Thanks to Hurricane Irene and the town's first evacuation since 1985, the number of visitors to Ocean City for summer 2011 may fall just short of last year's total.
According to estimates from the Ocean City Department of Tourism, the town hosted 4,086,639 visitors from Memorial Day weekend though Labor Day. Last year during the same period, there were 4,108,725 visitors.
The difference is less than 1 percent, which would give the city a fairly flat summer, despite such high profile events at The Dew Tour.
"Had we not had to evacuate for Hurricane Irene the last weekend in August, we would have certainly topped last year's population estimate," said Donna Abbott, communications manager for Ocean City. "Our Labor Day Weekend was fantastic, great weather and very good crowds in town."
The population estimate for the holiday weekend was 292,911, a nearly 10 percent increase over last year's Labor Day weekend total of 268,840.
The visitor estimates are based on statistics from Demoflush, a method Ocean City uses to calculate resort population based on wastewater usage - basically, how many times a toilet is flushed. Town officials also use resort tax records to calculate crowds, but those are not yet available for 2011.
Still, summer doesn't officially end until Sept. 22, so Ocean City could still exceed last year's number. But the potential for showing a significant increase over 2010 is less likely. And the resort's signature end of summer event, Sunfest, doesn't begin until Sept. 24, when fall will already be underway.