Mild winter: Did it cause northerners to leave Collier, Lee earlier than planned?

Jason Easterly/Special to the Daily News
Vicki Sowinski walks in a processional carrying a bottle of wine during the 5th annual Passing of Season Parade held in Citrus Park in Bonita Springs on Friday, March 30, 2012. The parade is a way Citrus Park seasonal residents 'bury' the momentoes of their winter activities in Florida and prepare for the summer in the north.

Photo by JASON EASTERLY // Buy this photo

Jason Easterly/Special to the Daily News Vicki Sowinski walks in a processional carrying a bottle of wine during the 5th annual Passing of Season Parade held in Citrus Park in Bonita Springs on Friday, March 30, 2012. The parade is a way Citrus Park seasonal residents "bury" the momentoes of their winter activities in Florida and prepare for the summer in the north.

— The migration of seasonal residents is under way, and there’s reason to believe the mild northern winter has enticed people to leave Southwest Florida earlier than planned this year.

Some say that’s been the case, but others aren’t so sure.

Across the northern United States, stretching from South Dakota to Illinois to New Jersey, the 2011-12 winter was one of the warmest ever recorded. Not only were high temperature records broken, they were obliterated.

According to the National Weather Service, Kansas City experienced its warmest March on record. The same was true in Minnesota for the Twin Cities, and for New Jersey. In Chicago, warm temperature records were broken or tied on 10 consecutive days last month.

“All the cold air was kept bottled up in Canada,” said Jim Keeney, program manager for the National Weather Service. “Across a good portion of the Great Plains and Midwest, the winter has been above normal with record low snowfall.”

So with folks up North trading in parkas for T-shirts, some locals are wondering whether the warm weather up there is affecting Southwest Florida. The answer depends on who you ask.

“I’ve been a resident of Naples for 18 years,” said Monica Borrok, an agent at Royal Shell Real Estate, with offices in Collier and Lee counties. “When I moved here, you could wake up on April 1 and say ‘Wow, where did they all go and how did they leave overnight without me knowing?’ Now, we have many more people who book into April than ever before.”

According to local home watch services, as well as RV parks and resorts, the record warm winter in the North had little effect on their businesses.

“Year to year, most of our clients leave the last two or three weeks in April, and it hasn’t been any different this year,” said Diane Eager, owner of Cottage to Castle, a Naples home watch services company. “In fact, one of the services we provide is an airport drop-off or pick-up, and during those last few weeks in April we are going to be very busy.”

Naples RV park resorts such as Neapolitan Cove and Harmony Shores reported that “a few” northerners left early, but that overall, business was up.

“Some of our people have left earlier than usual, but not very many,” said Wanda Dearth, manager of Neapolitan Cove RV Resort. “I think our occupancy is still even higher than last year. We were booked up the entire time.”

However, other local businesses are seeing an early exodus of seasonal residents.

Amy Richard has been a rental agent for Royal Shell for five years and said she has never seen the end of March and the beginning of April so slow.

“I’m a rental agent for short-term rentals on Fifth Avenue and this is the deadest Easter week I’ve ever seen,” Richard said. “It’s always after Easter that people leave. Maybe everyone is at the beach because it is so beautiful.”

Jorge Velasquez, director of circulation sales at the Daily News, said more customers than usual put an early stop to paper deliveries this spring.

“At the end of March we experienced more of a decline than we normally have year by year,” Velasquez said. “The combination of the early Easter and the warmer weather up North has people going back sooner than they did last year. Easter was on April 24 last year, so we had the benefit of having them here as far as circulation was concerned.”

Kevin Weiland bought a vacation home in Fort Myers to escape the long, cold, northern winters. Last week, the high was 85 degrees in Rapid City, S.D., where Weiland has a home. It was the warmest and driest March there since 1942.

Scott McIntyre/Staff
Fans watch from the lawn area while the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins play in their spring training game at JetBlue Park at Fenway South on Sunday, March 4, 2012.

Photo by SCOTT MCINTYRE // Buy this photo

Scott McIntyre/Staff Fans watch from the lawn area while the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins play in their spring training game at JetBlue Park at Fenway South on Sunday, March 4, 2012.

But even with the summer-like conditions in South Dakota, Weiland said he would rather be in Florida watching spring training baseball. This year, though, he stayed in South Dakota for the warm spring after coming south earlier in the winter.

“The weather up here, awesome. The weather down there, awesome. But I’ll take Florida any day,” Weiland said. “We don’t have a beach up here. It’s brown here, and it is always green down there.”

Weiland isn’t the only one who feels that way.

Bill Kleine, who lives part of the year in northwest Illinois, has been coming to Southwest Florida every year for 14 years. He said he didn’t even consider going back to Illinois early.

“This winter was a complete fluke,” said Kleine, staying at the Bonita Lake RV Resort. “It’s been warmer than usual up there and down here, but it won’t happen in the North again anytime soon. It definitely wasn’t a reason to change any plans.”

Lisa Smith has had a winter home at Bonita Lake RV Resort for 12 years, and a summer home in Ohio. Not only does she not want to leave Florida early this year, she doesn’t want to leave at all.

“I would stay through the summer if it were only my decision, but my husband wants to go back,” Smith said. “For me, there’s no better place to live than Florida. I don’t care how warm it is up there.”

© 2012 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 71

ohyeah143 writes:

Good God I hope so!!!

donkeydrone writes:

Is that all it takes is a warm winter? Someone get mother nature on the phone.

Here4Now writes:

You Marklars must GO.

Opinionated writes:

in response to ohyeah143:

Good God I hope so!!!

Amen, and Happy Easter!

cnc1128 writes:

I hope they're all out of here by no later than tomorrow. Amen!!!!!

savethewhalz writes:

Most personal observations are anecdotal, though from my perspective traffic is more tolerable and prostitution arrests have become almost non-existent. The season is definitely winding down.

InCognitogirl writes:

Great they need to go home and I mean NOW. Happy Easter

Johnnymarco49 writes:

Good weather and an early date for Easter makes the vistors go away...I hope next year is even warmer and lets have Easter in mid-March

wolfgang1 writes:

Let the parade of restaurant closures begin!

dmarko326 writes:

will ultimately miss them. They made it RAIN ($$$$$$$$) from October thru March. It was nice.

brown writes:

Father went back to Chicago for better hospitals

BigJake54 writes:

You whine while they are here. You cry, when they're not here.

Manners writes:

Next year, please send money and stay home! :-)

KennyR (Inactive) writes:

Good riddance. I don't make a dime off them, they just drive slow in front of me.

Davidh239 writes:

I've heard stories this last week of trips to Gainsville taking 7 hours due to traffic. Ten hours to the Georgia border.

MOD167 writes:

Maybe they are leaving in droves only to escape life threatening incidents? You know, like where some local morons were hauling UNSECURED furniture in a small pickem'up truck and a bed flew off hitting a pedestrian in the head while walking on a Pineridge rd. sidewalk!

NOT an accident, this is mental deficiency!

Freak accident leaves Naples visitor injured
Posted: Apr 08, 2012 10:25 PM EDT Updated: Apr 08, 2012 10:26 PM EDT
By Nina Moini, NBC2 Reporter
http://www.abc-7.com/global/story.asp...

HAP writes:

Haven't they killed enough of us on the roadways and trashed up our beaches. Good bye!

volochine writes:

Too funny! Most of these people commenting want our local population to decline. A main tenet of successful capitalism is a growing population.

Good luck in the off-season, knuckleheads.

I think most people love Florida for the weather, but detest it for the uneducated problems it creates upon itself. Seriously, the State is a mess. We have a con man as governor. The State Police fail to convict a child killer. We have a Neighborhood Watch individual killing an unarmed 17 year old. The list is endless.

I don't blame the Northerners for running for educated grounds.

Silent1nomore writes:

I only hope they had a good time, ate hearty, drank well, and figured out there are no right hand turns from the left lane, and their wallets are empty!!!!

See ya next year, don't to forget to bring more money!!!

cozyboy writes:

It's a beautiful thing!

Colorado (Inactive) writes:

Maybe it would be better if most of the locals left and the visitors stayed. Think about it.

roadhouse writes:

There are many for whom I look forward to their departure. However, there are a few I will miss.

Carrot_Stick writes:

My advice is to take a map of Florida with you as you drive north and then spend the summer months learning how to read it. You should also enroll in a driving class for the elderly that may show videos to illustrate how dangerous your driving habits are.

If the speed limit is 45, you should not be driving 30 in ANY lane. If you miss your turn because you can't read the road sign until it is too late, instead of slamming on the brakes and making a right turn from the center lane, you should slowly approach the next intersection to safely turn around.

I think most of us down here do not mind tourists and we certainly appreciate their business. Whether we make money from them or not, their business benefits ALL of us. However.....you old and/or foreign tourists need to learn how to drive. If you want to drive like you do in France, then stay in France. If you want to drive like you do in Canada....then stay in Canada. "When in Rome"!!!

furball writes:

Don't ever put them down, they pay the same property tax as full time residents, club dues, pour money into the economy then leave.
I have been here 32 years: 50% leave at the end of March, 25% after Easter, (EASTER was early this year) 25% by Mother's Day, the end. Thank you snow birds for keeping the economies of SW Florida alive and well. AND you all speak English.

Here4Now writes:

in response to Manners:

Next year, please send money and stay home! :-)

That's right - Jack Wert will send you a video and a sand & shell paperweight.

HarryNuts writes:

in response to dmarko326:

will ultimately miss them. They made it RAIN ($$$$$$$$) from October thru March. It was nice.

If by "RAIN ($$$$$$$$)" you mean killing locals on the road with their terrible driving, holding up the express line with 25 items and a check or the service desk at Publix over a Buy One Get One Free return (they always keep the free one) then you can keep that rain.

suntan writes:

Simple reasons for the Snowbird leaving....Early Eastor, End of the three month rentals and the Early HOT Floridia weather that Snow birds claim they cannot tolerate. Also, they may be running out of money.

NeezDutz writes:

I am happy you guys come down and thank you for spending your money here so our economy doesn't die out.
There are a lot of nay sayers here who only focus on the way they are personally affected. it's sad that people can't see how our economy flourishes during the winter months due to snowbirds and tourists.

Pipin12 writes:

awesome!!!!! they need to go and never come back!

Here4Now writes:

in response to HarryNuts:

If by "RAIN ($$$$$$$$)" you mean killing locals on the road with their terrible driving, holding up the express line with 25 items and a check or the service desk at Publix over a Buy One Get One Free return (they always keep the free one) then you can keep that rain.

You bring up an interesting point that I had not given much thought to until now. Do snowbirds NOT have credit or debit cards? Why must they ALWAYS write a check? Who the eff writes checks anymore???? It is the longest, most time consuming, obnoxious way to pay for anything, especially groceries. Don't they have "plastic" up north? Cheese and crackers, it's the 21st century, you idiots.

They should have a separate line at the grocery store for "Checks Only", all other lines are cash or electronic. Bet those inconsiderate b-tards would dig out the plastic then!

freedomsailor writes:

in response to KennyR:

Good riddance. I don't make a dime off them, they just drive slow in front of me.

Yup, they drive the speed limit, YOU drive 20 MPH OVER!

just_makin_it writes:

Lol u all crack me up. But I have to give all the RV's on their way out a wave, and say gooooooddddddbyyyeeeeee! Don't let the door hit u in the butt! :-)

dmarko326 writes:

in response to HarryNuts:

If by "RAIN ($$$$$$$$)" you mean killing locals on the road with their terrible driving, holding up the express line with 25 items and a check or the service desk at Publix over a Buy One Get One Free return (they always keep the free one) then you can keep that rain.

It's a fact "robbery" type crime skyrockets month or so after tourists leave. Many small employers let employees go. So theft increases ten fold.

tropical36 writes:

Ummmmmm, not many with any intelligence whatsoever, would clap and cheer for having their bread and butter taken away.
I mean, I can't hardly get my bicycle across the road without being run over in season, but I'm smart enough to know that those are dollar bills rolling by.
Maybe we should close the borders to tourists. That way all the idiots that depend on them for a living (I said the idiots) will be forced to leave also, which if nothing else, should clean up the NDN article comments.
Thing is, the rest of us that are left behind, will now have to start paying state income tax, have our cars inspected annually...etc etc... and watch everything in general deteriorate. Do I need to continue, or are some of you possibly starting to catch on?

RichMKing writes:

in response to General_Rancor:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well then Pfc. Rancid,I suggest you follow them.Double time.

wnaples writes:

in response to Manners:

Next year, please send money and stay home! :-)

I'm with you, Manners!

wnaples writes:

Go! Don't let the door slap you in the butt! I've had enough of the arrogance, attitudes, and cheapskates! They treat you like crap, don't tip because they think they are gods and will never see you again! GO HOME! Our economy can survive without you! If Florida didn't bow to the tourists, we might get some industry and some real jobs in here! The idiots would come anyway because it's warmer here than Illinois and "Mick-town" Boston.

sugaray writes:

Easter was not early, pretty much right in the middle of a 34 day possibility.

ohyeah143 writes:

Why are they on the roads at 6:00 a.m.? Trying to get my kids to school and go to work, and there they are. Where are they going that early? Costco doesn't start handing out free samples until 10:30. Let the working people get to work!

DonkeyWhispererakaDuh_novan writes:

They drive our economy don't complain. drive on the east cost year round, it sucks!

just_makin_it writes:

in response to DonkeyWhispererakaDuh_novan:

They drive our economy don't complain. drive on the east cost year round, it sucks!

Duh, traffic sucks in any major city, and Ft. Lauderdale is no exception. I do think they're worse over there, and I drove limousine in NYC!

just_makin_it writes:

Buuuuubyyyeeeee snowbirds, see ya on the flip side, when ya'll get back down here, with all that vacation cash!

samsam writes:

in response to Pipin12:

awesome!!!!! they need to go and never come back!

your right and then you will all starve to death!

samsam writes:

in response to ELCID85:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

they put food on your table you s----- red neck.

Silver_Girl writes:

in response to Davidh239:

I've heard stories this last week of trips to Gainsville taking 7 hours due to traffic. Ten hours to the Georgia border.

I can testify to that... Drove up to Georgia the weekend before and I was lucky if I made it over 55 miles per hour on I-75 due to all the snowbirds leaving. It took over 5.5 hours to get to Ocala and about 9 nine hours to the Georgia line. It was the drive from hell!!!

samsam writes:

in response to ELCID85:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

REDNECK! SORRY.

SandnSurf writes:

in response to Silver_Girl:

I can testify to that... Drove up to Georgia the weekend before and I was lucky if I made it over 55 miles per hour on I-75 due to all the snowbirds leaving. It took over 5.5 hours to get to Ocala and about 9 nine hours to the Georgia line. It was the drive from hell!!!

I dont bother with 75 during season. Jump on 29 to 27, which dumps you on the turn pike and eventually onto 75 way up north.

samsam writes:

in response to ISPEAKFORGOD:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

bobster dont brush his tooth.

ZeroTolerance writes:

buh bye

GadsdenGirl writes:

They can't leave soon enough for me. They are the worst drivers on the road! And I could care less about ' what their $$$ brings to the county'. I work for a living with or without their pasty white presence clogging up our stores & roads.

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