No wonder visitation didn’t reach expectations!

The weather was more like mid-October than early September. High temperatures set “low records” for the last holiday weekend of summer. Beautiful bodies were pocked with goose pimples. Sweatshirts replaced swimsuits.

Periods of mist and light rain shrouded Lake Cumberland and a northeast wind produced an autumnal chill. It was difficult to comprehend that summer still had nearly three weeks to go.

Shawn Harley, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Jackson, said high temperatures from Thursday through Sunday were the lowest on record for a last day of August and first three days of September.

“It wasn’t that cold at night. It was the high temperatures during the day that set low records,” said Harley. For example, on Sunday, the maximum temperature at the airport in Jackson was 69 degrees, the lowest high for the date on record. The old record was 72, he noted.

Craig Shoe, resource manager for Lake Cumberland, said an estimated 218,000 visitors were in the 10-county Lake Cumberland area during the Labor Day holiday. That was 32,000 less than expected.

Shoe said the cool, misty weather kept day users at home, campers at their campsites “ ... and some people left early.”

Carolyn Mounce, executive director of the Somerset-Pulaski Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it was definitely a “slow” holiday as far as visitors are concerned.

“We only had 28 people stop by the visitors’ center yesterday (Monday) and that’s light. We have been averaging about 60,” said Mounce.

The unusual chill slowed traffic on the lake.

Mounce said she and some friends were on the lake during the holiday period “ ... and there was nobody out there.” She said folks in her group “ ... were wearing sweatshirts.”

Also, Mounce said motels and overnight places to stay had vacancies on both Friday and Saturday.

There were some optimistic reports.

“Saturday was a little slow because the weather was so bad, but Sunday and Monday were really good,” said Judy Smith, manager of the pro-shop at General Burnside Island State Park. She said the golf course was busy Sunday and Monday and the campground “ ... was full all weekend.”

Pulaski County Park “was a little slow,” but all in all, “pretty good,” said Mike McQueary, caretaker at the county-operated park near Nancy.

McQueary said improved campsites were full, but there were not too many campers in the primitive camping areas. There were several family reunions, he noted.

“It wasn’t a Fourth (of July),” admitted McQueary, blaming the weather.

The holiday also had a sad note. A 37-year-old Richmond man drowned late Sunday while swimming in Lake Cumberland near 76 Falls in Clinton County.

Marshall Jennings, environmental specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said Larry E. Jones was swimming from one boat to another when he drowned. His body was recovered Monday.

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