Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/561

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557
WAVE WORK

WAVE WORK ON THE NEW JERSEY COAST[1]
By Professor DOUGLAS W. JOHNSON
and
WARREN S. SMITH

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

DURING the winter of 1913–1914 three unusually severe storms with violent on-shore winds visited the coast of New Jersey. The first of these, known as "the Christmas storm," attained its maximum strength early on the morning of December 26, and was accompanied by winds which attained a velocity of 123 miles an hour. Professor W. M. Wilson gives the following brief description of this storm in the Monthly Weather Review for December, 1913.

With 13 lives lost and millions of dollars of damage done to property, the terrific wind, rain, sleet and snow storm, which began Christmas night and swept over five states, abated early on the twenty-seventh, leaving a cold snap in its wake. The masters of the A. C. Rose and the Undaunted, coal barges, with eight seamen, lost their lives when the barges foundered off Forked River, New Jersey. Two men died of exposure and were found in roads near Trenton, New Jersey. A workman was drowned in the East River when his rowboat was swamped. The full force of the storm fell upon that portion of New Jersey which reaches out into the ocean like an elbow. Records at Long Branch show that the wind attained a velocity of 123 miles an hour, the highest ever recorded by the Weather Bureau at that point. Seabright, New Jersey, was the plaything of the ocean. Waves whipped by the gale tore away supposedly floodproof bulkheads, smashed bathhouses, washed away or undermined fishermen's cottages, tore away portions of two big summer hotels, inundated the main streets, and buried railroad tracks under 18 inches of sand, brick, and rock.

The second, or "New-Year's storm," was even more disastrous than the first, partly because the coast had been left in an unprotected condition by the preceding attack. On January 4 the fury of the second storm reached its maximum. Driven by a terrific gale whose extreme velocity reached 120 miles per hour, the waves broke upon the beach with a thunderous roar. Bulkheads which had been destroyed or weakened during the earlier storm afforded no protection for the unconsolidated sand of the beach, and every wave seemed to sweep a little of it out to sea. At Seabright groups of dejected men, soaked to the skin by driving rain and salt spray, stood helplessly by the shore and watched the waves remove the land from under their houses, the houses tip over into the sea, and the waves pound them to kindling wood in the space of a few moments. Others labored to place wooden rollers

  1. The substance of this article appears as part of Bulletin 12 of the Geological Survey of New Jersey.