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Warm days, cool water are ahead - The Galveston County Daily News : Columns

November 27, 2014

On the Beach Warm days, cool water are ahead

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Posted: Friday, March 21, 2014 12:15 am

Finally, spring feels like it’s just around the corner. After the long, long winter, there’s finally that feeling in the air.

The cold is still there but doesn’t seem to penetrate all the way to your bones; and even if it’s cold in the morning, you’re able to get by with a thin layer or just a T-shirt by the afternoon.

The water, however, doesn’t seem to know that it’s time for winter to relinquish its grasp. On Tuesday, we did a beach workout and were still wearing full suits and hoods, although boots and gloves weren’t necessary.

The water temp was 58. Warmer air temperature means that people on stand up paddleboards have been surfing with either just a wetsuit top or even “bare backing” it while people surfing prone are still in full winter gear.

The spring breakers were undaunted by the cold water, though. Each time the sun popped out or the wind died, they suddenly appeared all over the beach. The first volleyball tournament of the season went off well at Stewart Beach.

The lifeguards, shivering in their towers, had to move a number of them away from the rip currents near the jetties. There were, however, some days where it was just too cold to put the guards in the towers in the mornings.

Fortunately, we kept a number of them on standby knowing that the afternoon would warm up and as soon as the sun popped out, hundreds of people suddenly would show up.

It seems like there were lots of people here on the island hanging out in restaurants, hotel rooms, at The Strand or at one of our many tourist attractions waiting for that ray of sunshine so they could hit the beach.

This weekend is the last of spring break. It will be safe to drive down the seawall for a short time until summer is really upon us. No one will meander across the lanes in front of you with speeds varying between 5 mph and 45 mph.

No one will pull a U-turn, almost hit you then post up by a potential parking space, unashamedly blocking traffic, while five people take 20 minutes to load two chairs and a cooler into the back of their vehicle.

But enjoy it while it lasts, because soon it will be time to retreat to the “secret” way you have to move around the interior of the island.

This weekend, the Houston schools and a handful of colleges are at the end of their spring break, and the weather forecast looks pretty good, so we may see those big crowds we’ve been expecting.

As it stands thus far, the Galveston Island Beach Patrol has only made one rescue. It was a good one though. We, with the help of our police, fire and Emergency Medical Services partners, saved a father and daughter from drifting offshore on a really cold north wind day. They likely wouldn’t have survived if someone hadn’t had the good sense to call 911.

And so it begins.