A September surfin’ safari

Beaches hopping during better-late-than-never summer


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This weekend's weather is brought to you by the letter B -- as in beaches, bikinis, beefcake, barbecues, beer and blazing (hot sun).

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/09/2009 (4941 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

This weekend’s weather is brought to you by the letter B — as in beaches, bikinis, beefcake, barbecues, beer and blazing (hot sun).

Manitoba’s finest-tuned bodies are often covered by jeans and long-sleeved T-shirts during the third week of September but they were in their glory at Grand Beach Saturday afternoon.

Shortly after midday, the beach was a rainbow of bathing suits, towels and beach umbrellas as a band belted out surf music from a nearby patio.

Nikki LaFleche, 20, and Jordan Hack, 26, didn’t get nearly enough beach time in June, July and August so they decided to make the trek to the province’s most popular summer resort from Stonewall.

“I should be studying right now but it’s too beautiful out,” said LaFleche, a sociology student at the University of Manitoba. “Usually I’ll have been on the beach for 20 or more days but this summer, I’ve only been out five or six times.”

Hack said Saturday was the first time he’s felt sand between his toes this year.

“This is the most packed I’ve ever seen Grand Beach on any summer day. It’s been brutal all summer except for the last couple of weeks,” he said.

The mercury hit 30 C in Winnipeg on Saturday, just shy of the 31.2 C record set in 2004. More of basically the same is expected today, albeit with some winds at 30 km/h gusting to 50 km/h, with a forecast high of 25 C.

The incredible run of sun will likely come to an end on Monday when a 60 per cent chance of showers should drag the high down to 18 C. But clear skies and above-average temperatures are expected to return on Tuesday and continue for the rest of the week.

Saturday’s influx of unexpected traffic was a sight for sorry cash registers, too. Weather-dependent businesses took it on the chin all summer as cool and wet weather kept day-trippers away in droves.

Joe Potenza, president of Grand Beach Management Services, which runs the concession stands and the Surf Club bar, usually closes things down after the Labour Day long weekend but he was willing to make an exception this weekend.

“This is the busiest Grand Beach has been in September in 25 years. I’ve never seen this,” he said, surveying a patio full of sun-soaked customers. “This weather is beautiful and it was needed. When it’s 20 degrees with a north wind, it feels like it’s 15 degrees. That’s not beach weather. It’s tough when you see five grand evaporate because it’s raining every day.”

Potenza started calling servers and bartenders on Wednesday to ensure he could at least staff the patio. Sunday could be his last day for the season, though.

“Unless it continues,” he said with a laugh.

Pat Lewyc, owner of the Hula Hut, said while traffic in her shop didn’t compare to a smoking-hot day in July, business was relatively brisk Saturday.

“We’re trying to make up for (the bad weather). It’s a nice little boost, a nice surprise. Grand Beach is normally empty at this time of year. There’s usually a couple of cottagers who come down to the beach to enjoy the solitude. There would never be a band playing,” she said, as a customer perused T-shirts on a half-price rack.

“It’s nice to see happy people. Most of the summer, people were cranky,” she said.


Tale of the temps

HERE’S how the average temperatures over the last week compare to the highs the same days in July and August on the lake in Gimli:

Average high July 13-19: 19.75 C

Average high Aug. 13-19: 20.04 C

Average high Sept.13-19: 26.14 C

Average high Sept. 13-19, 2008: 18.0 C

— Source: Environment Canada

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