Beachgoers pack Flagler Beach as temperatures rise

Beackgoers flock to Flagler Beach as late December temperatures soar into the low 80s, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. (PHOTO/Jason Wheeler, Staff)

Beackgoers flock to Flagler Beach as late December temperatures soar into the low 80s, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. (PHOTO/Jason Wheeler, Staff)

Beackgoers flock to Flagler Beach as late December temperatures soar into the low 80s, Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. (PHOTO/Jason Wheeler, Staff)

By Jason Wheeler, Flagler County Reporter
Last Updated: Monday, December 29, 2014, 4:36 PM

Forget about “folks wrapped up like Eskimos.” Everybody knows that sun, surf and sand are great, no matter what time of the year it is.

At Flagler Beach, these unseasonably warm temperatures are reminders of why Florida is a popular winter destination.

But for those who call this area home, they also know it’s not always like this.

Dave Smith is a retiree from southern California of all places.

“Last year at this time, it was so cold,” Smith said. “You know, it was a completely different story. You know, this year, I don’t know what we did right but the weather is beautiful this year.”

Al Ferriso is vacationing from New York, where he’s got a 20-year-old son back home. He tried to get him to come down, considering he’s an avid surfer.

Instead, his son is getting constant calls, email and pictures of dad on the beach.

“The water here is warmer than the ocean water in the summer in New York, back in Gilgo Beach,” Ferriso said after getting out of the ocean.

There’s no mistaking this crowd for a Memorial Day or July 4 weekend. But for a Monday at the end of December, it’s not too shabby.

There’s no question the busier it is along the beaches, even at the end of December, that’s great for business along the coast.

At Fuego, which sits right across State Road A1A from the ocean, no one is dining inside.

General Manager Rick Brager said a 15-degree shift in temperature makes a big deal.

“It’s hard to say, 30 to 40 percent maybe, increase over when the weather’s not that good. So we’re pickled about it,” Brager said.

No one expects the warm temperatures to last, but will enjoy it while it’s around.

If there is downside during this warm spell, it’s the ocean conditions. While great for surfers, red flags were flying along Flagler Beach, warning of increased rip current risks.

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