By Donald Wittkowski
On any given day, the summer weather at the Jersey Shore can be dramatically different than the weather two hours away in the Philadelphia region, where Sea Isle City draws many of its tourists.
Worried about the negative impact on tourism, Sea Isle business leaders are increasingly dismayed by what they believe are over-hyped or faulty forecasts about bad weather at the shore by the Philadelphia TV news stations.
“The worst part is the exaggeration of weather,” said Christopher Glancey, president of the Sea Isle Chamber of Commerce and Revitalization.
Hoping to give tourists better forecasts, the Chamber of Commerce is planning to pay a local meteorologist to develop video weather reports for the shore that will be posted on the organization’s website at www.seaislechamber.com beginning next spring.
Just because it may be rainy or overcast in the Philadelphia area, doesn’t mean it’s not sunny at the shore, the Chamber members said.
“It’s just a different weather pattern,” Glancey said of the two areas.
Glancey noted that inaccurate forecasts about storms or even threatening weather can discourage tourists from making the drive from the Philadelphia area for a day trip or weekend getaway at the beach.
“What it hurts are the daytrippers and the weekenders, especially,” he said.
The idea to post shore weather reports on its website was conceived during the Chamber’s monthly board meeting Tuesday. It followed some critical remarks aimed at the Philadelphia TV stations for their forecasting flubs.
“If there’s tropical storms in the area, they’ll kill us,” said John Fee, the Chamber’s vice president.
Sea Isle business owners fumed in 2016 when a weather forecast calling for a tropical storm to pummel the shore with drenching rains and tidal flooding scared away tourists by the droves during the normally busy Labor Day weekend. The storm actually veered farther out to sea than forecast and proved to be a virtual no-show.
Glancey said the weather report captures the most attention during the local news, so the TV stations should be particularly careful in getting the forecast right.
“People want the weather. The most important part of the local news is the weather,” he said.
The Sea Isle Chamber of Commerce may not go solo in posting weather reports on its website. The board members mentioned the possibility of collaborating with Cape May County as well as neighboring beach towns, such as Ocean City and Avalon, to develop shore weather forecasts.
Mickey Coskey, owner of Seven Mile Publishing, the marketing consultant for the Chamber, said all beach towns are hurt when forecasters blow the shore weather report.
“Everyone has the same problem,” Coskey said.
Glancey noted that the shore’s weather can vary even from town to town.
“We’ve all sat on the beach and watched it rain in Ocean City, or the people in Ocean City watched it rain here,” he said.
Unusually rainy weather in June and a little more in July got the summer season off to a “difficult” start for Sea Isle’s businesses, Glancey said. Compounding the problems were the sketchy weather reports coming out of the Philadelphia TV market, he added.
“If people don’t think it’s going to be nice here, they’ll stay home,” he said.
Glancey, however, expressed hope that the remaining weeks of summer, combined with the autumn shoulder season at the shore, will bring favorable weather to boost business.
“We still have a few more weeks to go. September can be spectacular,” he said.