Thursday's heavy snowfall did not deter Doug Maday, the South Jersey used-car dealer who has been plunging into the ocean at Seaside Heights every day since Labor Day, 187 days ago.
With the air a brisk 23 degrees, and the water a bone-chilling 32.5, Maday took the latest plunge of his yearlong quest shortly before 4 p.m. Thursday.
"It's usually the warmest time of the day," he said. He went in on the south side of Casino Pier, as he often does, because it provides some protection from the wind.
He was accompanied for the first time by a 26-year-old neighbor, Scott Potter, who voiced shock at the water's bitter cold. "My left foot feels numb," Potter told Maday even before he had returned to the beach.
Maday, 50, says he has grown used to the cold water, which he enjoys, but has a harder time exposing himself to the wind and snow-covered beach.
He grew up in neighboring Seaside Beach and lives in nearby Island Heights. He got the idea for his every-day-for-a-year ocean plunges shortly before Labor Day, as he lamented the imminent passing of summer.
While he finds the icy water bracing, "it got a lot colder last month than I thought it would be," he said.
His perception was confirmed by David Robinson, the state climatologist at Rutgers University. Last month was the third-coldest February in New Jersey since record-keeping began in 1895, according to Robinson, with an average air temperature across the state of 21.9 degrees.
Those near-record air temperatures have significantly lowered the ocean temperatures, which typically average about 38 degrees in February. Maday said the coldest water temperature into which he has dived this year was 29 in mid-February. The coldest air temperature was 13, he said.
Maday said he had not missed a day since he began his plunges in late summer. He uses no wetsuit, which he calls "cheating," and requires of himself that his head go underwater each time.