechanical is located above the flood elevation.  Most insurance companies require this but sometimes people end up putting things like an extra refrigerator or freezer in the ground level.  I've even seen washer and dryers located down there as well that are used for beach towels and such.  A small platform that eleveates these even a foot will go a long way in making sure that the next season these appliances are not ruined.
  • There are some homeowners that keep a car in the garage for beach use.  If you know a storm is comming it's a good idea to get it to high ground.  It would be a bummer to come down to the beach and the Jeep is ruined.
  • Speaking of cars do not drive them through flood waters.  The water depths can be deciving and you can find yourself in trouble quickly.  Also our flood waters are Salt Water.  Even if you make it through the water the salt can damage your vehicle.  If you absolutely have to pass through some water take your car to the car wash and get the undercarriage sprayed with fresh water.  The damage caused by the salt will creep up on you and have unexpected consequences.  
  • Make sure you do a sweep of your property before you leave.  Store furniture and umbrellas for the season.  Make sure that the trash cans are secured.  High winds can blow deck furniture around and smash it into a sliding glass door.  There are always trash cans floating down the roads and blowing around during winter storms.  So if you don't want to buy a new set of trash cans every season make sure they are secure.  
  • After the storm is over take have someone take a look at your home.  Shingles may have blown off, siding may be damaged, or gutters may be gone.  It's always better to find this out sooner than later.
  • Keep a passive eye on the weather.  It's not always the media hyped storms that tend to do damage.  Today is the perfect example.  No one is really talking about any storm but we have extremely high tides and some pretty heavy winds.  It's coming from a storm that is pretty far off of our coast.  Although it was sunny this morning the ocean was churned up!  There are some weather apps that will send you an alert when we get a coastal flood warning.  My favorite is 
Don't get me wrong owning a home on the water is an awesome thing.  Don't let the few times that the weather gets ugly discourage you from buying your dream home.  The beautiful sunny days and cool ocean breezes far outweigh any ugliness that mother nature may toss at you.  See you at the Beach!

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