Surfers have been warned about braving the waters near Lahinch beach in Co Clare, as hundreds of tonnes of sand have been stripped from the coastline leaving them in danger of being slammed into bare rocks by changed currents.
Recent storms have stripped over 3ft of sand from the beach, exposing large sections of rock on the southern end of the strand and causing the tide to come in more quickly.
The sand shift, coupled will large flood waters from the nearby Inagh River, has also drastically changed the way the rip currents operate at Lahinch.
Hundreds of surfers travel to Lahinch each weekend throughout winter, and they are warned to be vigilant and seek advice from locals before entering the water.
“People should be aware that the beach is not as it normally is. They should try and look at beach at low tide to see were the rocks are and how the currents are working,” said Ben Bennett of Ben’s Surf Clinic.
“There is also now a greater chance of getting cut off at the [northern] end of the beach, because the tide comes in a lot faster these days and there is no easy path up over the rocks, because the old path has been pulled away by the storms.”
Flood waters form the Inagh River are colliding with tidal surging to create powerful new currents and rip tides throughout Liscannor Bay.
As the Lahinch lifeguard station is not manned in winter, visiting surfers are urged to speak to locals before entering the water.
“A huge amount of sand has been washed away. It is natural for the sand to move around a little, especially in the winter time, and it is then built back by the tide. This year is different because of all the storms that we have had in quick succession. So I just don’t know if it [the sand] will come back,” said Debbie Green of Green Room Surf School.
“The safest spot to go at the moment is usually right in front of the lifeguard hut — there is usually people there all the time so people are looking out for each other. If they haven’t surfed Lahinch for awhile, your best bet is to come up to one of the surf schools and have a chat with someone because the beach has changed so much. We are here all the time and we will generally know where is safe and where isn’t.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved