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South Florida A Safe Haven As Generational Cold Smacks Majority Of U.S.

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With Chicago reaching its coldest day on record and the twin cities' reaching their coldest since 1996, many travelers from the Midwest are escaping to the beaches of Miami.

"I'm staying warm and probably eating some good Southern food," said David Brown, who just turned 31.

Fortunately for him, he made his birthday trip to South Beach. Many others weren't so lucky. At least 1,600 flights at Chicago airports were cancelled.

"I kept checking and checking," said Karen Lesina, who flew out of Chicago O'Hare.

Nicole Patterson from Chicago also described the weather in the Windy City as a 'deep cold' freeze.

"You almost can't breathe," said Patterson.

While most travelers had trips planned this week and felt fate was on their side, some like Cynthia Saavedre booked flights last month to get out of the cold.

Saavedre said she was so layered up, TSA did an extra pat down.

"I threw a bunch of clothes away at the airport," Saavedre added.

On South Beach, Greg Lincoln from Minneapolis has been enjoying a Key West Acadian. He said he's trying not to post too many beach photos on social media.

"We lost a lot of friends at home," joked Lincoln.

Lincoln especially feels for his daughter and 3 grandkids, stuck at home. Minneapolis Public Schools will be closed again Thursday, for the fourth day.

"They're just hunkered down and getting through it," said Lincoln.

Despite all the Midwest travelers looking for a getaway, some hotel and restaurant managers say it's hard to tell if the polar vortex is making a different in tourism because many travelers had to cancel their trips.

"They cannot make their flights and airports are closed," said Pascal Pinault with Avalon.

Those who did make it say they want to stay until the worst temperatures are over.

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