Traverse City Record-Eagle

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February 28, 2014

Michiganders head south to escape winter

TRAVERSE CITY — Chuck and Carol Forwerck usually escape the long, cold Traverse City winter and take a Caribbean cruise in March.

But this year they’ve moved up that trip to late February.

“We were tired of the snow,” Chuck Forwerck said. “We love our weather here in Traverse City, but it’s getting a little old.”

Jeff Sanborn is headed to Florida to visit his wife, and he’s excited to go from zero degree temperatures to more than 75 degrees.

“I’m looking forward to getting out of here,” Sanborn said. “It’ll be a real change.”

Travelers at Traverse City’s Cherry Capital Airport Thursday are part of a larger flee-the-freeze trend. Nancy Cain, a spokeswoman at AAA Michigan, estimated travel to the south is up by about 10 percent over normal seasonal numbers.

“People are saying the winter’s just dragging too much and they really feel the need to get out,” Cain said.

The most popular destinations include Florida, Arizona, and cruises through the Caribbean, she said.

A mass migration of Michiganders isn’t unique to this year’s winter. There’s always a spike in travel over spring break, when swarms of locals either head somewhere warm or to places like Colorado where they can ski, said Kevin Klein, Cherry Capital Airport director.

But Easter falls late this year, on April 20, so many of those who planned to travel over that weekend nudged their vacations ahead a bit.

“Folks say we’ve had really cold weather since Thanksgiving,” said Cain, of AAA.

A harsh winter can do more than make residents shun the north for sun; it truly can deplete the “feel good” chemicals produced the human brain.

Experts said the long, cold winter of 2013-14 caused an uptick in seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression typically caused by the lack of light during the winter months.

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