OUTER BANKS, N.C. (WAVY) — Every year, storm systems across the Atlantic Ocean produce more than destructive landfalls and major news headlines.
They create waves.
From thousands of miles offshore, or right along the coastline, storm systems have the power to constantly shift the sands of our beaches. And nowhere is that more present than the Outer Banks.
“You’ll never get bored surfing here,” said Brett Barley, a professional surfer from the Outer Banks. “Other places, you know the angle, the period and the size that make certain waves do certain things. Here, every single swell surprises me.”
Most of the time, a storm’s energy is transferred through the waves of the Atlantic in a destructive way. But back in late August and early September, the coastal erosion from storms like Idalia and Ophelia uncovered a piece of history on Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
“Like many barrier islands, it’s constantly eroding,” said Dave Halloc, superintendent of Cape Hatteras National Seashore. “What we’re seeing here are the foundations of some of the sound surveillance buildings and structures that were used by the Navy.”
From 1956 to 1982, parts of Naval Facility Cape Hatteras were used to monitory offshore submarine activity. Before being declassified in 1992, this technology was operated with top secrecy during the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War and the Cold War.
In fact, in the early 1960s, the first Soviet submarine was detected from the shoreline of Cape Hatteras.
“Life on a barrier island is quite unique because it’s so dynamic,” Halloc said. “One of the reasons people love to come to Cape Hatteras National Seashore is because it’s always changing.”
Back in September, residents and beach goers along Buxton Beach noticed a strong scent of petroleum. The pieces of the former naval base contaminated the soil and groundwater nearby.
The Army Corps of Engineers released a statement claiming more testing of the site needs to be done to determine the next steps of remediation.