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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Hurricane Frances Buffets Florida

Aired September 5, 2004 - 03:55   ET

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


CATHERINE CALLAWAY: Welcome back everyone as CNN continues our coverage of hurricane Frances. Orelon Sydney standing by with us now in Orlando, just beginning to feel the effects of Frances. Orelon, what's the situation?
ORELON SIDNEY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it hasn't changed very much. It looks like the wind's maybe a little gustier than they were last time I talked to you about 20 minutes ago, but we're going to see that off and on because the thing about a hurricane, it's not just one big solid thunderstorm. It's a collection of individual rain areas and thunderstorm areas and some of them are heavier than others. Some of them are gustier than others and they get gradually more rainy and more gusty the closer you get to the center.

So we're kind of - we're on the right front quarter of the storm so this is the worst part of the storm so anyone that say, if you drew a circle from us equal distance all the way around, we're probably getting it the worst of any of those people in that area. I guess we're probably about 70 miles or so from the center of the storm is my guess. I don't know exactly.

But this area has been fairly benign so far. We've had some pretty gusty winds, winds sustained, the last report I saw was sustaining winds at 23. You might want to check with Rob and I'm sure he's got some other observations. But it's been gusting - I'd say the maximum gust I've seen maybe hit 40 miles an hour and that's just a guess. The rain has picked up a little more steadily. It's not - it's not very heavy at this point. It kind of goes off and on a little bit.

But for now Orlando's faring fairly well. The good news is there's not a lot of folks out on the roads and that's good news. That's going to keep things a lot quieter and I think most businesses are going to be closed today and maybe even into early Monday so that's going to keep people off the roadways too.

You asked earlier about some evacuations and we do know that they did recommend evacuations for people in mobile homes because very little wind can cause a whole lot of problems with mobile homes. So that's the main thing you're looking at here. There's a potential we could see some power out too because some of the gusty winds might knock down a tree limb or two and that falling on the power line of course would put the power out.

I think the last thing I saw last night, one of the local affiliates reported there were about 6,000 people that didn't have power here in Orlando. But so far Orlando is faring fairly well, but it's certainly going to be, I'd say an interesting 18 hours or so. I'd say between now and 18 hours from now, Orlando's going to see the worst of it.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: And a lot of people have actually evacuated towards Orlando. I know the hotels are full. Is that our understanding too Orelon? Do you know?

SIDNEY: Well, this hotel is full of people and dogs. So I can tell you that we did indeed see a lot of people come to this hotel, lots of dogs and cats and things like that, so it does look like people did evacuate coastal areas and that was a smart move because that's where the wind is going to be the strongest. Tropical storm force winds I bet, this is just my guess but I think the forecaster was for 50 to 60 mile an hour gusts here. So there may be some brief gusts of hurricane force, depending on where you are in the storm. But this is definitely a heck of a lot safer than being out toward the coast, certainly West Palm Beach and the Melbourne area obviously. This is a lot better than that.

CALLAWAY: Rob, are you there?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm here.

CALLAWAY: You certainly have access to a lot more equipment than Orelon does where she is. What do you forecast for the Orlando area?

MARCIANO: Well, recent observations out of Orlando are 52 knot gusts, so close to 60 mile an hour as far as that conversion is concerned. So they're getting wind gusts of close to 60 miles an hour in Orlando right now and they're not really, they're going to see worse weather still to come, although as this thing comes on shore, it will weaken. So like Orelon said, probably won't see much wind in excess of hurricane strength, much wind over 75 or 80 miles an hour. But that's a possibility in a gust.

Should mention that when Charley came through three weeks ago, I don't know if Orelon mentioned this, but they had wind gusts of 105 miles an hour in Orlando.

CALLAWAY: What about the concern of tornadoes in that area? I know they have been watching the warning throughout the evening.

MARCIANO: Yes, I'll tell you what, if we could switch my source to GR115 and I'll give you a better indication of that. Typically to the north and right of the quadrant or to the - yes, the right hand, upper right hand corner of the quadrant, depending on which way this is moving, so that would be everywhere up here, that's where you typically see the most spin. If you think of a hurricane with all these spiral arms and then anyone of these arms kind of throwing a Frisbee out. That's how the air is kind of spinning out from around this thing. So you get a lot of spin in the atmosphere, in this section of the storm. So because of that, there's often rows for tornadoes. But these are typically small ones. It seems like this year when we have had tropical systems move on shore, most of them have moved into Florida.

We found a number of tornadoes touched down that were pretty strong. So I shouldn't really go on and say that, you know, usually they're weak storms. But because we've had some that have done some significant damage.

This red box is a watch box for tornadoes. As this thing rolls towards the west, it will be -- you see that little clip right there. It goes away. That's because the watch is no longer in effect there. So the more this eye continues to march this way, the less this box will become in effect.

But in that box, tornadoes are possible. Again, in the northern area of this storm, as you get that spin as this air just -- just swirling out from the center.

And on top of that, you get these little tornadoes that can touch down. They move much faster than -- tornadoes, than the big ones do in, say, Oklahoma and Kansas, during -- during severe weather season. These can move at the speed of the winds of the storm. So they can move at 65, 70 miles an hour. So...

CALLAWAY: Well, we just wanted to give Anderson Cooper a little bit more to worry about.

GRIFFIN: Yes, Anderson, definitely, tornadoes on top of everything else.

Do we still have Orelon Sidney?

SIDNEY: Yes.

GRIFFIN: You went down, actually, to ride in a hurricane hunter. You took that flight. Was it a Category Four when you were flying over?

SIDNEY: I'm trying to remember. I honestly don't remember. It was about 1:30 in the morning Friday morning, and I'm not sure. I don't know. Maybe if Rob had something a little bit later on this morning in all his spare time, maybe he'll have time to look back through the archives and see.

I don't believe it was a Category Four at that point. We were flying over the storm, however, at about 42,000 feet, so it really was -- the air there, you're under a high pressure -- high pressure aloft. And so there's really no weather there to speak of. It was a very smooth flight, and it could have been Category Four or Five underneath me. I never would have known it. It was very smooth.

And we took instrument packages, obviously, and dropped them all around the environment of the storm. That's one of the latest theories, is that the near environment of the hurricane has a lot to do with its intensity and it's track.

And so that was our job, was to go up in the very high altitudes. Only 15 percent of the atmosphere was above us. We were up in those very high altitudes, dropped some instrument packages and sent that information back to the National Hurricane Center so they could put that in their forecast models.

But it was -- it was a fantastic flight. I wasn't in the low level flights that you see with the big C-130 Hercules going bumping and jostling around. I don't know that -- I like to think of myself as very intrepid, but I don't know if I'm that intrepid. I think the flight that I took was -- was about what I want to -- what I want to keep it for now.

CALLAWAY: And is Frances everything that you thought it would be, the forecasters, all of those who were aboard that flight? Or has it become bigger than you ever anticipated?

SIDNEY: Well, to be honest, on the flight that I was on, they -- they fly these flights about four times a day. That was the point at which we started to see some shear. That was the point at which it started to show some signs of weakening down from the Category Four that it was.

And again, I'm not sure where it was on that cycle, but it was definitely -- we could see that the shear was starting all around the storm. There was only outflow on the northeast side. That right front quadrant was the only place that had good outflow.

And when you think of outflow in a hurricane, it's kind of like a chimney. You have to get the whole hurricane to be able to exhaust itself. And if you don't, it's like putting the lid on a chimney, and you're just going to get that air to build up and build up and build up.

And the pressure then starts to rise in the center of the storm. And the wind speed and the pressure are inversely related. The higher the pressure goes, the lower the wind speed.

And so at the point where I was flying over, we definitely started to see that there was some shear coming into the storm and that the storm had started to weaken.

GRIFFIN: Well, I'm wondering, Orelon, if this storm behaved the way that -- that you on that plane ride and the forecaster thought it would be. Were there any surprises here from that flight?

SIDNEY: Well, with a storm that's this intense, you expect fluctuations in strength. That's one of the things that the hurricane center said about the -- the 48, 72 hours to go, when the storm is very strong. When a storm gets to be Category Four or Five, you start to go through some eye wall cycles. You can see the intensity of the storm decrease and increase.

And I think the main thing that surprised me, anything that surprised me was that we did see some shear. Because earlier, I couldn't figure out where the shear was coming from.

But there was a little weak trough in the atmosphere that was managing to kind of knock some of the tops off, some of the dry air is actually coming into the middle part of the storm.

So it's odd. At the surface, it was pretty well organized at the top OK, but right in the middle is where it seemed to be getting some shear coming in in the -- from the middle part of the atmosphere. So I guess -- I don't know if I can say I was surprised by it or anything, but that was a -- that was a surprising development. Because when I went up, I really thought there wasn't anything between this storm and Florida but a barbed wire fence. And I wasn't even sure where that was.

CALLAWAY: And...

SIDNEY: And so I think it's good news. I think it's excellent news.

CALLAWAY: All right. Let's check in with Anderson.

GRIFFIN: Thanks, Orelon.

CALLAWAY: ... hanging on in Melbourne. You still with us, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": I am. You know, every time I come to you, I keep saying it seems like the winds have picked up. Yet again, it seems like the winds have picked up.

And that's, I guess, along with the what Rob Marciano was saying, that the worst of the storm may be still heading to our way in the next half hour or so.

What's strange, though, about the way it is right now is because it's so dark -- I mean, we've lit up the area with some of our lights -- but because it's so dark, you hear these sounds. And you don't know what they are.

I mean, you hear, like, sort of a sound of metal crumpling, and you kind of look around, wondering, you know, what is it? Is it something that's about to fly in this direction? And you certainly hope it's not.

The other thing is, you start to smell things. I'm now smelling a burning smell, like an electrical fire smell. We've seen a number of transformers exploding, lighting up the sky. We just saw one about five minutes ago. I don't know if that smell is connected with the transformers exploding.

But it's a very surreal experience to be in the midst of this rain, in the midst of these wind gusts, and be smelling the smell of burning fire.

CALLAWAY: That is very scary. Let's check in with Zarrella, John Zarrella, who's getting hammered. Things looked like they had let up for a while -- John.

GRIFFIN: You guys are about 150 miles apart or so.

CALLAWAY: Right.

GRIFFIN: John. JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The -- I think we're on that back half of the storm, and we must be on that back of the eye wall. And it's come across.

So yes, you talk about Anderson up in Melbourne, and we're down here. And as the turnpike flies, you know, we would be at about mile marker 100, and Anderson's at about mile marker, you know, 180 or so. So we're about 80 miles apart.

And it is really, really bad here. Again, it had let up for awhile, but within the last 30 minutes or so, as you can see, anybody or our viewers who had been following our coverage throughout the night, you know that it was a little bit -- it wasn't quite this intense an hour ago or even 30 minutes ago. And it really started picking up again.

And again, it -- it led from the south to the north. And a lot of the water is still, again, coming right up through the sewer. It just can't control it any longer. We're all standing in four or five inches of water right here that goes all the way out to my left, which is right over to the Intercoastal Waterway there.

And, you know, the palm trees back there, they've just about had it. I think they've basically given up. There's -- there's not much left of the palm fronds there. The -- most of them -- you can really see, I think, that it's blowing pretty good.

But I'm standing up, so that's a good indication that, you know, the winds are not -- probably not at 90 miles an hour or 100 miles an hour. Because I couldn't stand up if the winds were -- were at that level.

CALLAWAY: You know, John, it would surprise me that if people were watching this earlier, yesterday evening, 7 p.m. and they saw these winds and this rain. And here we are, all these many hours later, and you're still fighting this. Never have we seen this kind of lengthy hurricane last this long. It's just amazing.

ZARRELLA: I'm telling you, we were just -- we were just talking about it. And now -- and now it's about four -- I've lost track of time. I guess about 4 p.m. in the morning, Eastern Time, and this -- it started like this at about 8 p.m. Eastern Time Saturday night, at which point (NO AUDIO) we, in this kind of environment (ph) to one degree or another.

It lessons up for awhile. Then it kicks back up. And you know -- I don't know if we can say there's the light at the end of the tunnel, because I guess we must -- I don't know what Rob Marciano's seeing, but I -- I would suspect we must be on the -- on the backside of the storm by now down here in West Palm Beach.

CALLAWAY: Rob, are you there?

MARCIANO: Yes, I am. He's on the southern part of the storm. I guess when we say -- you can say backside, and that -- that implies, you know, it's almost over. And maybe it's just not -- not as bad. But it is as bad. I don't know if I can -- in a lot of storms, you can often get some of your strongest winds in the back out. So let's switch sources over to PA7 if we could, and give you a better idea of where -- where John is.

All right. There's West Palm Beach. He's getting this squall right here. These winds now are coming out of the west and possibly out of the south. So he's getting this squall, center of it right there.

Obviously, if you just look at it, just look at it for the bright colors. Bright colors are there. Bright colors are there. Bright colors are there. These are the bright colors. He's getting it pretty good here.

So conditions will improve, but not right now. As you can see, John, you're -- so you're -- can you hear me?

CALLAWAY: I think we may have lost the shot.

GRIFFIN: Yes.

MARCIANO: He's going to get -- he's going to get squally weather for some time. It's not going to get much -- it's not going to get any better here for the next couple of hours. But then eventually it will.

He's still close to the center. I mean, West Palm is pretty right in the eye wall; it's just the southern half of the eye wall. And the winds around this eye wall are still, you know, at the flight (ph) level at least, at 100 miles per hour.

CALLAWAY: It doesn't look any better north of that at the Melrose either.

GRIFFIN: Yes, he's -- John's looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. He doesn't have the tunnel in sight yet, it seems to me.

MARCIANO: When you guys -- when you guys look at this imagery behind me, it's pretty simple. Just look for what -- two things. One is that the bright -- just look for the bright colors. All right?

So you see the swirl and the bright colors. Here's where the eye is, where there aren't so many bright colors. As a matter of fact, there -- there is -- you can sometimes just see the green of the map itself between all the rain.

So you go outside of this eye wall, and where those brightest colors are -- for one thing, that's where the sustained winds are of hurricane strength. And then where the brighter colors are, that's where those -- those thunderstorms are really organized. And that's where you get that squally, dusty weather that Orelon's been talking about. So...

CALLAWAY: Right in the middle of that is Anderson Cooper. Let's bring him back in. GRIFFIN: Yes, Anderson is just...

COOPER: I'll tell you. I keep -- I keep looking for those bright colors. I've not seen any of those bright colors. All I'm seeing is wind and rain and wind and rain and a lot of -- a lot of darkness.

CALLAWAY: I don't think people realize that unless they have stood in front of the camera lights like you are with no power behind you, you really can't see anything except the camera -- the camera light.

COOPER: That's true. And you know, frankly, if we turned out our camera lights, we wouldn't be able to see anything at all, because though some parts of Melbourne apparently are from last report I have from Chad Myers, which is about an hour ago, they still have electricity, this area does not seem to have electricity, around the marina.

So our lights are really the only lights that I'm able to see at all. So you know, if those went out, we really wouldn't see anything at all. It'd be pitch black.

GRIFFIN: Anderson, are you going to just stay where you are throughout the night? Are you pretty much stuck?

COOPER: Well, yes, I think we are. I mean, I may try to venture out a little bit if we get some cables out there. I'm not sure. Bill Hemmer is probably going to come and relieve me. That's the plan at least, around 6 a.m., because I started around 3 p.m. yesterday.

But yes, I think we're pretty much going to stay here. You know, what determines it a lot is the location of our satellites truck, our massive satellite truck with the big dish on top. Moving it in this kind of weather is just simply not a good idea.

So we've been in and around this marina for -- since 3 p.m. this afternoon, when I began. We will probably stay here, at least through my shift ending around 6 p.m. this morning.

CALLAWAY: Anderson, you were talking earlier before we interrupted to bring John in for an update about what you're hearing, what you're smelling. I know it's frightening for you, but imagine for those people who are holed up in their home or in shelters.

COOPER: Yes.

CALLAWAY: Tell us again what -- what you're experiencing there.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, it's one of the creepiest things about being out here, and I'm glad I have those lights, because a lot of people are, you know, sitting in their homes, sitting in their bathrooms, in their bathtubs, sitting in their closets with their families, with their little kids.

You know, they have no lights. They've got no air conditioning. They have nothing. The windows are boarded up. It is hot. It is musty. It is very, very uncomfortable.

And -- and your mind starts to play tricks on you, because you hear these sounds. And you start to think, "Well, what was that?" You hear the crackling of wood or you hear what sounds like metal bending.

And you suddenly think, you know, if something does come flying out of the darkness and hit my house. Something -- I'm wondering, is there something that's just going to come out of nowhere, you know, and smack -- smack me.

And you can only imagine not -- not being -- I mean, outside, at least there's something of a blessing, because you kind of see what's around you. When you're inside your home, all you hear is those sounds. And really, your mind does start to play tricks with you.

And the smell, as well. It's like -- right now we're smelling, it smells like an electrical fire, something burning. It may be related to these transformers we've been seeing blow. But at this point, you can't really tell. All you smell is this sort of wafting odor of something burning. And it just adds to sort of the surrealness of it all.

GRIFFIN: Anderson, we're going to bring in Ed Lavandera in Lake Okeechobee while we have him. We've had trouble with this signal. So let's go to Ed while he's there.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're in Lake Okeechobee.

We're here in Lake Okeechobee. I'm sorry. I've been looking off to my left here, because I keep hearing sheets of metal kind of flying by and I'm trying to get a sense of where that might be.

Last time we talked to you, we had talked about hoping that the eye of the storm was a little bit closer. The winds aren't as intense as they were the last time we spoke with you here in Lake Okeechobee.

Well, there goes those metal sheets again. I apologize.

But -- but it has slowed down a little bit, so we hope that that means that we're anticipating the arrival of -- sorry, I apologize. It's right by us. I don't know if you can hear that. Big old metal sheets just kind of flying down the parking lot here. It's been like this throughout the night.

And you know, we stand here. I think John Zarrella mentioned this a little while ago. As you're looking into the lens of the camera and doing this report, your eyes have a hard time adjusting to what's around you. You don't really see what the debris is that is flying around.

And about an hour ago, we heard, you know, a light post here in the parking lot just collapse and fall right over. And -- and the light there exploding, as well.

It was completely dark here. The light had been out since about 10 p.m. at night here. We anticipate, you know, very few cars that we've seen kind of driving up and down the road, mostly emergency vehicles. Although we haven't had a chance to assess just what kind of damage has been done here in this area.

But the rain has been relentless for the last couple of hours. And the wind really blowing hard, as well. So we could really use that break of the eye of the storm to kind of -- to give everybody a break here.

Because you guys have been talking about, this storm is just so slow and it takes so long to move. I can't remember the last time I covered a hurricane where you just -- you were in the front part of the storm and just felt like forever. And it really does start to take a toll on you, especially at this late hour.

You know, we're here at the hotel. We know there's still quite a number of people that are still awake, just having a hard time sleeping tonight as they hear the wind howling above them and also just the -- the constant sound of the wind and the constant sound of the rain beating down on the building.

At one point, some of the walls were shaking. The winds were blowing hard over here.

So as we wait for the sun to rise, the sun to come up here this morning, of course, about 35, 40 miles inland from where -- inland from where we are, the flooding is going to be -- is going to be the major concern. And officials here say they're expecting about 10-12 inches of rain, which could cause a lot of our major flooding in a lot of low-lying areas.

It's a very low-lying area around Lake Okeechobee. Lake Okeechobee is a very shallow lake, and it kind of spreads off into the flat land. So there are a lot of trailer -- trailer parks around this area and a lot of low-lying homes in low-lying areas. And that will be a major concern here in the next -- in the next couple of hours.

Back to you guys.

CALLAWAY: All right, Ed. We can hear that metal that you were talking about moving by you. I hope you move to safety there.

GRIFFIN: Let's bring in John Zarrella, who's in West Palm Beach riding this thing out -- John.

CALLAWAY: Wow.

ZARRELLA: Yes, I can barely hear you now. Really going through a major squall here. Wow. It's -- clearly, winds gusting at maybe 85, 90 miles an hour right now.

So a huge blow up, transformer a few minutes ago. There's more debris flying through the air again here now. Definitely about as bad as we have seen it all night right now.

Now for a second here it's calmed down a little bit, but you can see there's a lot of debris here, and the water around me. Mostly tree limbs in this water. And literally, at times when that wind kicks up, there are waves that are created right here in the parking lot and across the street there, behind me. The whole street there, Flagler, is completely covered in water.

So we're getting hammered here. It's pretty clear, I think, to the viewers who are watching this with us tonight that this was probably about as bad as we've -- we've seen it. I don't know if you can still see me or hear me.

CALLAWAY: Yes, we can. And John, you know, if you were tuning in at 8 p.m. last night, this is live. This is not a replay. This is continued since yesterday evening, John, that you have taken this kind of -- of storm. This kind of wind and rain.

ZARRELLA: Yes, I know. I keep looking for the Wicked Witch of the West to go by.

GRIFFIN: Yes, that bicycle's going to fly by any second, I think.

ZARRELLA: I wouldn't be a bit surprised. Hopefully, it's only a bicycle and not any more than that.

But yes, it's -- it's -- it certainly has kicked up again, and I know, as Rob was saying a little while ago, certainly, you know, and Jacqui was saying before that, if there's a back side to the storm -- I can't even look into it right now. It's just naturally stinging.

The back side of these things are oftentimes, certainly these big lumbering broad systems are worse than the front side of the storm. And I can tell you right now, you won't get any argument from me there. The backside of this one is clearly worse than what we experienced, you know, the first four hours of this pounding.

It's the second four hours now, going into the ninth hour of this kind of weather. This is by far about the worse that we've seen.

I'm glad we're able to get a picture out for the viewers to see this, because, you know, people need to understand that, you know, what we're looking at right here is still only a Category Two hurricane, you know, with winds gusting here in West Palm Beach, you know, maybe to 90, 100 miles an hour. But no more than that. And certainly nowhere to the extent of, you know, the winds that went through Punta Gorda during Charley or what the folks down in south Daytona (ph) experienced during Hurricane Andrew.

Imagine 155 mile an hour sustained wind when this is what it looks like at 90, 100 mile an hour winds here.

CALLAWAY: We should also add, though, John, this...

ZARRELLA: You get a pretty good idea.

CALLAWAY: This is no easy task for you to stand in this. You are no small man. Definitely, an average man would not be able to -- to withstand that kind of wind. I think let people know you're a big, strong guy.

ZARRELLA: Well -- well, you know what? I've been doing this a lot of years. I think I'm getting too old for this.

CALLAWAY: Getting to old for it, you said?

GRIFFIN: One point two million people, customers, out of power right now in the state of Florida, 200,000 people in Red Cross shelters. And our John Zarrella, a larger man than most.

Catherine Callaway, she says -- but I'm not sure how you should take that, Zarrella.

CALLAWAY: He's tall. I'm 5'3". I'd be hanging from that palm tree.

MARCIANO: He's -- that's technique. He's been doing this awhile. He gets knees in and leans in.

CALLAWAY: Yes, he's got the stance down. We're most impressed with your ability, John.

GRIFFIN: Rob, tell us what's happening.

ZARRELLA: I've spent a lot of years covering these things.

GRIFFIN: Rob, show us on the radar what's happening.

MARCIANO: Well, the latest reports out of West Palm Beach are winds out of the south-southwest gusting to 75 miles an hour. So we're getting a hurricane.

And then what he's going through, he could easily be getting gusts to 80 or 85. And what we just saw there, that certainly looks like it could be the case.

The center of this thing is here. Here's West Palm Beach. Back half of the storm is what John is getting right now. And the winds are out of this direction.

And also, one of the other observations is that -- that the pressure, the atmospheric pressure at West Palm Beach is rising rapidly. And that -- that happens as a massive storm begins to exit, and that's often a good sign, rising rapidly pressure, because that means that better weather is on the way.

Unfortunately, this storm is so big it's going to take awhile for that better weather to get to West Palm Beach.

So why -- why is that pressure rising? Well, if you've got winds out of the south-southwest, all that air -- I mean, that's all wind is, is air that's moving -- is rushing into the center of this thing and trying to fill up an area that's an area of low pressure. Trying to fill up that hole in the atmosphere.

So as that happens, the pressure outside of the eye begins to rise rapidly, as that wind tries to make its way into that hole in the atmosphere. And it does so at this time at 65 miles an hour sustained, gusting to 75 right where John Zarrella is in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Actually, West Palm Beach is being hammered all night by -- it's unbelievable. And they'll eventually get better weather here, but -- not for the next couple of hours, this thing moving so slowly that the -- -- around the eye wall is hanging around a little longer than most would like, don't you think?

CALLAWAY: Yes. We've got to take a break. More of Hercules Zarrella when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GRIFFIN: Our coverage continues now on Hurricane Frances. Our reporters are repositioning. We're trying to get them in a better spot, so we're going to dip into WSVN, which is an affiliate station in Miami.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... in portions of the state. In and around West Palm Beach, we are seeing those heavy thunder storms, feeder bands, circling around Vero Beach and over toward Orlando, where we're going to look at most of this activity over the next 24 hours or so, well into Labor Day Monday.

Here's a little closer look at radar. You can see strong, heavy bands of showers circling around Fort Pierce, right around Martin County, as well as St. Lucy County. Quite a bit of rain already over the last 24 hours. More than six and a half inches in and around the West Palm Beach area.

Again, this circulation will continue over the next 24 to 36 hours as this storm progresses north-northwest at eight miles per hour at this point.

Wind speeds still around 105 miles per hour, with the maximum sustained winds still a Category Two storm. And you can see here Fort Pierce getting the breadth of the storm and just to the north of that area, we still have a long ways to go before the storm eventually comes to an end.

We've got very strong feeder bands right off to the south there that will continue to ride up along toward the north. On West Palm Beach, again, winds out of the south-southwest, Fort Lauderdale, also out of the southwest, looking to be stronger as we move through the afternoon.

Tropical storm force winds in and around West Palm Beach at this area, 54 miles per hour west, up to 67 still for West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale with 41 and 36 mile per hour winds in Miami.

Accumulated rainfall, again a very impressive amount for West Palm Beach, a little over eight inches of rain there. Fort Lauderdale with a little over an inch, as well as Miami. But we anticipated more of this rain... CALLAWAY: We've been watching WSVN. We're going to pull away now and check in with Gary Tuchman, who's been in Fort Pierce.

GRIFFIN: That's right.

CALLAWAY: There we go. Good to see you, Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the lightest winds we've had the last hour. And it's just been over the last 15 minutes, and I don't expect it to last. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) rained that hard either.

You can see behind me, that's part of the hotel that's ended up on the ground. That's a small portion of the rubble of this hotel that's in the parking lot surrounding this establishment. All 365 degrees around, we have rubble from the hotel's courtyard and the areas close to the hotel have been decimated, basically.

The particular rooms we're in, none of them have been affected, but (UNINTELLIGIBLE) talking about a short time ago, was that some time also. And he said he was in bed and all of a sudden, he felt like he was getting drenched. And he looked up, and the water was leaking from the ceiling (ph) right onto his bed.

That gives you an idea of what's happening. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hotel. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) happened in the other places, some of the homes that aren't as well fortified as this in the area. A lot of people still in their homes.

At least 5,000 people went into shelters here in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) County. A lot of people didn't. I lot of people said they wanted to stay close to home (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for a good three and a half hours, we've had sustained winds that are between 90 miles an hour. According to the emergency operations center here (UNINTELLIGIBLE), 105 miles per hour for a short period of time. It is very scary and the thing you keep hearing from the meteorologist from CNN is that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) part of the storm. That part is still to come, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

GRIFFIN: I'm very glad to hear you Gary. We are going to have to move on and deal with these -- I don't think Gary can hear either. Anderson Cooper was repositioning himself are we going to bring in Anderson right now? There he is Anderson you had to move.

COOPER: We moved a little bit, the wind started changing on us a little bit though. But they are still moving very strongly, I got to step out, I was in sort of a blocked area right there. I don't know if you can tell, if you can really get a sense of just how strong these winds are, we are having much more rain now at this point. Really haven't seen this much rain for quite some hours and it is extremely painful, I mean it feels like little pin pricks on your face.

It is just whipping straight horizontally, just cutting across here. We've been seeing the gusts - the gusts really seem to pick up but maybe it's these bands that we keep hearing about. It will pick for a short period of time then sort of die down. Though frankly even when it dies down the winds are still extraordinarily strong, but this -- you know we've been seeing this just hour after hour. This is probably the worst it's been for quite some time. Probably the worst it's been overall in the storm.

And we are hoping it is not going to get much worse. We are hoping that this is about the level it is going to be for a few hours as we've been talking about. We're not expecting to actually see any kind of an eye here so we are not going to have really any let up. We are just going to see more of this sort of wind, more of this sort of rain for several more hours.

CALLAWAY: Difficult to talk with that much rain and wind blowing in your face as well. Isn't it?

COOPER: Well it is not the easiest thing in the world. But you know -

GRIFFIN: Gary Tuchman maybe actually feeling some of these, he was in a bit of a lull. But you are north of there Anderson and as predicted by Chad Meyers and Rob Marciano, Jacqui Jeras that worst Melbourne is receiving is at this hour. It is 4:30 in the morning and Chad predicted it would be about 4:00 and you are getting the backside of the storm right now.

COOPER: Yes we are, I'm sorry I keep looking over there because I keep hearing some medal crinkling, some of the roofing material is being ripped off there, but I think it is a little bit further away from me so I think we are fine.

Yes this is about the time we had anticipated getting the worst of the storm. And it certainly does feel that way. Although you know it really does, it comes in gusts. Right now it seems to actually have sort of died down a little while I'm talking to you. Right before I came to you the wind had really picked up. So you know it comes and it goes but it just keeps on raining. Though we really have not seen as much rain as I think a lot of people anticipated here, at least in this area.

I mean Gary Tuchman you know was talking about torrential rains; we have maybe seen smatterings of torrential rains every now and then. It has mainly been sort of this fine mist that has been going on now for several hours. But certainly the rains are picking up about now.

CALLAWAY: All right, Anderson Cooper. We are going to check in with Rob now to get the latest on the location of this storm, where it is headed, where are we? Daylight a few hours away Rob.

MARCIANO: It hasn't moved a whole lot. Although it is moving so that is encouraging.

CALLAWAY: Well that hasn't changed since last night, has it?

MARCIANO: It is crawling. Hey I want to touch on rainfall totals because Anderson mentioned that this viper radar has the ability to estimate what has fallen since the storm began and we will just point out a few areas for you. Orlando obviously not seeing nearly as much rain as the darker greens down to our south. Fort Pierce for instance rainfall what does it say 4 inches already and then even farther to the south a little bit more than that.

But out towards -- out in the ocean eight inches of rain falling, has fallen so that still has yet to come in. So places like Fort Pierce likely to see twice if not three times as much rain as they already seen. Lets just slide the map down a little bit Greg and see what else. What is that purple? Give me a level on the purple there. How much rainfall that is? Nine inches there. OK, so there is still a tremendous amount of rain that is just off shore, six inches has fallen or better at West Palm Beach and these are estimates. Could be a little bit more, could be a little bit less.

So rainfall is going to be an issue, you go down to Miami the southern half of the storm and lesser amounts of rainfall falling there. Tampa an inch of rain, estimations and Fort Myers much much less than that. Tampa getting - probably going to see a little bit more from this storm than they did from Charley three weeks back which gave them a pretty good scare.

All right lets switch sources we will go to GR11, which one is that Greg? 114 and this is I don't want to mess you too much up in the control room, I will play with this for a while. Fort Pierce up to Melbourne, here is where Anderson Cooper is again we are little less than a half hour ago bright colors bad in weather, and that is why he is getting hammered right now with gusty, gusty winds. Certainly the tropical storm if not hurricane force.

The center of this thing still ways away from him by about, well about 70 or 80 miles. This will slowly make its way off to the west, northwest at about eight miles an hour. That is the currant movement from this thing.

All right tornado watch in effect until thing moves away. So tornado watch in effect pretty much all day long to the northern half of this system. Look at how it is starting to reach up through Daytona Beach and eventually up to the border of Florida and Georgia. Again probably the most impressive thing with this storm is how wide it is. How large it is and how far out the tropical storm and hurricane force winds go with this thing. And of course slow movement can mean headaches as far rainfall is concerned.

All right lets go through the track category 2 storm north, northwest move at seven, eight miles an hour. Winds of 105 miles an hour and again it made landfall over night from between West Palm Beach and Fort Pierce. And as it continues it's west, northwest movement it will decrease in tentatively to category 1 because it gets away from the water and then eventually early Monday morning getting back off the Gulf of Mexico and across Appalachacola and Panama City, Dustin Beach and into parts of southern Mississippi, and Alabama so that is still the forecast track.

That hasn't changed a whole lot and by then winds will be down to about 60 miles an hour. But we have to get fully on shore before we start to see those winds decrease. These are the latest wind gusts for you, 51 mile an hour wind gusts in Orlando so if the center of the storm is here they are already gusting to 47 miles an hour in Daytona Beach, again giving you an idea of how large this storm is.

Tampa really nowhere near the center of this thing 30-mile hour winds, and Fort Myers at 38. Miami reporting at 36 mile an hour wind gusts. And West Palm Beach 68, although I've seen other reports that had wind gusts in West Palm Beach to over 75 miles an hour to about 80 miles an hour.

All right lets go to PA7 if we could and we will show you that cool shot of the Doppler radar again. Bright colors bad, there is Fort Pierce still Fort Pierce pretty much in the center of circulation right now. A bit of lull for those folks, but they will get the back half of this thing as it slowly makes it parch off to the west. Notice guys that most of the heavier rain has dwelled to the north. That has been the -- how this storm has been made up really from the past three of four days.

Once it got knocked down from a category four storm and began to loose it's intensity the southern and southwestern part of this storm was really -- has been knocked out of it, torn out and most of the wind and most of the rain has been bumped up to the northern half and eastern half of this storm. And that is fairly typical as these things get into the higher latitudes as they encounter some westerly winds in the upper levels of the atmosphere. So that is why we are seeing more action to the north.

Brighter colors look at that some reds about to head up through Daytona and certainly this squall is probably what is causing that wind gust in Daytona. We will zoom in just a little bit and show you exactly where that is. St. Augustine we've had reporters there for that old, old city. Now they are finally starting to get some action. There is Daytona reds, if oranges and yellows are not good, red is really bad.

GRIFFIN: We will take your word for that Rob. Thank you.

MARCIANO: OK.

CALLAWAY: Lets check in very quickly with WSVN one of our affiliates in Miami and what to do with their coverage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The lights are on. We've seen you know hydrogen's flickering through condominium complex windows so we know some people (UNINTELLIGIBLE) kind of stick around here which (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Not a good idea but they decided to go ahead and do it anyway, because of course with all the evacuation orders that have been put in place, they were hoping that people were abiding by what officials were saying and fortunately that is not always the case. But at least most people did abide by it and are hopefully safe with family and friends in those shelters as well.

But at this point everything pretty much still coming down and what is also interesting to note is if you look at the street and just for a split second the wind will change directions as if it is going in a circular motion witch it is and it is part one of one of those wonderful rain bands that we have been feeling though out the past couple of days. And it is just over a couple of seconds it is just completely changing. And actually you can see it pouring down at the street, you can just watch all the water as it is almost making a circular (UNINTELLIGIBLE) motion right there, if you guys can see that at home.

It is very interesting just to watch all of that. But it is also even as in some cases interesting it is to watch, it is also very, very dangerous because you never know what could be in those winds and what kind of debris that is flying. And in fact just as you are showing all of that I'm going to step out of the camera and pull some of the things that are all on the ground around here. We have been finding a number of items of debris that have been kind of like hitting us left and right.

And this is a piece of palm trees right here, it just ended up hitting me on the leg real quick when I got here. But this is just one of things that if it was going fast enough as we all know it could just end up hitting someone (UNINTELLIGIBLE) glass, or if they had a car. Hitting their car. So it still's a very dangerous situation. This is something that officials throughout the area, authorities have been stating to people that is why they ask people to stay in shelters and stay with their friends. So they can avoid conditions like this.

Because you just never know what can happen when you are out here. You may think its kind of cool to be out in the middle of a hurricane. It is not; you may think it is interesting to be able to watch something, a piece of nature close up. But really it is not, it is about being safe and that is the first and primary thing you need to think about. And also about being patient as well. Because we've been going through this for a very long time. And unfortunately a lot of times when you know right from home you want to be home, you want to be in (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

You did have to evacuate, but it is still going to take a little bit of time. And that is why we are out here to remind you of what is going on and just to let you know step-by-step what is taking place throughout the area. So that you are aware of what is going on and when it is time to come back here. We will let you know in order to keep you safe. And of course some of that information should be coming down from the EOC later on today as was mentioned throughout the newscast. Throughout earlier this morning.

Those are some big decisions whether people will finally be able to come home later on this afternoon, if things kind of die down. It really just depends as all of meteorologists at Channel 7 have been talking about all night long. Is how fast this storm is moving? It is moving kind of slow, so we just don't know when those decisions of when the airports will open. When those decisions when the evacuations will be lifted. All of that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by both on the EOC and Miami data as well Broward County. And they are also making a decision on if they wait a little longer to determine if people would be able to go back home.

Sending their own crews out there and accessing the damage, and trying to clean up things. Because coming from EOC this morning where I was and coming down here. It was kind of difficult getting over here because there was debris scattered everywhere. I was going from plantation all the way to Pompano Beach, and it took quite a longer time then it normally would. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) There were a couple of power lines down and it is really a dangerous situation for anyone to have to travel through.

That is why we are out here to make sure you are aware like I said of what is going on and to keep you safe and just to keep you aware. And of course we will be continuing to do that through out the day. And to give you all the updates you need to know about (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

Back to you in the studio.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you know that you said that there is nothing good about being out there in a storm. Nothing good about it either. And speaking of bad, going from bad to worse Christine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes we've been talking about this system sporadically and his name is Ivan and he has just gotten a little bit stronger as you are looking at this live picture out of Melbourne, (UNINTELLIGIBLE). With this important information, Leda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is right we are talking about Ivan as well. However, I do want to show you the wind gusts that we were talking about with -

GRIFFIN: Live coverage from WSVN in Miami. We're going to back with our own John Zarrella braving the elements after a break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CALLAWAY: CNN's John Zarrella he was battling the elements in West Palm the wind and the rain had picked up. John are you there?

ZARRELLA: I'm still here. And yes I'm down here at the curb and the water is over the curbs, I guess there is about six inches of water here in the streets. If I could walk out a little further and we're talking about the saturation of the ground. It is absolutely just flooded here threw all this grass and more water here. And you know the rain continues to just pound us and in fact there is a little bird trying to fly off this.

I feel sorry for that little bird trying to take refuge in one of those down branches, on the limbs of the trees. So, you can see how when those gusts pick up like that one is right now, how it just whips the water even right out of the parking lot here. These winds are just gusting; they got to be probably in that 75 to 80 mile an hour range.

What we've seen over the last hour or so here. And it is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it is not stopping, it is not letting up at all, just when you think it is going to let up then you get hit with another gust of wind out here. And you know really all we can see is just pitch-blackness everywhere around us. Other than the lights that we have lighting up this one little area. Beyond that everything is just absolutely pitch black in all directions. Off to my left is Palm Beach and I can't see anything out there in Palm Beach any longer. And now earlier today there was a $3.5 million yacht that had broken loose from it's anchors, it was anchored out in the inter coastal and when it broke loose they tried to moor it up against this dock that is just over here at a yacht club. They managed to get there, but I'm wondering if it is still going to be still there in the morning when we finally get some light.

Where sailboats that have broken loose earlier today. Way before it got like this. And had actually gone, then floated under, pushed underneath the bridge that goes over to Palm Beach. And the mass actually broke off and there was at least one mass that was lying across the bridge that goes over to Palm Beach. So certainly a lot damage to boats here. But fortunately and of course I again can't speak for what is going on in other parts around us but we haven't heard fortunately what you would hear of any structural damage that hasn't been what you would say roof tiles flying off, or pieces of heavy concrete debris that would be coming off buildings.

It is primarily then trees, and branches and a few street signs about just at the end of our last live shot. A street sign went down which was a little disconcerting when pieces of metal start flying by. But did go down just past the stop sign out there, flowing down the street in the water. So, but here you go you can see again now it is picking up again here.

GRIFFIN: We want to bring in Alfred Dea, he is public information with Florida's Emergency Management Office. Mr. Dea.

ALFRED DEA, FLORIDA'S EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: Hello, how are you doing Drew?

GRIFFIN: Well we are hanging in there as you are too. I wonder, I know that you want to talk about the recovery efforts. But do you have any reports of any body killed or injured yet in this storm?

DEA: So far we've had no confirmed reports of fatalities.

GRIFFIN: That is good news. Lets talk about what is going to happen the governor promised a response that will be massive. How have you geared up for what is going to be a major cleanup from the south to the north?

DEA: We have activated the National Guard, 4,000 members of the National Guard as well as state and local volunteers. We have also amassed emergency supplies throughout the disaster area. So that they will be in place for the recovery effort when that begins tomorrow.

CALLAWAY: Have some 200,000 people in shelters, 2.8 million people evacuated. As soon as the sun comes up tomorrow morning and that is just a couple hours away a lot of these people are going to want to head home.

DEA: Well we -- to start with we certainly would like them to remain patient. Some of these areas will still be inaccessible to many of our residents. Some of them won't be able to go back home immediately. They should await official word before they go home. GRIFFIN: Mr. Dea I wonder what the process will be though, these people as you know are sick of sticking it out in these shelters. They have been patient. What will be the process to say yes you and this particularly area can go home, but however you in Fort Pierce for perhaps cannot. How will they find that out?

DEA: First we will begin an evaluation process. Our search and rescue teams will be in the disaster area and taking advantage of them as well as other emergency personnel, fire departments, police departments, sheriff departments. I think very soon after the sun comes up we will have a very good idea of which areas will be open and that information will be made available to the public.

CALLAWAY: We are seeing such a wide path from this storm. Is there any particular area that you will look at first?

DEA: I don't think so. Well let me step back from that. Probably where the storm came a shore first, will probably be the prime area to begin with. However the entire state is affected by this very huge storm. The entire state has had an incredible amount of water dumped on it, as well as very high winds. So we expect pretty wide spread damage through out the state and we will have to evaluate all the areas that were affected by the storm.

GRIFFIN: It is such a wide area that is affected; you mentioned you have all these volunteers. Are these volunteers somehow not effected in their own personal lives that they can go out and help others at this time?

DEA: Quite a few of them are affected. And many of them have had to put their personal needs and concerns on hold in order to help others. They are very much to be commended for doing that. Many of them do take this as a responsibility and we very much appreciate it.

CALLAWAY: Speaking for people who live outside of Florida, who have loved ones there. Want to talk to them on the phone, want to know when they are going to be able to contact them. What are you hearing from the utility, about not just power, but phone connections?

DEA: Power, we lost power to well over a million people. The power companies are restoring those as fast as they can. A loss of phone coverage hasn't been quite as extensive. But still relatives may find it difficult to get in touch with their loved ones. We have an emergency number for anyone to call. And that number is 1-800-342- 3557, that is probably their best bet for getting any information on someone they are concerned about in the effected areas.

CALLAWAY: OK, we will get that number on the screen for everybody if we can.

GRIFFIN: Just one more question Mr. Dea before we let you go. The recovery from Charley is still going on, the governor vowed that there will be no diversion of any of those recovery efforts. How could you possibly have enough resources to handle what is being done to Florida right now? And not divert some of that recovery effort that Charley is going through? DEA: Well the areas effected by Charley and those affected by Frances have all been declared disaster areas. And we do have enough supplies, enough equipment in place to handle both. The tragedy of this is that one storm came on the heels of another and they will compile the damage that we will see throughout the state harbor. We are prepared, we saw these storms coming and we are ready.

CALLAWAY: Before we go, one question about the shelters. There is some 400 shelters, what are you hearing about the conditions in these shelters now and how they are making it through this long storm?

DEA: I can't really say that I've heard a lot about how things are going there, however we do know that those shelters have been rated as being totally prepared for just such a situation that we are facing. They are ready for people to stay there really as long as they need to. We are prepared to resupply and restock them as needed. And again we do encourage people to be patient, to use those shelters and be safe until the situation is more clear.

CALLAWAY: Just amazing numbers, 200,000 people in those shelters tonight.

GRIFFIN: Yes. Alfred Dea with the Florida Emergency Management Center, we certainly thank you for your information.

DEA: Thank you very much Drew.

CALLAWAY: We'll take a break and we will continue our coverage of Hurricane Frances in just a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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