Posted October 17, 2019
In our recent report on the 40th anniversary of Hurricane Frederic, much of the focus was the storm’s impact on the large dunes that existed on Pensacola Beach at the time.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at the formation and importance of coastal dunes, ongoing threats, and efforts to grow and stabilize them.
Prior to Hurricane Frederic’s landfall in 1979, long-time residents Mike Aymond and Terry Preston recalled large formations in the mainly undeveloped areas.
“At that time, you wouldn’t see the Gulf or the Sound in many cases, or the bay, on either side as you drove down because the dunes were so large,” said Aymond.
“The dunes, especially down Fort Pickens Road, were huge; I mean two, three, four stories high, beautiful. It was amazing,” added Preston.
Dr. Phillip Schmutz is an expert in coastal geomorphology, focusing on the formation of dunes.
“Two main factors are vegetation, coastal vegetation and wind,” said Schmutz, an assistant professor in the University of West Florida Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.