The Post-Storm Hurricane Hugo Recovery of the Undeveloped Beaches Along the South Carolina Coast, "Capers Island to the Santee Delta"


  • Walter J Sexton


Beach profile, tidal inlets, delta front beaches, barrier island, delta washover deposit.


Hurricane Hugo made final landfall on the South Carolina coastline on September 21/22, 1989 with storm surges of 6 to 7 m and winds estimated at 140 mph. Numerous field excursions have been made to the study area since the storm's landfall in 1989. During these field trips, data collection included low altitude aerial overflights, beach profile data, and general ground observations. From the analysis of this data, the beaches and tidal inlets within the study area have essentially recovered. Capers Island has had the slowest recovery of any of the regressive barrier islands. The delta front beaches on the Santee Delta (Cedar Island) are now sandy beaches, whereas before the hurricane, the beaches were mixed sand and mud. The transgressive barrier island beaches of Cape Romain have resumed their landward retreat completely eroding the hurricane wash over deposit. The hurricane tidal inlet that formed along Cape Island (Cape Romain) has matured, first forming a flood-tidal delta then reducing its cross-sectional area and forming an ebb-tidal delta. It appears that it is now in the process of closing off. Post-storm washover fan deposition was observed on Capers Island. This process was active for two years following the storm and continued until the top of the beach built vertically to a point where it was not overtopped by high tides. The regressive barrier islands have recovered to their previous morphodynamic patterns. Bull Island's beaches have experienced full recovery, whereas Capers Island's beaches are unstable in that the beaches are somewhat sediment starved with persistent erosional zones.