MANTOLOKING, N.J. (AP) — The Jersey shore's beaches are in their best shape in years heading into the Memorial Day weekend, the result of a massive replenishment project after Superstorm Sandy and some simple good luck: a series of brutal winter storms that took it easy on the coastline.
Most of the storms did little or no damage to the shoreline and instead dropped snow over inland areas without causing significant erosion along the coast.
Couple that with the federal beach replenishment underway along most of the Jersey shore, and you've got a potentially primo beach season as the second summer following Sandy nears.
"The beaches actually came through the winter pretty well," said Jon Miller, a coastal expert at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. "We had a rough winter in terms of snow and cold, but the nature of the storms was such that they didn't cause a lot of erosion. Most of the storms took a land route rather than over water. Part of it was just dumb luck."
New Jersey's luck was all bad during the Oct. 29, 2012, storm that damaged or destroyed 360,000 homes and businesses, causing an estimated $37 billion in damage. Houses were pulverized, boardwalks smashed into kindling, beaches were washed away and a roller coaster was pitched into the ocean.
But this past winter, the five biggest storms didn't generate the kind of wave action that caused so much damage during Sandy, experts said.
Another major factor in the robust condition of the beaches is the ongoing replenishment project that pumps sand from offshore sites onto the beaches. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is restoring the beaches to their pre-Sandy condition.
For most spots, that means 150 to 200 feet of sand.
Sandy Hook, Sea Bright and Monmouth Beach are all in good shape following replenishment work, which is ongoing in Long Branch. Miller said several beaches to the south of Long Branch, including Deal and Loch Arbour, are "the missing link" because they had not previously been replenished and have very little sand right now. They are due to be replenished this fall or winter.
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