Packery Channel Monitoring Program
Summary: Packery Channel was once a closed natural tidal (ephemeral) inlet located in the southeast corner of Corpus Christi Bay at the North Padre Island/Mustang Island boundary. Packery Channel has become, along with Newport Pass and Corpus Christi Pass, a complex system of storm-washover channels along North Padre Island. Packery Channel connected Corpus Christi Bay to the Gulf of Mexico prior to the 1912 dredging of the 12-ft deep Aransas Pass Inlet at Port Aransas (Price 1947). Although the existing channel from the Highway 361 bridge to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway was navigable, the approximately 3,000 ft section of the channel that once cut across Mustang Island has remained closed (excluding temporary openings by storms) from the late 1930s until July 5, 2005.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) implemented plans to dredge the historic channel between the existing narrow channel and the Gulf of Mexico. Official ground breaking ceremonies were conducted in September 2003, followed by mobilization and construction activities in October 2003. The channel remained closed until the storm surge associated with Hurricane Emily eliminated an approximately 300-ft wide plug of sand that formed the barrier between the newly dredged channel and the Gulf of Mexico. The narrow channel remained open and navigable. Dredging resumed in January 2006 to allow barge access and facilitate construction activities and inlet construction was completed in October 2006.
The Conrad Blucher Institute’s Packery Channel Monitoring Program is tasked with monitoring the channel dynamics at seasonal intervals in the support of research-based management by the City of Corpus Christi.
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The Packery Channel Monitoring Program was initiated by CBI during the summer of 2003. This baseline study was conducted in anticipation of construction activities. The monitoring program was initially sponsored by the Galveston District USACE and the Coastal Inlets Research Program (CIRP), including the Coastal Hydraulics Laboratory (CHL). Monitoring has continued at seasonal intervals in the support of Research-based management by the City of Corpus Christi since the City assumed sponsorship in 2008.