Norton Point and Wasque beaches have been temporarily closed after tropical storm Isaias swept past the Vineyard Tuesday afternoon, erasing oversand vehicle trails and eroding shorelines with extreme tides and high winds.

“Tropical Storm Isaias left us with a mess,” said a release from The Trustees of Reservations, which owns Wasque and manages the beach at Norton Point. “The storm’s initial winds from the southeast carved off a large section of Wasque Point and took the OSV [oversand vehicle] trail out to sea. OSV access is impossible around Wasque Point. Vehicles can drive south on Leland Beach and park opposite the rip, but travel around the corner has been temporarily closed.”

The storm arrived Tuesday afternoon, traveling north through central and western New England before tracking toward Canada by the evening. Although the brunt of the storm missed the Vineyard, southeastern Massachusetts saw strong, 40 to 60 mph winds, battering south-facing beaches.

Early Wednesday morning, a sign was posted at the entrance to Norton Point from the left fork, saying that the beach had been closed due to extreme weather. The release from The Trustees later in the day spelled out the damage.

“Later in the evening [Tuesday] at Norton Point the high winds out of the SSW heavily overwashed most of this south-facing beach, flooded interior trails and sliced the oceanfront OSV trail away in several sections,” the release says. “We will assess both locations again later today and tomorrow [Thursday], once the high surf recedes but presently the flow of moving water over the outside beach makes it too hazardous for rangers to work until later today or tomorrow.”

High waves and strong rip currents sprayed seas up to the dunes Tuesday evening at South Beach, forcing lifeguards and beach managers to shore up wooden monitoring stands.

The Steamship Authority routed all traffic through Vineyard Haven and cancelled boats throughout the afternoon Tuesday. Other transportation agencies also issued warnings.

Although a tornado warning was issued for southern New England, it was later downgraded.

A high surf advisory remains in effect until 6 p.m. Wednesday evening, with the National Weather Service is predicting large breaking waves of four to eight feet in the surf zone for Dukes County.

“We will update you as soon as we are able to reopen portions of the beach,” the Trustees wrote.

Home page picture by Ray Ewing.