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Images: To Catch a Hurricane

As Hurricane Irene approached Cape Cod in August 2011, scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution wanted to record how sand and sediment is transported during storms. They made devices using ladies’ nylon stockings. Leah Fine (left), an undergraduate Summer Student Fellow, and WHOI postdoctoral investigator Andrea Hawkes install their makeshift sand-catchers on signs and telephones along the barrier beach on Surf Drive in Woods Hole. (Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Meanwhile, another WHOI postodoctoral fellow, Pete van Hengstum, deployed sediment traps made out of soda bottles to measure sediment transported by the storm into ponds behind barrier beaches. (Ken Kostel, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Hurrying to make their sediment traps in the days before Hurricane Irene approached, “we put a lot of soda down the drain,” van Hengstum joked. (Courtesy of Peter van Hengstum, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Sand and sediment from the beach, mobilized by storm surges and winds, piled onto Surf Drive during the storm, which was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm by the time it reached Cape Cod. (Courtesy of Andrea Hawkes, Woods Hole Oceanographic Instituion)

The scientists installed 30 sand-catchers along the beach and 30 more sediment traps in shoreline ponds. The humble devices worked well, collecting the data scientist that quantified how much sand is transported by a tropical storm. (Michael Toomey and Richard Sullivan, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)