The January storm that knocked out power for over 500,000 residents and businesses in Western Washington left its mark on many beaches, including the restored beach at Bowman Bay in Skagit County. Peak water levels reached more than 1 foot above the predicted high tide for the day (known as storm surge), and wind gusts up to 67 miles per hour were recorded, as winds from the West-Northwest drove waves ashore.
Waves crashed on the beach and overtopped the dunes pushing massive logs up into the beach and leaving nose-tingling deposits of decaying seaweed inland of the walking path. A series of clues written in beach wrack are left for beachgoers to see the reach of the ocean waters during this storm event. Before and after photos of the beach are remarkable.
The dramatic effects of this storm are a routine function of our dynamic beaches - part of their seasonal changes and longer term shifts that allow the beach to slowly migrate landward and retreat to higher elevations to keep pace with rising sea levels. The Bowman Bay beach restoration project, previously carried out by Northwest Straits Foundation and Skagit MRC, restored these natural processes by removing rock armoring, re-grading the beach to match the natural contour, adding beach material to support forage fish spawning, and planting native vegetation.
Learn more about the Bowman Bay nearshore restoration project here.