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CNN Today

Winter Storm: Highways, Schools, Governments Close From South Carolina to Southern Maine

Aired January 25, 2000 - 1:01 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Call it a nor'easter, a blizzard, or just plain blustery, but it is, after all, a powerful winter storm swirling up the East Coast at this hour. Highways, schools, governments are closed from South Carolina to Southern Maine. Add to that mix shutdowns and delays at some of the nation's busiest airports, and it's still snowing; Eighteen inches of it has fallen on Central North Carolina, the most snow that region has seen in decades. The weather also is bad in the state -- so bad that the state's emergency workers can't make it to their office in downtown Raleigh.

And give us a big old horrible storm, and right in the middle of it will be CNN's Gary Tuchman.

Gary, I understand you're in Greensboro, is that right?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, Lou, and one only has to drive on an interstate highway here in Central North Carolina for a short time to see how dangerous this snow is, especially for people not used to this much snow.

I'm driving in the Greensboro area right now, west of the state capital of Raleigh, on Interstate 85. And over the past half hour, I've counted 11 cars that have slid off the side of road and are awaiting help, including one car that I watched fishtail off the road about 100 feet in front of me into a snow bank. We actually got out and made sure the husband and wife were OK, and then we called 911 to help them out.

Now, the interstate is open, but the normally three-lane highway is down to one barely passable lane in each direction. The 70 mile- per-hour speed limit signs posted are just a funny joke. Traffic is going 25 at best. Side streets are covered with snow, and nearby residential neighborhoods are very quiet. The only activity we see outside right now, other than a few cars, are children trying to use their sleds. Most people have smartly stayed home. I've seen more snowplows than I anticipated in this area, but you won't mistake it for Minneapolis's snow-response team.

Over the last year, the people of the great state of North Carolina have suffered through a summer drought, hurricanes, flood, and now a freak snowstorm, certainly more than their fair share.

Lou, back to you. WATERS: Gary, I understand National Guard troops also are in North Carolina today. What's their job?

TUCHMAN: We see the convoy's going down the interstates right now, Lou, and they're there to help out anyone who needs it because, the fact is, these people are certainly not used to this much snowfall.

WATERS: All right, Gary Tuchman in the middle of it in Greensboro, North Carolina. The message there is: If you don't have to go out, don't -- Natalie.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, in our nation's capital, the storm has shut down Reagan National Airport, and nonessential government workers are getting a day off. It also has local hospitals appealing to four-wheel-drive owners to give medical employees a lift, please.

Let's check in now with Kathleen Koch. She's in Washington -- Kathleen.

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, it's a winter wonderland here with many Washingtonians wondering just where this sneak snowstorm came from. Virtually no one predicted it until late last night. Well, that sent many commuters out onto local roads early this morning only to find themselves turned back around and sent home when the federal government and many businesses in this city shut down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The weather really messed these young people here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want to get to our cruise.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Messed up our vacation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll make it up tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The honeymoon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we were one of the only idiots that decided to get up at 4:00 this morning and chance coming to the airport.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Got up at 5:00 to be here, and now we have to wait 12 hours until our plane goes up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We brought the youth group up for the March for Life from our church, and just had a great experience, and we're still experiencing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KOCH: The high winds and the snow have closed Reagan National Airport. Baltimore Washington International Airport is trying to get one of its runways open. They hope to open that by about 1:15 this afternoon. Dulles International Airport still has one runway open, but there are numerous cancellations and delays, so of course call ahead.

One thing that was canceled and has pleased, you know, in fact, a lot of people is schools. Children are out romping and reveling in this stuff. It's not much for making snowballs with, though, but kids are having a great time.

Now, train travel up and down the East Coast is beginning to be affected by this storm. Trains between Washington, D.C. and New York City -- Amtrak trains -- have now been put on an hourly schedule because of the storm, and because of the light traffic. Also, trains that were to have run between New York City and Charlotte and New York City and Florida have been canceled.

Now, speaking of New York, that's where CNN's Deborah Feyerick is standing by to let us know how this nor'easter is impacting the Big Apple -- Deborah.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, thanks, Kathleen.

Right now, what we're experiencing is a very light drizzle, but it's a very icy drizzle. And just to show you what we mean, this is what's happening. You can hear: It's forming a layer of ice, and this layer of ice is what drivers are going to be experience as they go home. So that's going to be a big problem. Electrical companies also keeping an eye on this because it could prove dangerous as far as bringing some wires down.

Buses going very slowly today in the city. And as far as a passengers getting on and off, well, there are big drifts, and so they are having to maneuver those. There is nowhere for any of this snow to go. That's the way it is in New York City. We've got a lot of salt spreaders out, and by the end of the day, some 5,000 tons of salt will be on the city's roads. But, again, with no where for this snow to go, everybody's going to be jumping and stretching and just trying to make their way as best they can.

The airports, LaGuardia, still closed; JFK and Newark International, well, they're open, but no planes going in and out. So we're keeping an eye on all of this. Subways? Well, they're on time. That's the best way to go when it snows.

Reporting live, Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.

ALLEN: Well, they look good out in the snow.

WATERS: Couple of fashion plates, yes.

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