The Midwest is currently experience a brutal polar vortex, with a windchill that can bring temperatures as low as -50°F, and in some cases below -60°F, in parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan.

The US National Weather Service has warned that temperatures are so low, ‘frostbite is possible within just 10 minutes of being outside in such extreme temperatures.’ We have pulled together advice and information for people who are visiting the region and might be caught up in the bad weather. Hope you all stay warm and safe!

Travel advice

If you are in the region – 

  • Monitor the local weather forecast. Use a couple of different apps and/or websites to get information from multiple sources.  
  • Stay indoors where possible.
  • Expect travel disruption – flights and train journeys have been cancelled. Check with your operator before leaving.
  • Road travel will be very dangerous – avoid road travel where possible, only make necessary journeys if you are appropriate prepared for a breakdown. (See below for advice from FEMA.)
  • Make sure you have your travel insurance information to hand and know when to call. If you have booked your trip through a travel agent or a tour company, keep that information stored safely too. 
  • Look up and save contact details for emergency services (different branches may have different numbers). For all contact information, make sure you make a note of it in an offline location too – you may need to make a call from a payphone or landline after your phone battery has died.
  • Check in with friends and family to let them know you are OK. 
  • If you are likely to be making a claim on your travel insurance, review the documents so you know what information you will need and what the process for making a claim is.
  • Keep mobile devices charged. 

You can find more information on how to stay safe in winter weather at weather.gov.

If you are heading to the region soon – 

  • Check in with your airline and travel agent to find out if your trip will be impacted. 
  • Monitor media reports.
  • Talk to your travel insurance provider to check what is/is not covered, and plan accordingly. 

Health advice

Further news and information

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