The Wrath of Hercules

The megastorm left devastation in its wake

When Winter Storm Hercules struck Western Europe the first week of January, it wasn’t all about giant perfect surf at Belharra and Mullaghmore. Many coastal communities in the U.K. bore the brunt of the storm’s rage, and it will take years to recover. In some places, the coastline was permanently altered. Dorset’s Pom Pom Rock, a well-known geological landmark, was completely obliterated by storm surf. Porthcothan Bay, in Cornwall, was smashed by waves so big they destroyed a famous rock arch that weighed thousands of tons. Cornwall’s Fistral Beach, long-considered the capital of English surfing, saw its beach bar blown up by the huge surf. What’s possibly worse for the English coastline is what may be coming down the pipe. “In some cases, the shoreline was moved 150 meters up the beach,” said Plymouth University Marine Sciences Professor Mark Davidson, “with the sea hitting parts of the coast that have never been wet before, or at least not for a very long time.” Meaning that huge swaths of the coast near Cornwall are primed for landslides and further erosion.

BeachBar_Sharpy
The Fistral Beach Bar, a landmark of British surfing, took Hercules right in the teeth. Photo: Roger Sharp
The anchor arch in Porthcothan, Cornwall: After.
Dorset’s Pom Pom Rock: Before. Photo: BNPS
Dorset's Pom Pom Rock: Before. Photo: BNPS
Dorset’s Pom Pom Rock: After. Just gone. Photo: BNPS
The anchor arch in Porthcothan, Cornwall: Before.
The anchor arch in Porthcothan, Cornwall: Before. Photo: BNPS
The anchor arch in Porthcothan, Cornwall: Before.
The anchor arch in Porthcothan, Cornwall: After. Eons to make it, one storm to destroy it. Photo: BNPS