BROKEN BOW — Chandra Rickey might be one of the only people at Broken Bow Lake who’s hoping for rain this weekend.
Rickey is one of three owners of Girls Gone Wine, a boutique winery just outside Beavers Bend State Park near Broken Bow. Labor Day weekend usually means good business for the winery, Rickey said. But if forecasts for thunderstorms come true, Rickey said she expects even more lake visitors will come to the winery rather than boating or hiking in the rain.
“When it rains, we pour,” Rickey said. “It helps our business because there’s nothing much to do.”
The National Weather Service’s Shreveport office predicts a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms in Broken Bow on Thursday. Although that rain would put a damper on the weekend for some people, Beavers Bend State Park manager Jim Miller said traffic in the park is already beginning to pick up. No matter what the weather brings, Miller said he expects a busy weekend.
Trout fishermen, in particular, Miller said, will be out rain or shine.
“There’s trout waiting to be caught now,” he said.
AAA Oklahoma estimates about 408,000 Oklahomans will travel over the Labor Day weekend. That’s about a 2 percent increase over Labor Day 2013 and the most since Labor Day 2008. Nearly 85 percent of those travelers are expected to go by car, with the rest traveling by air, rail, bus or other means of transportation.
Susie Snider, park manager at Lake Thunderbird State Park in Norman, said crews were out Wednesday preparing the park for the weekend. The Labor Day weekend doesn’t typically bring as many visitors as Memorial Day or Independence Day, she said, but she expected camp sites to be full.
“I think Memorial Day, people have been cooped up all winter long, and they like to get out and do something,” she said.
Susan Howell, a park ranger at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, said Labor Day is usually a busy weekend in the park. The park’s camp sites typically begin filling up late Thursday and early Friday before the weekend begins, she said. If those sites fill up, campers can usually still find sites at nearby Lake Lawtonka or Great Plains State Park, Howell said.
Although visitors generally flock to the park during the long weekend, most people just drive through the park to look at wildlife and stop at the visitors center, she said. That means visitors who choose to go on a hike will likely have the trail to themselves.
“You will definitely be far from most of the crowd,” Howell said. “Most people never avail themselves of a walk.”
The National Weather Service’s Norman office predicts a 91-degree high temperature in Lawton on Saturday, with a 20 percent chance of rain. Temperatures are expected to warm up to about 96 degrees Sunday and Monday.