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Gloomy weather took its toll on county’s beach attendance

May gray, June gloom, July ... Are these clouds really still in the sky? Or has La Jolla morphed into Seattle?

While San Diego County’s heavy dose of the summertime marine layer hopefully will have burned off for good by the time this article is read, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t put a damper on much of the season, including Fourth of July weekend.

But it could be worse. San Diego Lifeguard spokesman Nick Lerma said the most extreme summer he can remember in terms of clouds was in the late 1980s, when there were only seven days of sunshine the entire season, according to lifeguard records.

During the Fourth of July weekend, roughly 218,000 hit the beach at La Jolla Shores — about 60,000 less than in 2009, according to statistics supplied by Lerma.

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Citywide, Lerma said about 1 million people enjoyed the beaches during the holiday weekend, down by 200,000 from last year.

The cloud cover has affected kayak and surf businesses near the Shores. Izzy Tihanyi, co-owner of Surf Diva, said the surf school was still busy, but lighter than normal. Still, she saw a bright side to the outside grayness.

“We’re selling lots of sweaters,” she said. “I think as soon as the sun comes out, we will see a lot of people at the beach very excited to see the sun. Right now, you can still find parking and it’s summer at La Jolla Shores, which on a normal July 8 would be impossible.”

John Metzger, who owns OEX Scuba and Kayak Shop, said there is no doubt the weather has made business slower than usual for this time of year.

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“There’s no question about it,” he said. “It’s exponentially better when the weather is good.”

Metzger said, however, that tourists, who are more tolerant of the weather, often drive business in the summer months.

Patty Fares, who works at the La Jolla Visitors Center on Herschel Avenue, seconded that notion. She said Friday that she’s still seen good crowds walking in the Village, despite the gloomy weather.

“The folks from Arizona seem to be thrilled,” she said, as a man from upstate New York walked by and chimed in that it is “95 degrees with 100 percent humidity” back East.

Lerma said the weather and lack of attendance has also affected lifeguard staffing. He said many of the temporary lifeguards brought in for the summertime are not being called upon as much.

“They come here and of course want to work,” he said of the seasonal employees who support the full-time staff.