Low temps and high winds chilled Memorial Day plans, especially at the beach

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LONG ISLAND -- Many people choose to go to the beach on Memorial Day, but lower than normal temperatures and high winds kept most people away this year.

The weather was so cold that people talked about it in terms more closely identified with winter, even though the holiday marks the unofficial beginning of summer.

The scene at Jones Beach clearly showed the situation. All across the sand were dozens and dozens of trash cans. Usually, the beach is so crowded on Memorial Day that all of the cans set up by the park authorities get filled, fast. Not so this year. Just like the beach itself, the cans never came close to filling up. In fact, most of them remained empty all day.

It was a sharp contrast to Saturday. As the Jones Beach Lifeguard Patrol pointed out on social media, the beachside crowd was 194,000 strong.

At any given time on the same beach on Monday, there were just a couple hundred people.

There was similar emptiness at Robert Moses State Park, and beachgoer Nella Zubchmko's outfit summed up the reason for the contrast. She was wearing a parka on top of a hooded sweatshirt, and she drank hot coffee, as she strolled near the surf.

"Sometimes, I'm freezing," she told PIX11 News.

Monday was obviously one of those times.

The few surfers and paddleboarders who did show up at the beach were covered head to toe in wetsuits, out of necessity.

"This is a relatively thinner wetsuit," said Brad Hepworth, a Robert Moses State Beach lifeguard who'd spent his lunch hour paddle boarding in the surf. "My toes are numb."

Paul Brendel was also at Robert Moses to go paddle boarding. He explained why he had to cover his body in his wetsuit.

"It's just pretty hard to stay out [in the water] for any length of time without some thermal protection," he said.

"Thermal protection" is a phrase often used to describe long underwear. Nonetheless, it was appropriate at Tri-state beaches on Memorial Day, considering that in the sea breeze, the high temperature was in the upper 50s -- the same as the average low temperature for May 28.

Perhaps there's consolation in that the record low for the date, set in 1961, is 39 degrees.

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