SIGN OF THE TIMES: Shelly Beach takes a battering as gale force winds hit the North Coast.
SIGN OF THE TIMES: Shelly Beach takes a battering as gale force winds hit the North Coast. Doug Eaton

Beaches battered by huge swells

STRONG winds, heavy seas and high tides have combined to cause destruction on North Coast beaches.

The situation on the beaches is expected to worsen this morning, before easing off after midday.

Yesterday beaches were hammered by 6m seas, with an easterly swell of about 4m.

The swell is expected to decrease to 2-3m late this morning and the sea will also decrease to 2m by early evening.

Despite continued warnings for people to stay at home, many ventured to coastal lookouts to see the roaring ocean.

This is the third time in 12 months that North Coast beaches have been battered and Ballina Environment Society spokesman Lee Andresen said that if there was another depression again soon, it could have major impacts.

"An enormous amount of sand is being shifted because of the strength of the wind and the angle of the wind, which at first came from the east and then the north," he said.

"We get sand drift at the edges of the beach because the vegetation is getting covered by sand.

"We are wondering if we are in for something like what we had in the mid-1970s - a recession of the beaches.

"That is something that could happen if we get another depression coming through within the next couple of weeks.

"The Richmond River would definitely suffer; we could see fish kills."

Hot spots for erosion include Seven Mile Beach at Lennox Head, Lighthouse Beach at Ballina and Belongil.

The carpark near the Lennox Head/Alstonville Surf Life Saving Club was covered in sand yesterday, and sand was being blown over the dune in a number of places along Pacific Pde at Lennox Head.

Meanwhile the Bureau of Meteorology is still advising that large swells could break dangerously close inshore.

Wind gusts were also causing havoc yesterday.

Gusts of more than 100kmh were reported at Cape Byron, and more than 80kmh at Ballina.

Ballina SES unit controller, Gerry Burnage said the wind was "dangerous" and had hampered their efforts to respond to calls for help.

Roads and Maritime Services issued an alert yesterday calling on skippers and owners of boats to avoid any boating activity, particularly if it involved crossing a bar or heading offshore.

"Strong winds can also mean dangerous conditions for vessels on moorings which have been poorly maintained," an RMS spokesperson said.

"Vessels should be prepared in advance for adverse weather, attempting to secure vessels in strong wind can be extremely dangerous.

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