FOLLY BEACH — New erosion has added to the island's post-storm woes, and more shoreline scouring could be on the way this weekend.
The forecast calls for the possibility of moderate flooding, isolated tornados and tropical storm-force winds of at least 40 mph for the southeastern part of the state.
A storm heading north into the Gulf of Mexico strengthened Wednesday and is forecast to push rains and wind across South Carolina with the worst of the weather happening Sunday into Monday, forecasters said.
That's bad news for area beaches still recovering from Irma.
At Folly, the beach near the pier has "scarping." It drops off a foot or more close to the sea. Three days of steady northeast winds and strong surf played a role.
"Any setback right now is bigger than it would be otherwise just because of what we just went through," said Mayor Tim Goodwin.
Tropical Storm Irma caused severe erosion when it hit in mid-September. Dunes from the east to the west end of the island were reduced or destroyed. Goodwin said the beach loss was worse than from Hurricane Matthew a year ago.
The Army Corps of Engineers has a $10 million project pending to restore sand and dunes that Matthew stole on the east end of the island. A contract for that work will likely be awarded in December. New sand for the federally funded project will come from the Folly River.
Some 18,000 dump truck loads of river sand will be placed on 26 acres of beach between 8th Street East and 14th Street East. In addition, a $3 million effort to repair timber erosion control structures in that area will be done with the cost split between the city and state.
"The rest of the beach didn't qualify after Matthew," he said. "That's why we're waiting on the Irma numbers after the survey to come in."
The Corps recently surveyed the beach post-Irma, and its findings will determine whether Folly qualifies for another full renourishment before the next one currently scheduled in 2021, Goodwin said.
The Corps used an ATV outfitted with laser technology to gather data on the condition of the beach. Results of the beach survey will be available in a few months.
"We have to analyze it and then send it to our headquarters for their concurrence," said spokeswoman Glenn Jeffries.
A $30 million project to restore the entire beach was completed three years ago.
In addition, the city beach walkovers took a hit from Irma, and the ones in the worst shape are closed. City Council will consider a plan to restore the boardwalks that provide public beach access.
"It's going to take awhile," Goodwin said.
Work on the federally funded "mini-renourishment" on the east end of the island between 8th and 14th streets could begin in January if the Corps receives an acceptable proposal from a contractor, Jeffries said.
The project would pump 550,000 cubic yards of sand onto the beach and some on nearby Bird Key. It will wrap up before May, barring any significant weather or mechanical issues, she said.
Like Folly, both Isle of Palms and Edisto Beach were affected by major erosion from Irma, but those islands did not report any significant new sand loss in recent days.
IOP Mayor Dick Cronin said the northeast winds and surf slowed an ongoing project to restore dunes between Breach Inlet and 10th Avenue.
"The tides and wave action have given us less time on the beach," he said.
IOP City Council recently voted 7-2 to award an $11.8 million contract to dredge sand at sea and pump it ashore to repair about 1.5 miles of beach, from 53rd Avenue to Dewees Inlet. The amount of sand needed for the project is about 75,000 dump truck loads.
Edisto Beach had completed a $17 million beach renourishment a few months before Irma came ashore and obliterated newly created 5-foot dunes and buried the town's main road under about 30 inches of sand. But much of that sand was sifted and put back on the beach.
Mayor Jane Darby said any new erosion from weather the past few days has been very minor.
"It's going much better," she said.