Cape Cod's east-facing beaches lose an average of one foot per year to advancing seas. The Blizzard which pelted the Cape with 35 foot seas, two high-tide cycles and winds gusting to 80 miles per hour last weekend, washed away ten to 25 years of Cape Cod beach in just two days.
Up and down the Cape Cod National Seashore, officials are surveying the damage and finding roads and portions of parking lots washed away, steps suspended in the air and houses on the verge of sliding down the bluffs.
Cape Cod Bay faces north and erosion on those beaches is estimated at ten feet, or ten years of damage. Only southern beaches on Nantucket Sound were spared the brutal assault from nature.
Officials expressed optimism that coastal currents will restore some of the sand in the summer, but it won't be enough to build up the foundations of roads and homes.
It's a very different shoreline than what Henry David Thoreau discovered in the 19th century. Much of the marshland and peat bogs left behind by the glaciers lead to a more gradual approach to the surf as Thoreau walked the entire length of the Cape.
With ocean levels rising, one geologist said the good news is "someday everyone on Cape Cod will have waterfront property". That isn't much comfort to the thousands of oceanfront property owners who never thought the sea would meet them at the door so quickly.
WCVB-TV took an ariel tour of the coastline this week. Some of the photos from Eastham and Wellfleet are included below. And to see a report by Jack Harper, click here.