The Fish Story

Lunar Eclipse Worth Not Seeing; Great Groin of Holgate to Soon Rise

By JAY MANN | Jan 16, 2019

The weekend saw the Island tally almost 4 inches of white stuff, at least in my nape of the spit. That’s plenty enough snow for the entire winter. Admittedly, I’ve grown as bah and humbugged as it gets when it comes to frozen precip. That’s hard for me to believe since, back in the day, I would go into one of those kid psycho-excited modes at the first sign of wonderful flakes. I’d let ring those immortal words, “It’s snowing!” – then rush from window to window to see where in the vicinity of my house it was coming down hardest. Ah, to be that easily amused again.

This minor whitening had an interesting political touch, as the National Weather Service could not officially measure snowfall amounts due to – try explaining this to future generations – an unbuilt Mexican border wall some 2,100 miles away. Holding to my high degree of apoliticalness, I wouldn’t mind the wall madness if the weather service was forced to suppress any and all snowfall until D.C. got its affairs back in order. “No Snow Until Further Notice.”

All Mann weirdness aside, sincere sympathy to our fine Coast Guard folks, suffering paycheck withdrawal during Wallmania. I’m waiting for the White House to excitedly suggest these highly trained military souls start shoveling snow for quick food money – remembering, of course, to declare that added income on their taxes. Not that anyone will be getting hasty tax refunds with the IRS on semi-shutdown … and possibly loving the 5-inch snowfall in D.C., so its employees can also moonlight as “snow removal specialists.”

Speaking of frozen precip, future forecasts aren’t looking good for us snowaphobes. While we’ll first see a week’s worth of typical winter temps and generally quiet weather, another mixed-bag storm system could move in for next weekend. Here’s hoping we aren’t getting a wicked-weekends trend going. A storm-a-week plan might sit well with D.C. but is way too costly for those who must pay plowers to clear businesses or driveways.

Which somehow leads to China successfully landing a spacecraft on the dark side of the moon, beating all the world’s advanced nations to the moon’s mysterious half, previously known by only Pink Floyd. China’s adroit landing on the unseeable-from-Earth “other side” indicates we’re entering a whole new race for space domination. Imagine the future manifestation of Capt. James Kirk actually being Capt. Zhang Wei Wu. “Beam me up, Zhang Yong.”

Politely speaking of the moon’s backside, its horribly scarred landscape vividly proves our orbiting compadre has taken some amazing hits for the team. Immense craters are evidence of incomprehensibly ferocious hits from what amounts to attacking celestial bodies, most likely far-flung asteroids. A killer asteroid left a gaping crater, known as the South Pole-Aitken basin, on the moon’s other half. Had that menacing space chunk nailed us, it would have mauled Earth into a different shape. Let’s hear it for Brother Moon. You da man … in the moon.

Out-there minutia: An on-the-move asteroid, tearing randomly through space, generally cruises at an average of 50,000 mph, slowing a bit in school zones. However, an asteroid explosively flung outward into resistanceless space can theoretically travel at over one million miles per hour – as other asteroids and meteorites scream, “Slow down, you jackass!”

Believe it or not, this upcoming weather and moon landing gab is all my cosmic lead-in to what we’ll likely not be seeing this coming weekend, namely, one of the finest “blood moon” full lunar eclipses since lunar eclipses were invented.

Why the “blood”? The total darkening of the moon, as Earth’s shadow moves across its humanesque face, will lead to it becoming an eerie crimson orb. It happens once in a blue moon.

The inbound total eclipse, conceptually speaking, could be perfectly seen in New Jersey, geographically speaking. Meteorologically speaking, a cursed storm system looks hellbent on blotting out this stellar celestial spectacle. No, the D.C. brownout can’t lead to a postponing of the eclipse until things are clearer. At least I don’t think it can. You know, I’d just better check on that.

AccuWeather Meteorologist Mike Doll at accuweather.com says, “There is a potential for a major winter storm to impact the mid-Atlantic and Northeast next weekend and could last into Sunday night. If that happens, viewing the lunar eclipse is a no-go for residents in those regions.”

I’ll be keeping close watch at my blog site, fishlbi.com.

BOO-HOO BIRDS: The Philly Eagles met their Waterloo in New Orleans. Sorry, “Birds” fans. With my Steelers not even in the dance this year, I was rooting for Big Green. I’ll now be cruel to a fine sport by saying the Eagles’ defeat leaves me teamless – and not in Seattle, either. However, a close buddy is a fervid Los Angeles fan, so I might as well do some Left Coast cheering for the Rams. Besides, they have something of a link to our area, via the shared “Rams” nickname, i.e. the Southern Regional High School Rams.

Along local sports lines, I just got my new number “19” Martin Truex Jr.’s long-sleeved NASCAR shirt. The 2017 world champ is now with Joe Gibbs Racing, holder of upper-shelf racing teams. I’ll keep the shirt under wraps until the iconic Daytona 500 fires off in a few weeks.

Martin’s new-team Toyota Camry will now bear a “19” where the famed “78” had triumphantly resided. Outside the number swap, the car’s overall color scheme and stand-out sponsor decals will be identical to his Furniture Row ride. An angler thumbs-up to Bass Pro Shops, which is sticking with Martin, a fanatical angler. In fact, Martin is often photographed fishing, usually to calm down prior to upcoming 200-mph races. So, what is the perfect pre-Daytona 500 plug? Forget any spinners!

I’m more than ready for the 2019 NASCAR season. As football wanes, I need some new viewing. How hard up am I? On cold nights, I’m turning to the likes of “In Vivo” Mexican soccer/futbol. Yes, I even resort to soccer watching when outdoorsing is hibernating. Of course, I might be going too far. I can now identify, by sight, teams playing in German “Bundesliga” matches. Was passiert mit mir? (What is happening to me?)

GROIN GROWTH: From now through spring, I get frequent communiques asking how the Island’s beaches are faring. Well, barring any ravenous storms – knock on driftwood – it seems much of the Island’s eastside should remain sandily sweet. The beaches are peaches, wide and wonderfully winterful – or maybe that’s winterfully wonderful.

Hey, I’ll have you know that many souls love LBI in the winter. So there. Of course, I’m not even remotely one of them. In my shiver-hating case, and for sanity’s sake, I frequently head south in the off season … all the way down to Holgate. Admittedly, when I go far enough south, past the Rip, I’m heading back north again. There’s likely a profound meaning in there somewhere.

Which brings me to the only sour beachline note. The Holgate City front beach remains cliffed out and badly eaten away. To its south, Holgate Beach and the adjacent Forsythe Refuge have their own wearisome sand situation, especially the northmost section – which is an impressively wide stretch of unvegetated sand flats extending from ocean to bay. Those desolate flats (see photo) are low enough to allow the sea and bay to exchange foam during unusually high tides. Such getting-to-know-yas are not good for future Island solidarity.

Keeping those nagging sand situations in tow, we move to the big beach news for this year: the soon arriving Great Terminal Groin of Holgate – until a better name is devised. It will go where the well-named “Wooden Jetty” now hangs amazingly tough against the elements, though not tough enough to prevent precious replenishment sand from zipping past it … and southward, eventually migrating onto shoals off Little Egg Inlet.

For those who haven’t heard the Great Terminal Groin details, it will begin with 163 sheets of steel, the cost of which has already been bonded by Long Beach Township. The interlocking steel sheets are 22.5 inches wide and 40 feet long. A vibratory hammer piling machine will drive each steel sheet 30 feet into the sand. The tops of driven sheets will extend about 10 feet above the sand line for the first 160 feet and 8 feet above for the last 145 feet. The steel sheet groin, when all the pieces are snugly interlocked side-by-side, parallel to the existing “Wooden Jetty,” will extend out to sea for 305 linear feet, pretty much the length of a football field.

When done, approximately 112,150 cubic yards of (likely) locally mined sand will be trucked in, placed from Roosevelt Avenue south-southwest some 1,250 feet, to the terminal groin. The fill would cover an area of 12.38 acres, of which 7.93 acres would be placed below mean high water line. This is somewhat similar to beach replenishment templates followed during the federal Barnegat Inlet to Little Egg Inlet Coastal Storm Risk Management beach replenishment project, though the Great Groin is an in-state effort.

I’ve mulled over the final look – and feel – of the groin, based on other steel sheet barriers placed around the nation. The method is being used more and more, including – dare I touch it? – already existing border walls down Old Mexico way. Despite its hoped-for sand-holding functionality, the Great Groin of Holgate won’t be the comeliest thing the Island has ever seen gracing its beaches – though its more seeable north-facing side should be flush with piled-up sand. It will surely look quite wall-esque where it extends into the water.

It’s possible that the 8- to 10-foot-high sheet tops will all show, west-to-east, across the beach, truly taking on the look of the Great Groin of Holgate. Making lemonade, that sounds like quite the tourist-attraction. “Mommy, take a picture of me and the Great Groin of Holgate.” Forwardly thinking, maybe the groin can be extended indefinitely westward and become a second line of defense – you know, should the Mexican Wall fail. “Retreat! Our only hope now is our Great Groin!” On-the-moves immigrants be thinking, "Their what!?"

Closer to reality, the groin sheets will likely stem the southward flow of replenishment sands. And the trickle-down effects on the refuge-adjacent beaches to the south? That has become a beachside-prattle bone of contention among locals. I’ve buddied up to a segment of society that worries the beaches below the groin will be sand starved and begin shriveling up. More-radical groin critics predict a new inlet will form just south of the parking area, where an inlet has formed a couple times in written history.

Authorities have countered beach starvation fears by assuring there will be some sand passing around and over the more easterly portion of the groin. Will it be enough to satiate refuge beaches on the leeward side? Ideally, yes. And we all live sandily ever after.

For some nagging reason, though, I’m not banking on a perfect sand balance being achieved on the first groin go-round. Neither are the experts. They’re harboring follow-up action in the form of a contingency plan to “notch” the terminal groin by strategically removing some of its backbone-ish steel sheets, thus enhancing southward sand migration. I see it coming down to a massive groin-based, beach-sand balancing game. I’ll hereby volunteer to watch the telltale needle on the big beach-balance beam. “OK, give me a couple thousand cubic yards of sand to the south, please. … OK, a touch more … steady … ”

Much more on the Great Terminal Groin of Holgate in many a coming column.

jaymann@thesandpaper.net

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