sea foam

Sea foam gathers like a heavy snow in front of the Avalon Pier on Monday.

KILL DEVIL HILLS, N.C.

Sea foam gathered like bloating cotton candy along the Outer Banks early Monday.

The white, fluffy froth piled along the front door of Avalon Pier in Kill Devil Hills like a snowstorm. Puffs of the stuff fluttered around in the 20 to 30 mile per hour winds.

“It moved like jello,” said Cindy Walton, who works at the pier. “You got slimed going in.”

On the Currituck County Outer Banks, foam gathered several feet deep and covered vehicles passing through it.

“I have never seen foam like this before,” said long-time resident Kimberlee Hoey. “It was horrible.”

The foam was too deep and dangerous to drive through before sunrise Monday morning, she said. Hoey had to wait hours before driving on a sliver of beach near the dunes where it was not so deep. A truck that went traveled through the accumulation was covered above its hood with what looked like cotton candy, she said.

Currituck Outer Banks residents drive frequently on the beach to get to where the pavement of N.C. 12 begins north of Corolla.

Winds blew steadily above 30 miles per hour with gusts up to 50 miles per hour early Monday whipping up the waves, according to the National Weather Service.

Sea foam forms when winds and waves shake up the dissolved salts, proteins, fats and other material, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Most sea foam is not harmful and can be an indication of a healthy ecosystem.

Jeff Hampton, 252-491-5272, jeff.hampton@pilotonline.com

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