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CNN NEWSROOM

Northeast Beginning to Feel Winter Storm

Aired February 8, 2013 - 15:30   ET

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


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: As I mentioned, here we are bottom of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Forty million people in the path of this winter storm, could be record-setting, according to Chad Myers. We are going to talk to Chad in a minute.

Want to let you know we have Julian Cummings, who has been providing us these live pictures, as he's been roaming the streets of Boston, which he will not be able to do in about half-an-hour from now, per Governor Patrick.

Also, we have Ashleigh Banfield. She's in Greenwich, Connecticut, for us. So we will check the conditions there.

But, Chad Myers, let me just begin with you.

When is the worst of this supposed to hit?

But, Chad Myers, let me just begin with you. When is the worst of this supposed to hit?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: I would say probably 10:00 to midnight tonight. Now, that depends where you are, of course, but somewhere around the 10:00 hour, this low is going to be as close to the coast as it is going to get.

And that's when the fire hose of snow is going to come pouring into New Hampshire.

BALDWIN: Fire hose of snow?

MYERS: Yeah, literally. It's going to be like a snow machine. It's going to be picking up -- you've heard of lake-effect snow. If you're around Buffalo, you know all about it. It's when the cold air comes across the lake and then there's snow kind of gets dumped on the land, downwind of the lake.

Well, this could do the same thing. This storm will pick up moisture from the Atlantic Ocean, and that moisture will enhance the storm more and enhance the potential for the humidity or the amount of water in the air and then just dump it as it gets in here, into Portland, into places like the upper elevations here of New Hampshire, Boston, Rhode Island.

I just listened to your interview of the guy from Pawtucket.

BALDWIN: Right.

MYERS: OK, so, and I hadn't looked at Pawtucket. It's got kind of a crazy little airport out there. Twenty-seven inches is the forecast for that guy who said now that his streets are getting covered up. Every couple of minutes they go by with the street sweeper, with the plow, and he just can't -- they just can't keep up with it at all.

Fifty-five-to-70-mile-per-hour winds right along the shore, five-to- seven foot storm surge. Blizzard warnings, obviously, still going on for the people there and that's going to continue.

BALDWIN: Actually, Chad, let me jump in because I'm now hearing we have Ali Velshi. He's down the Cape. He's in Cape Cod.

Ali, what are you seeing?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, listen, it's what your local news would call a wintry mix. It's snow, right now. A few minutes ago, it was rain.

You can see a little of accumulation here. I'm on the south side of Cape Cod. This is south behind me. The eastern end of Cape Cod over there. And what we're expecting here is probably up to about 16 inches of snow. It'll be high tide, as Chad says, right about when the storm gets the closest.

So, we're going to have high tide. We're going to have big winds. We're going to get a lot of accumulation over here.

In Massachusetts, as you mentioned, in half an hour, goes into a state-wide executive order for no nonessential traffic, no commercial traffic, no private traffic. So, everybody's got to get off the roads.

A lot of Twitter activity about whether or not that's legal and how it'll be enforced, but the bottom line is the governor has done that. It's the first time, Brooke, since 1978.

There has not been a lot of this activity around here. Folks around here not quite sure what it means. We are expecting -- you can see the high tide when it comes in, comes right to about here.

So, we've still got a long way to go and not a whole lot of accumulation. We're right around freezing right now, which is why it snows sometimes and it rains sometimes. So, we're not sure whether we're getting two feet of snow or a foot of snow.

But at the moment, people are getting to the stores. We've noticed people going out, filling their tanks, their gas stations around here, with lineups and without gas. We still were able to get supplies, but a lot of store keepers told us people were going in, getting water, getting stuff to stay home overnight. But that's where we are right now. It's anticipation building. A lot of attention now is on Boston, where they really want to get people home, and out of the -- out of harm's way.

Here on Cape Cod, 500,000, 600,000 people often in the summer, about a half of that, a third to half of that in the winter, so everybody who's here seems to know how to deal with this, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I'm so glad you're there because, yeah, we keep talking about the snow. We talk about the wind, the zero visibility, but also the flooding is going to be potentially a massive, massive concern.

VELSHI: Yes.

BALDWIN: Ali Velshi, my thanks to you.

Let's skip to Connecticut now, Ashleigh Banfield in Greenwich. And I see the snow. Tell me what it looks like, Ashleigh.

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's pretty. But if Ali calls this the wintry mix, as the local news people do, the national news people call it rotten.

Because I'm telling you, driving from New York to Greenwich, and I do this drive every day, I had to go about half the speed. I saw about four accidents, nearly got into another one with a guy who was going way too fast because not that many people know how to drive in this stuff. It's a mess, Brooke.

So, this is the lovely central Greenwich, normally teeming with people shopping. But I think a lot of people have taken the governor's advice, and that is don't go outside.

He's thinking of shutting down the highways anyway, Brooke, so that might be a good reason as to why you see Starbucks even closing down here.

And if I need to tell you how much snow has been falling, I'm going to do it this way. I figured this might be a good measurement throughout the day. There's a nice monument here at the old post office in central Greenwich.

It's got one, two, three, four big steps. My guess, if the governor is right and if the weather service is right, we're going to get upwards of two-to-three feet in Connecticut. Could get up to the second step, maybe drift up to the third step.

So, early in the day, Brooke, we're doing it this way, he second greater way, via the president's ruler. OK? So, here we go.

BALDWIN: I thought I saw a ruler in your right hand.

BANFIELD: You did. You did.

All right, we're at Adams, OK, Brooke? And I'm not talking John Adams. I'm talking John Quincy Adams. It's about three inches right there. So, that's where we are right now.

But it is starting to really fall. I know it's funny. And it is funny because it's pretty and lovely, but the truth is, if you're inside, keep the kids inside. These branches snap real bad when the hurricane force winds start coming up later.

And, of course, power is expected to be really, really an issue. Three-point-five million people in Connecticut, can I tell you, October of 2011, it was the Halloween storm. I remember it drove me bananas with my kids.

We had so much snow 800,000 people lost their power. This is supposed to be one of the 10 worst storms ever.

BALDWIN: On that point, let me jump in and let me ask you, Ashleigh. And I was talking to someone in Rhode Island, I mean, look, a lot of people like you who live in Connecticut, you're used to this stuff. It happens. It's happened multiple times.

But does this at all feel different? When we hear the words, like, "record-breaking," does it feel different?

BANFIELD: You know, I'm from Winnipeg, Canada, so this is a walk in the park.

BALDWIN: You're not the person I should be asking then.

BANFIELD: Yeah, really. What's your problem, Brooke? Come on, get over it.

BALDWIN: Here's the Atlanta girl asking this question.

BANFIELD: Yeah, a Southern bell.

It doesn't feel different, no, but we're in the early offings here. These flakes are pretty and the wind hasn't even really started.

It's when the wind starts hitting these trees. You can see these big, beautiful, old Connecticut trees, some of them like 75-, 100-years- old. This is the problem, Brooke.

And I've got to be honest with you. Six years, I've been living in Connecticut. In that time, I've lost ten trees on my own property. I don't have a big property, OK? I've lost ten trees between 20- and 50-feet-high. Those are big trees.

They get laden with heavy snow. The massive winds start coming, the ground's wet and, thud, they take out all the power lines. We lose power every week, it seems, and they're really dangerous for people who are out on the roads, walking or playing or doing those kinds of things.

So, my kids' school is canceled at 5:00 a.m. and that was before a flake had fallen.

BALDWIN: Ashleigh Banfield, stay warm. We now have the official measurement at the John Quincy Adams mark on Ashleigh Banfield's ruler.

Thank you very much, Ashleigh. We'll come back to you.

Meantime, let's go to Julian Cummings. He's been driving. And, Julian, you have about 24 more minutes, as I sneak a peek on my clock, before you are in big, big trouble with Duval Patrick for being on those roads.

Tell me where you are right now.

JULIAN CUMMINGS, CNN PRODUCER (via telephone): Right now, we're in the back bay of Boston, alongside the big Boston common park.

We're seeing a lot of plows out, but only in some areas. And Boston's a winding city, so some areas are very, very teeny roads and I haven't been (INAUDIBLE) and the city is getting quieter and quieter as the snow gets harder and harder.

BALDWIN: What about people? I'm not looking at people in your shot. Have you seen people out and about?

CUMMINGS (via telephone): About an hour and a half ago, there were people out walking, still trying to brave it, but the winds are starting to pick up a little bit and it is turning into a ghost town very, very quickly around downtown Boston.

Some residents are still trying to get their belongings in order in front of their homes and so on, but it's getting quiet here.

BALDWIN: OK. I saw that TV station. You're right across from the state house, I think.

Julian Cummings, safe driving, thank you.

We have to talk, also, so many of you are being affected. If you are even thinking about flying to this area, forget about it. More on travel delays right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: All right, we've been talking about some of these travel delays. I want to take you straight to Washington, D.C., already impacted, a lot of canceled on those big boards in the airport.

Rene Marsh, at Reagan for me. Rene?

RENE MARSH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brooke. We're seeing the ripple effects here at Reagan National Airport.

Let's look again. Actually the number of cancellations have picked up since the last time we spoke here. It depends where you're going. There are flights leaving Reagan, but if you're going to New York, going to Boston, going to Rhode Island, you're really in bad luck at that point.

We can tell you that total at this point, arrivals and departures as far as cancellations go from Reagan, the total right now is about 140. That number has gone up a bit since we last spoke.

This line, there was one, earlier, and we spoke to a bunch of people who they were actually on their flight, they were seated. They had their seat belts on and that is when the message came on that they're flight had been canceled.

So, we spoke to a lot of people earlier today, and which they were trying to figure out what are they going to for the next three days because that's what a lot of the airline workers were telling them is that, look, you won't be able to get to your destination at least until Sunday, perhaps not even Sunday, Monday.

The lines here, not too bad, perhaps, at this point. People are getting the message, your flight is canceled. We're not seeing very long lines here. Neither there, at the gates or here at the counter because it is probably trickling down and that's a smart thing to do.

If you know you have a flight, know you're going to the Northeast, the advice we have been hearing here is call ahead, find out what the status of your flight is.

Big picture here as far as air travel goes, you talk about airports in the northeast, a lot of airlines are already starting from noon eastern time. They ceased operations, Brooke. So they just simply stopped operating there and we expect to see that continue as the afternoon goes on. Brooke?

BALDWIN: All right, Rene Marsh for us in Washington. Thank you, Rene.

Coming up after the break, we wanted to lift the veil for you and take you inside the weather cube where we have our weather producers and Chad Myers working feverishly to try to get you the best, most up to date information on the blizzard.

We're going to take you inside the cube next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: On big breaking stories like this, we just wanted to lift the veil. We want to show you. Really this is the nerve center. This is the cube. Chad Myers, Shawn (ph), who one of our great weather producers over here, trying to look at the latest models, make sure we get you the best and most up-to-date information.

We should just remind everyone we're going to be covering the storm into the wee hours. I'll be here from midnight till 5:00 in the morning.

You'll be with me for half of that time just so we are with you and we can give you the best information. Quickly, where does this stand right now?

MYERS: Talked about this a little bit ago, about how, where does it get worse? When's the worst part? This is 6:00. We're still pretty far away from the coast here. But let me move you up to 10:00 and his is the fire hose I talked about. This is when Boston gets the most snow between 10:00 and midnight, and they could get two-to-three inches per hour. That's why they want everybody off those roads.

You can't get stick on that roadway, otherwise you can't get out. The national guard's going to have to come get you. We can't have that with a thousand people on roads.

BALDWIN: We have the mayor on the phone. Mayor Thomas Menino joining me.

Mr. Mayor, welcome. Busy day for you. Just have a couple of questions for you, and that first one being, do you -- you're catching a break a little bit with the storm, being that it's really hitting in the weekend.

But what is your biggest concern here?

THOMAS MENINO, MAYOR, BOSTON (via telephone): Well, it's the safety of the people of the city of Boston. And the best thing we all can do today and tomorrow is to stay home and keep them off the roadways. That's the basic part of this.

Stay safe and let our public works crews do their jobs. We have a snow emergency impact, which is a parking ban on main arterials in the city of Boston. You know, public works has over 600 pieces of equipment on the streets. We have 34,000 tons of salt available to use.

So, we're out there -- our crews are out there, public works. We have our 24-hour service that's up there, 635-4500, where people call in with pertinent questions about the storm. If they have any questions, we're going to answer those questions for you.

So, it's just -- we're out there, but we need the public's cooperation and, so far, I see that the roadways are really bare of cars and since earlier this morning. So, I think they're cooperating. We've just got to get through it.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about the cars because we know the governor of your state, Deval Patrick, saying you have to be off the road in 10 minutes. If not, he's going to basically either slap a -- quite a hefty fine or even possibly, as one of our reporters was saying, send you to prison up to a year. That's how serious I know the state of Massachusetts is taking this.

For you in the city of Boston, you mentioned the snow emergency. I want you to reiterate your point about having a parked car on the street.

MENINO (via telephone): Yeah, a parked car on the street is banned in the city of Boston. At this time the main arteries are the signs there. Since we put that into effect at noon time, we've only -- 25 cars have been towed. That's an amazing number, really, when you think about it in a city as large as Boston. So, the people are cooperating.

I mean, we have to stay off the roadways. Let the public works crews do their job. They have the equipment. We've brought extra equipment in. We've brought extra tree equipment in, also, for downed tree lines in the city of Boston.

And, so, just saying to you, you know, that Boston is -- we have a good plan. Now, it's in execution stage.

MYERS: Mr. Mayor, it's Chad Myers here. Yesterday in the news conference, you said 3:30, buses, rail, subways, boats, done in Boston.

Is that still holding up? Is everything done right now?

MENINO (via telephone): The MBTA is closed at 3:30 this afternoon. It's held up and, you know, like city government, they're going to go home at noon time because we wanted them to get home with the MBTA working.

The hospitals rearranged their schedules, also. Many of the insurance companies and banks, also, rearranged their schedules so that people could get home early and get on MBTA if they had to use mass transit.

That's why we asked them. We're encouraged them to do it this morning. A lot of them have.

BALDWIN: Mayor Menino, best of luck to you in riding out the storm with everyone else in New England area. Thank you so much, sir.

As we mentioned, Massachusetts saying you can't be on the roads past 4:00 today.

We have now gotten word from the governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, saying same situation, travel ban after 4:00 p.m. today, which is in about 10 minutes from now.

Coming up, we're going to take you to Staten Island. These folks already so hard hit by Superstorm Sandy. Now, here we go again.

Back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: All right. We're back inside the weather cube, the nerve center of our weather coverage in the next, what, sort of hours as we cover this blizzard that is encroaching upon New England.

Chad Myers, hop back in with me. We want to go to Mary Snow who was talking to people in New England pummeled by Superstorm Sandy in October and here we go again.

Where is Staten Island on the map? MYERS: Right here. Right here, this little island right there. And they really got pummeled with almost like a Category-2 storm surge. I know this was a Category-1 hurricane, but it was a much bigger wave that came in here for Staten Island.

And we talked about there could be some surge with this one, but not truly for Staten Island. Not really for New York harbor. That would be for Massachusetts harbor, for Boston harbor and for in Gloucester.

BALDWIN: OK. Let's go to Mary Snow in Staten Island for us right now. Mary, how prepared are these people?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Brooke, as one man put it, he said, yeah, I am just numb.

People are in disbelief that yet another major storm is at their doorstep and just take a look behind me. We're here in the New Dorp section of Staten Island.

This was so badly damaged, not many people are living here, full time, but they do come every day, work on their homes and, to give you a sense of how people are living, you many, many people are going to the tents we're going to show you in a minute here where volunteers provide meals every day.

It's run by a woman named Donna Graziano and she is saying, you know, people are just so worried about how much of a setback this storm will be.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONNA GRAZIANO, STATEN ISLAND RESIDENT: From what I'm seeing, they are still shocked. Like, oh, my God, now, another storm is possible, a water surge, you know, the snow. Their houses are completely just down to the shell pretty much now. We know the wood is going to start getting wet all over again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: High winds also a concern. The tents are going to be shutting down in a couple of hours.

And, as you just heard Chad saying that the forecast now are for a moderate surge here at Staten Island. It's certainly people are hoping that that forecast won't change and get any worse.

Brooke?

BALDWIN: Mary Snow, we're right there with you, hoping that. Mary, thank you.

And, again, just to reiterate your point, hopefully, Staten Island won't get too much?

MYERS: Right. They are getting rain right now, and that's a great thing unless you don't have a roof, right? And you can see what those people are going through, what those home still look like, the blue tarps, the places without windows. So you don't need anything. Just any bit of rain or wind can really damage what they've already tried to put back together, so that's what they are worried about.

Now, this is a miss for Staten Island. There's no question. They're not going to get 10, 12 inches of snow. There's going to be rain and then maybe a couple of inches of snow at the wind.

But the winds blow 20-, 30-, 40-miles-an-hour, that tent's going to start going like this. The blue tarps are going to start blowing around. They don't need it.

BALDWIN: No, they don't at all.

Chad Myers, thank you very much.

We'll have much more on this breaking blizzard coverage here in New England.

Also, breaking news on Jesse Jackson, Jr., next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: A couple other stories of the day. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is saying good-bye.

President Obama will speak at an armed forces farewell tribute for Panetta at the Pentagon next hour.

Panetta told a Senate panel yesterday he did not receive any threats on Benghazi before the deadly attack. He said there were no undue delays before the attack happened, and the removal of all government personnel within 12 hours helped saves lives.

Former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., has cut a deal with federal prosecutors. This is according to a source close to the Jackson family.

Jackson was under investigation for allegedly misusing campaign funds. He took a long medical leave from office last year for mental health reasons. His attorneys have not returned CNN's phone calls.

Private e-mails and photographs belonging to two American presidents, hacked and published online for all the world to see. The Secret Service right now is investigating the hacking and publication of this correspondence.

The accounts held private e-mails of the Bush family, including former presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.

An asteroid is set to fly remarkably close to Earth in 7 days. But NASA says there's no chance it might be on a collision course.

The asteroid is just about half the size of a football field. It will be closest to Earth on February 15th and even then, let me define close for you, 17,000 miles away.

You can't see the asteroid with the naked eye, but a small telescope or binoculars might actually do the trick.

And the Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban, by those gunmen, for promoting school for girls has been released from the hospital. Fifteen-year-old Malala Yousufzai was wounded in her neck and head back in October.

She was moved to a British hospital where she underwent multiple operations to repair her skull and restore her hearing. She will continue rehab at her family's new home in Birmingham, England.

And that is it for me for now. We hope you come back, of course, at midnight where I will be here with our team covering the storm as really the worst of the blizzard hits between the 10:00, 11:00, 12:00 and overnight hours.

So, I will be up with you from midnight until 5:00 a.m. I hope you join me.

In the meantime, stay right here because "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer starts now.

Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Brooke, thanks very much.