USGS sees widespread beach erosion from Maria

Hurricane Maria is weakening as it moves north but causing high winds and waves that are eroding beaches along the coast. (WITN/ WAVY)

WAVES, NORTH CAROLINA - The U.S. Geological Survey says two-thirds of the beaches in North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland have a high chance of eroding as Hurricane Maria swirls offshore.

Maria's strength is diminishing, but oceanographer Joseph Long says its strong winds are still generating large waves that will hit the coastline from North Carolina to Maryland's eastern shore. As the storm moves north, those large waves will erode beaches and in some cases "overwash" the dunes that protect coastal communities.

The USGS Coastal Change forecast shows about 60 percent of North Carolina dunes will be eroded, and 5 percent of that coastline will be under sea water.

In Virginia, it shows two-thirds of the beaches north of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay are likely to erode, and a third overwashed.

And in Maryland, high water could reach and erode sand dunes along two thirds of the coastline, with less than 5 percent of the dunes overwashed.

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© 2017 Associated Press


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