OTTUMWA — Wapello County has seen snow one day, 90 degree temperatures another and a day with severe thunderstorms knocking out power and rolling semis on their side. Now, Ottumwa's children may notice the wild climate changes this month: The Beach Ottumwa has no choice but to delay opening day.
“I’ve already checked the forecast,” said Ottumwa parks director Gene Rathje on Friday, “and it’s going to be too cold [to open] Saturday and Sunday. We’ll see about Monday.”
The National Weather Service is calling for a daytime high of 67 degrees on Saturday. The local temperature has to be 70 degrees by 11 a.m. in order to open, or The Beach management considers it too cold. But it’s not concern over ticket sales that drives that policy, the park director said.
“Below that [temperature] there’s an increased risk of hypothermia and other health concerns,” Rathje said.
Still, there's plenty to do for The Beach crew, which has been getting ready for opening day — whenever that is. The indoor pool is still open. And preparation for the water park’s wave pool, children’s area and giant slide continue. On Friday, a lifeguard was filling floatation tubes with air at the new concession stand. And maintenance employees were carrying picnic tables across the pavement to the outdoor entryway. Staff had already filled the wave pool, a job requiring hours of attention, a fire hose and a lot of water.
When The Beach Ottumwa does open, it’ll be on weekends until school ends. The exception, of course, will be if the air temperature hits 70 degrees by 11 a.m. Monday, the Memorial Day holiday.
To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark.