Rain, Rain, Drove Away Jersey Shore Summer Crowds

On a sun-drenched Friday, sunbathers dotted the beach in Holgate. (Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

OCEAN COUNTY – The summer of 2017 was a wet one. The rain’s exact impacts on New Jersey’s $40 billion tourism industry won’t be known until next March, but “The greatest challenge in Summer 2017 has been the weather,” Dana Lancellotti, director of Ocean County Business Development & Tourism, told Jersey Shore Online.

“We had key tourism weekends—Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day—all affected by rain and/or very discouraging forecasts. Reports vary depending on the town/region of the county and the attractions,” she said.

According to data compiled by NJ Weather & Climate Network, part of Rutgers University, it rained all but four summer season weekends, Friday through Sunday, in Seaside Heights, including Memorial and Labor Day weekends. The Fourth of July weekend was spared there.

It rained in Point Pleasant Fourth of July weekend on July 1 and 2, but otherwise was clear the same weekends as Seaside Heights, according to the network’s data.

Jonathan Carr of Weather NJ explained why this summer has been so wet. It was a mix of situations, including jet stream patterns, a weak La Nina system, and low pressures. “This is why I feel summer of 2017 was wetter than summer of 2016 when we were coming out of an El Niño colder season.”

Carr’s data revealed a wetter-than-average May and August but drier June and July.

“Jenkinson’s Boardwalk and Seaside Heights seemed to suffer significantly from weather forecasts that over-estimated the impact of any dark clouds that may be on the radar,” Lancellotti shared. “Ultimately, scaring people away for the whole weekend when we ended up with rain for only an hour or so. Very difficult science!”

Couples and groups of friends walked the Jenkinson’s Boardwalk. (Photo by Jennifer Peacock)

Despite the weather at the Jersey Shore, Lancellotti said its tourism season was still strong. Hotels in Southern Ocean County saw increases over last year, as did hotels in the northern part of the county, although weekday business was slower than on the weekends. She added that trends show weekends are expanding in places like Lavallette, where tourists arrived on Thursdays rather than Friday, and on Long Beach Island, which saw tourists arrive Wednesday, a “newer trend.”

Lancellotti added that while the weather kept Blue Claws fans away, Six Flags Great Adventure had a record year with more than 600,000 passes sold.

Summer tourism in Ocean County alone is a $4.7 billion industry, and has seen a steady increase since Superstorm Sandy, which hit New Jersey Oct. 29, 2012. Tourism revenue that year was $4.2 billion, according to figures provided by the state. Even after Sandy, coupled with a cooler Spring and federal government shutdown that year, visitor spending had a 1.3 percent increase in 2013.

Jersey Shore Online reached out to several local businesses, including Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach, Fantasy Island in Beach Haven, and a Seaside Heights official for comment on their summer seasons pre- and post-Sandy. They did not respond by press time.

Information on tourism in Ocean County can be found at OceanCountyTourism.com.