'Mother Nature' keeping cars off beach, walkways closed at high tide

Officials using precautions because of effects from nor'easter-like conditions

By Vic Micolucci - I-TEAM reporter, anchor

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - Nor’easter-like conditions have caused St. Johns County officials to close some beach access walkways and stop letting cars drive on the beach.

The restrictions began Sunday because of higher-than-normal high tides and rough surf, which are expected to last several more days.

The conditions are making the waves larger, much to the delight of surfers. But those conditions are causing concern for officials because of:

  • High surf
  • Extremely high tides
  • Dangerous currents 
  • Strong winds

The high tide was noticeable Monday morning, because it swallowed up most of the beach, pushing many sunbathers back up against the dunes.

“I have been here a lot of times, and the beach is different today,” said Dewan Montigny, who was visiting Ponte Vedra Beach from Arizona. “This whole section was water.”

Erosion has been a big problem on St. Johns County’s beaches, ever since hurricanes Matthew and Irma came through. The beaches lost a lot of sand, and nor’easters continue to make the problems of erosion even worse.

“There’s probably at least 10 to 15 feet that has eroded. The dunes are definitely cut off,” Ponte Vedra Beach resident Kim Barkyoumb said.

County officials stopped allowing vehicles on the beach and they’re closing pedestrian walkways at high tides.  

But the conditions didn’t stop people from enjoying the sunshine and cool breezes. Mickler’s Landing was packed Monday afternoon.

“It is just Mother Nature,” Barkyoumb said. “Every day is different. You never know what you’re going to get.”

Officials said the rough conditions will continue until Thursday. The next high tide is around 10 p.m. Monday.

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