Moraine Cay, Little Abaco, Bahamas | home
Hurricane Floyd 1999
Below is a picture of hurricane Floyd just hours before this category 4 storm scored a direct hit on Moraine Cay. While it arrived on a fairly low tide, the maximum evidence of debris driven up on our beaches by high waves was barely above our normal, spring tide, highs. As of 2004 Floyd is a distant memory as recovery of the flora and fauna has been miraculous except in terms of the relative size and maturity of the growth. Our beaches have recovered to dimensions not seen even before the storm.
As everywhere in the Abacos, there was considerable damage to our flora and fauna as the intensity of the wind stripped our trees of leaves and small branches. Imbedded tornados appeared to "braid" some of our ancient mangrove trunks. Fortunately, our cay is in the tropics, and plants are being quickly replaced because of long growing seasons and rapid growth. On another note, thanks to being mulched by washed up seaweed, our beaches have already more than fully recovered from the pounding they took.
It is this authors opinion that storms cannot mount much of a surge unless they have a large shore to pile the water up against and/or a gradual continental shelf slope. If the large shore is concave, and the slope of the shelf is very gradual like the coast of the Carolinas or the gulf of Mexico, the wind driven water has an even more difficult chance of escape. With little islands like Moraine Cay, well in from a steep continental shelf slope, the wind driven water can pass around the island more easily as well as back around both sides of the storm at the steep shelf, leaving less opportunity to build much height. On Little Abaco, just 10 miles away, the storm produced surges 6' above normal on the North side, while at the same time, on the leeward, or south side of Little Abaco, the water was blown away from the shore entirely. Elbow Cay was cut in two. Guana Cay suffered massive beach erosion, and Tilloo Cay, no doubt, had water wash completely over some areas as did Guana, since this can also happen to those cays during a common "rage". A rage is a large surf condition produced by large swells coming from offshore winter storms.