The Living Breakwaters Could Be NJ’s Newest Defense Against Storm Surge

New Jersey Digest Magazine: Residents of New Jersey are no strangers to storm surge. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy battered the coastal towns of the state, inundating neighborhoods and streets with ocean water as the storm raged on. Atlantic City recorded a maximum storm surge of 5.82 feet during the height of Hurricane Sandy. The subsequent loss of housing and displacement of residents was devastating, but also potentially preventable.

The flooding during a hurricane is rarely from rain alone, especially in coastal communities. Hurricanes and tropical storms are shaped like donuts—if you’ve ever seen a weather forecast during a storm, you will notice swirling clouds with a hole in the middle. This hole is called the eye of the storm, and contrary to popular belief, this area is actually the calmest part of the storm cell.

As the wind enters the eye, it pushes down onto the ocean below causing vertical disturbances in the water’s surface. In the open ocean, there is plenty of space for these disturbances to dissipate. However, closer to the shoreline, the ocean floor pushes these disturbances towards land forming intense waves called storm surge. These waves have nowhere to break, except for the coastline they are headed towards. But in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, an architectural firm proposed a plan that could literally stand in the way of future storm surges. Read more>>