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Hurricane Irma creates new island off Georgia coast: See it

Dalia Ibrahim
Digital Reporter

Friday, January 19, 2018, 1:53 PM - When Hurricane Irma -- the fourth hurricane and second major hurricane of the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season – raked the U.S. Southeast coastline in September 2017, it not only inflicted millions of dollars in damage, it also created an island.

The new island was spotted off the Georgia coast. It formed when the storm – by then a tropical depression -- shifted the channel off Blackbeard Creek and took out part of a narrow finger of land that extended from Blackbeard Island south toward Sapelo Island, according to Marguerite Madden, head of the University of Georgia’s Center for Geospatial Studies, via Athens Banner-Herald

An image taken by a drone on Sept. 28 (see below) confirmed the new islands existence. It measures at about 100 acres, according to estimates by Fred Hay, Sapelo Island manager for the state Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division. 

Scientists fittingly dubbed the island Little Blackbeard, since it was formed from federally-owned and protected Blackbeard Island. Blackbeard Island itself is about 5,600 acres, and Sapelo is nearly 16,500 acres, the report added.

Tommy Jordan and Marguerite Madden of the University of Georgia’s Center for Geospatial Research used a drone Sept. 28 to capture this image of the new island created two weeks earlier by Hurricane Irma off the Georgia coast. (Photo: Tommy Jordan/Marguerite Madden via University of Georgia Center for Geospatial Studies).

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Because of the direction of currents off the Georgia coast, its coastal islands change continually, eroding on their north ends, building up on the southern ends, Hay told the Athens Banner-Herald. But a big force such as a hurricane can dramatically speed up that natural process, he explained.

Click play to watch below: Island locator

But whether or not the island sticks around, remains to be seen.

“It’s really changing the currents coming in there,” Madden told the Athens Banner-Herald.

At recent Southern Forestry and Natural Resource Management GIS Conference in Athens, Madden told scientists that Little Blackbeard could eventually become part of Sapelo Island as movement continues with the new barrier island.

Source: Athens Banner-Herald | Wikipedia 

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