NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — A rainy summer is putting a damper on tourists’ and locals’ plans to head to the beach.
“Usually I live at the beach, but I don’t know,” said Madison Miller, who lives in South Kingstown. “The weather’s kind of deterring me a little bit.”
She and her boyfriend had plans to go to Block Island for her last week before grad school, but that had to change because of the weather.
“I need like 90 degrees, and I need to feel the heat to reward myself with the saltwater,” Miller said.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) reports a 7% drop in visits to state beaches compared to last year.
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Beach attendance was down to 27% in June, but an increase in visitors in July closed the gap. The DEM hopes more people go to the beach by Labor Day to reach the state’s goal of a million visitors this summer. (Data provided by the RI DEM)
“That’s all weather related,” said DEM spokesperson Mike Healey. “It’s yucky, and people don’t want to go to the beach.”
Not only is it cooler than usual, the 12 News Pinpoint Weather Team reports 8.37 inches of rain fell in the Providence area in July. Some spots saw even heavier rain, and runoff may have caused some bacteria and waste to wash onto the beach.
“When that bacteria gets into the water, it makes it dangerous to swim,” said Joseph Wendelken, a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Health.
The Department of Health says it’s had to close more beaches to swimming this summer compared to the last several years. As of Wednesday, people in Rhode Island has lost 213 beach days compared to 170 last summer. Each beach closed counts as a single beach day, so numbers will be higher when officials close several beaches.
Data from previous years show Rhode Island hasn’t lost over 200 beach days since 2009.
Wendelken said numbers of beach closures have been steadily decreasing thanks to measures several towns and cities have taken to reduce the amount of storm water that flows into the beaches.
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The Department of Health is constantly testing water for bacteria, with the most popular beaches being screened at least once a week. If a high amount of bacteria is found, the state shuts down the beach and test the water daily until it’s safe to swim in again.
However, some tourists aren’t letting the weather stop them from enjoying the water at open beaches.
“The kids love to play in the sand,” said Tara Williams, who was visiting Narragansett from Boston. “They like to watch the boats, and there’s so much good food around. We decided to still come on down and enjoy the time as much as we can play.”
Her two younger daughters agreed, and excitedly mentioned that they couldn’t wait to jump into the water.