As everyone here knows, Wellfleet Harbor has been icebound for most the winter, but with the warmer weather of the last few weeks the ice has broken up and that means icebergs! Technically they are actually ice flows but we have to say that Wellfleet harbor was pretty glacial this winter. There was even an intrepid soul out on a paddleboard taking advantage of the open water! The best locations to see the icebergs in person were Mayo Beach or Chequessett Neck in Wellfleet, or Rock Harbor in Eastham & Orleans, or Provincetown Harbor. [Updated 3/24/15] It is now officially spring but the ice is still in here. Due to the wind pushing the ice to the south and the slightly warmer temperatures Wellfleet Harbor itself is now almost totally ice free. There are still very large chunks of ice in South Wellfleet, Lt. Island, Wellfleet Bay Audubon, Old Wharf are the best locations to see the ice as of now, we recommend Lt. Island Rd or the Audubon as they are the most accessible locations. To see the most recent pictures of the ice click here.
We surely don’t have to tell anyone how the weather has been here on Cape Cod this winter. Those who remember are comparing our recent weather systems to the Blizzard of 1978. Many Massachusetts residents’ most prominent recollection of that infamous storm usually involve being stranded somewhere away from home, either at The Boston Gardens for the 29th annual Beanpot, on the highways in a vehicle, or, luckily, in a random hotel making new friends. After the storm passed, there was a driving ban everywhere in Massachusetts except on Cape Cod. Certainly that does not mean Cape Cod was spared. The wide eye of the storm passed directly over Wellfleet. It was an amazing weather anomaly. The water in Wellfleet Harbor was perfectly calm, and as the tide came in the water flooded over the pier and over Commercial St. There was not a breath of wind and the temperatures remained balmy. The eye of the storm spanned from Truro to South Eastham as it slowly passed. While fishermen tending their boats in Provincetown struggled to stay on the pier (as opposed to being blown off) and the majestic trees that were in front of the Orleans Courthouse toppled like dominoes due the wind, a crowd of spectators gathered at Coast Guard Beach in Eastham to witness nature’s show of power.
The Coast Guard Beach that we all know and love was very different prior to the Blizzard of 1978 and a very dramatic example of how quickly changes to Cape Cod’s shoreline can occur. Prior to the storm there was a parking area situated on the Eastham side of Nauset Spit with a bathhouse on the side of the parking lot toward the ocean. Between the bathhouse and ocean was forty to fifty feet of low barrier coastal dunes. This parking lot was also used for ORV access to the Eastham side of Nauset Spit. In addition, Nauset Spit had beachside camps (cottages), including naturalist Henry Beston’s Outermost House the subject of his book with the same title. The Blizzard of 1978 changed all of this overnight. On an interesting side note ORVs were banned from Eastham’s beaches in 1978.
On February 6th, 1978 the storm hit the beaches of Cape Cod with its full fury. The powerful wind pushed a storm surge ahead of it and the combination of the storm surge and high tides obliterated the low barrier dunes and swept across the parking lot, knocking the bath house pavilion off its foundation.
A VW bug sits in Coast Guard beach’s flooded lot. This car had been overtaken by the incoming tide. Some people tell stories of standing on the hill above, watching this car surf in and out on the waves. Oral traditions indicated that the owners changed the sparkplugs after the storm and drove it away!
The dune at Ballston beach in Truro that separates the Pamet from the Atlantic Ocean was breached during the winter storm Juno. This is the second time in two years the barrier dune has been breached at this site. This is the Ballston Beach parking lot, it has been almost completely covered in sand from the dune. The Atlantic Ocean is clearly visible from the lot as the barrier dune has been completely blown out. The breach in the dune is approximately two hundred feet wide. All of these photos were taken around noon on 1/28/2015 at low tide at high tide the site is inaccessible without trespassing as it will flood again anytime there is heavy seas at high tide until the breach has been closed.
This line of vegetation marks the edge of the Ballston beach parking lot facing the Pamet. You can see the amount of sand that was deposited on the lot and on the marsh behind the lot.
The barrier dune has been completely erased, and is much wider than it was 2013.
The sand has been deposited in a wide fan like area which is a typical pattern. The sand was laid down over the parking lot at the freshwater marsh. This happened in 2013 as well.
This is the parking lot at the beach. What is interesting about this photo and the following one is that they clearly show the highwater mark because of the icing on the vegetation. It is very clear that at high tide this whole area was and will be under a couple feet of water.