Passengers book flights to Florida to avoid sub-zero temperatures

Posted at 11:02 PM, Jan 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-29 23:21:04-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Dangerously cold air, potentially the coldest ever, is expected to hit the Midwest Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

At Tampa International Airport, passengers said they escaped by booking a flight to Florida.

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"We're coming down to visit our grandchildren. The grandchildren live in Florida and grandma and grandpa live up in Wisconsin," said Betty Maier, Wisconsin resident.

As of Tuesday night, the departure board at Tampa International shows flights canceled to Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Chicago.

"Winter in Chicago was pretty good until we got a big snow storm and it has just been frigid cold ever since," said Erik Rosner.

The forecast in Chicago is a 50 below wind chill on Wednesday. Frostbite can begin in five minutes.

"Your extremities, your fingers, your toes, your ears, your nose, those are the areas most affected and in a short amount of time, we're talking minutes," said Dr. George Chiampas with Northwestern Memorial Hospital Emergency Room.

Passengers said they'll take the sunshine over the snow.

"I will take it because if you compare 60 degrees to 50 below, it's a huge change, I'll take it," said Lora Sharp, passenger.

A spokesperson for Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago told ABC Action News they treated 24 patients for hypothermia on Tuesday and they expect even more patients on Wednesday.