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THE SITUATION ROOM

Blizzard Hits Northeast; California Manhunt; Why Super Bowl Lights Went Out; Cop Killings Manhunt Spans 200 Miles; Jesse Jackson Jr. Signs Plea Deal; 25-30 Inches Of Snow Expected in Boston; New York Governor Declares Emergency; Friend of Alleged Cop Killer Speaks Out; Super Bowl Blackout Solved; Interview with Rhode Island Governor

Aired February 8, 2013 - 16:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: The storm's picking up and forecasters say Boston's going to get clobbered. We're going to talk with one of the country's top blizzard experts.

Out in California, authorities say there's no panic as the manhunt continues for a suspected cop killer. You're going to hear from a man who knew him and even called him a friend at one point.

And mystery solved. You're going to find out why the lights went out during the Super Bowl.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The latest forecasts are in and this could be one of the worst storms on record with 40 million, 40 million people in its path across the Northeast. Snow is falling, shelves are cleared, airports shut down. In Boston it's already snowing heavily and the worst of the storm will hit in about an hour. When it's done, up to 30 inches, 30 inches of snow may pile up.

We have CNN crews and reporters out in force covering every angle of this breaking story.

Forecasters say Boston is likely to be plastered with once again maybe as much as 30, but at least 24 inches of snow. Let's start there.

CNN's national correspondent, Susan Candiotti, is watching the situation.

Looks like it's coming down pretty seriously, Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it sure is.

But you know what, Wolf? The worst is yet to come. Right now, yes, we are feeling the beginning of the storm. But the worst of it should be hitting overnight, when we will have near-whiteout conditions. Now, remember, this is an area where they are getting blizzard warnings that will remain in effect until Saturday afternoon.

Right now, it feels like pellets, cold pellets hitting your face, similar to a hurricane, although obviously much colder than that. Businesses have been closed, schools have been closed all day, transit systems shut down. And these are New Englanders, includes Bostonians, who are used to these blizzard-like conditions.

They remember the great blizzard of 1978, another bad storm in 2005. So, if you look at the store shelves, they are empty. People are supposed to stay home, and they are not messing around. In fact, the governor of the state says, as of this hour, if you are caught driving on any road in the state of Massachusetts, and you have no business being out there, you could be thrown in jail for up to a year, and certainly face serious fines, said, we're not trying to be funny about this and fill up the jails. We're trying to prove to you that we mean business.

Now, for a look at what's happening in Providence, Rhode Island, let's go to my colleague Poppy Harlow.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Susan.

Well, I have got to tell you, no messing around here either, the governor here in Rhode Island calling this a state of emergency. But I just want to take our viewers and show them, guys, this is rush hour. This is rush hour in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. Rare that you see a car going by. Almost every business, City Hall, everything is closed here.

Just like in Massachusetts, the governor in Connecticut also having that 4:00 ban on any cars and I wouldn't be surprised if it happens here very soon as well. I want to take you on our journey getting here, because we just arrived here. It took us over five hours to get here from New York City, a trip that really shouldn't take any more than three hours, along the way, very slow going, light traffic, lots of snow plows, but also some very serious accidents.

We saw a jackknifed tractor-trailer that ran right into the median. We saw a huge semi that just literally fell off the side of the highway. We took a picture of that for you guys. And that was consistent all the way up here. If you head up to Maine, I want to show you some pretty dramatic video in Maine, a 19-car pileup earlier today in Maine.

Bottom line, here and across New England, the governor here saying not a time for sightseeing, not a time for joking around. This is very, very serious. And if you think of what happened in 1978, 27 inches of snow here, 26 deaths. They think this storm could be as bad or worse and we're not even there yet.

Let's go to Alison Kosik. She's live in New York -- Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Poppy.

The snow is coming down at a pretty good clip. It's really icy though and certainly hitting my face pretty hard because the wind is picking up in spots. New York City is actually going into overdrive preparing for what is on the way. Now, the brunt of the storm is expected to get here around 7:00. That's when you're going to see most of the accumulation. That's when the winds will more steadily pick up. At least that's what is expected. And New York City is getting ready for it. Hundreds of snowplows are at the ready; 250,000 tons of salt are ready to be spread across the 6,000 miles of roadways not only here in the city but in the four surrounding boroughs. What the city -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York's mayor, is hoping to avoid is a replay of the blizzard of 2010, when this city got 20 inches and it was ill-prepared for that.

So, the idea is, this time around, it's going to be different.

One thing that has happened today, a lot of employers have let their employees go a little earlier because the brunt of the storm is expected to hit right around rush hour at 7:00. So a lot of employees are on their way home because the worry is, if the storm gets bad enough, there is a chance that mass transit trains could shut down and eight-and-a-half million people come and go on those trains every day. And the goal is to get those people home as early as possible -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Great goal. And let's hope that they can achieve it. Guys, thanks very much.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

BLITZER: A blizzard expert is joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM right now from the National Weather Service right now. He's the assistant administrator, Louis Uccellini, but he's about to become the director of the National Weather Service.

Louis, thanks for coming in.

LOUIS UCCELLINI, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: Thank you for having me.

BLITZER: Give us some comparison. You have studied blizzards, '78 in Boston, '77 in Buffalo. How bad is this one?

UCCELLINI: This storm has the potential to be a very dangerous storm and given the amount of snowfall that we expect to fall over its history, especially up in New England, it will certainly rank in the top 10, perhaps even the top five storms for that area.

BLITZER: Ever?

UCCELLINI: Ever.

BLITZER: And since they started keeping these records?

UCCELLINI: Since the late 1880s.

BLITZER: So where you -- when you say New England, that's a big area. Where do you think it's going to be the worst?

(CROSSTALK)

UCCELLINI: Yes. The heaviest snow will be from eastern Connecticut, through Rhode Island, up toward Boston into Southwestern Maine. Clearly, as the storm, which is now rapidly developing off the East Coast, wraps up southeast of New England, it will pull the snow back in and really it will funnel the heaviest snowfall into that area.

And whether we get thundersnow or not, we expect these bands to form and within those bands we will be seeing two to three inches per hour.

BLITZER: Three inches an hour. And then we're talking about wind, wind gusts which will be pretty significant?

UCCELLINI: Yes. This is what makes the storm particularly dangerous. As the low develops and as it intensifies, we're going to have very strong winds. We're predicting wind gusts along the coast to be approaching hurricane-force winds. So obviously you mix those strong winds with the heavy snow and you're going to get whiteout conditions in a large area, we believe, in the same area where they are going to get the heavy snow.

BLITZER: I want Chad Myers to join in this conversation.

Chad, I know you have a question for Louis Uccellini.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, sir.

It was proven again by this storm four-and-a-half days ago that the European model had it right on the money. And our American models were going left and right. What will you do as the director to make our foreclosures as good as what they are putting out?

UCCELLINI: OK. Well, two points.

One, you're right. The European Center model was the first model to lock into the track of this storm and keep it closer to the coast. I should emphasize that the forecasters who are making the forecast for these storms five, six, seven days in advance are using what we call an ensemble mix of all of these models.

And they don't just rely on one model. But it's clear that that model had the headway on this one. We already have plans on transferring our models to a brand-new supercomputer, the IBM iDataPlex. That will allow us to start running our models at higher resolution and our data assimilation systems at higher resolution.

And we know that this is a main issue with our models compared to the European Center. But even with this new computer, we will not be up to the resolution that they run their models.

BLITZER: Have you seen some major changes in the past few hours as far as the movement of this storm or storms, as we probably should call it?

UCCELLINI: Actually, the storm is following a track and the development that we predicted a number of days ago, as Chad pointed to.

And it's developing according to script. It's going through a very intense phase, developing phase now. We expect it to be turning slightly to the right to put it in a position just off the southeast New England coast, which is a very dangerous spot for New England, very heavy snowfall and very strong winds.

The other thing I would like to note is that the waves immediately along the coast...

BLITZER: The surge?

UCCELLINI: No, the waves themselves could be approaching 15 to 20 feet along the coast and just off the coast we're predicting wave heights greater than 30 feet.

So nobody wants to be out in that water with this storm.

BLITZER: I hope so.

Chad, you have another question?

MYERS: I have more of a statement. I just want to say how thankful the meteorologist community in America is that you are now our new director, such a distinguished career at NCEP. We are happy to have you and congratulations, a well-deserved promotion.

UCCELLINI: Well, thank you very much, Chad.

BLITZER: And you're going to stay with us, because we have more questions and especially some practical questions about the dangers out there. A lot of people forget, in '78, in that Boston blizzard, how many people died?

UCCELLINI: Over 100.

BLITZER: Yes. So there's a lot of risk out there. This is very dangerous and Mr. Uccellini is going to stay with us and give us some advice. Chad is going to stay with us as well.

Don't forget, you can track every minute of this storm on CNN.com/weather. Go there. See what's going on. We're keeping our eyes on this monster storm.

We're also following the ongoing manhunt in California right now. We have new information coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM from the LAPD, as well as a close friend from the accused cop killer to tell us about who Christopher Dorner really is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Now to southern California where the hunt for a cop killer has grown to a 200-mile area. Police are doubling up. They are watching each other's back as they search for the fired L.A. police officer, Christopher Dorner. He's linked to three killings since Sunday.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is following the manhunt for us. He's joining us now live.

What's the latest, Miguel? MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORREPONDENT: Well, the latest is that they are still searching across a very wide swath of southern California. The entire state, it seems, is on lockdown. At least the southern part of the state is on lockdown.

And police here -- this is the Hollywood station. They have blocked off the street here. Police are watching for this man. They have no idea where he'll strike next.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ (voice-over): In the mountains east of L.A., a feverish search in Big Bear, despite near whiteout conditions.

SHERIFF JOHN MCMAHON, SAN BERNARDINO CO., CALIFORNIA: We're going to continue to several primarily up in the mountain area, to make sure. There's a lot of cabins up there that are abandoned. We want to make sure that he didn't find a place to hide out for the night.

MARQUEZ: Today, parts of southern California on lockdown. Some 17 million people terrorized by an ex-cop on a murderous rampage.

UNIDENTIIFED MALE: It's kind of scary. You don't know where he is and you have friends -- we have friends that live all over the mountain. And, you know, I was concerned about them and officers, too.

MARQUEZ: Police stations across the city under guard. The homes of LAPD homes and their families are also under guard after being called out in Dorner's angry 11-page diatribe.

Thousands of police across the state called on to duty, tension to high, twitchy police officers shoot up a pickup truck resembling Dorner's. It wasn't. Inside, a 71-year-old woman and her daughter delivering newspapers. The 71-year-old in intensive care, the daughter, OK.

The rampage started Sunday in Irvine. Monica Quan, the daughter of a police official and her fiance, shot and killed. On Wednesday, near San Diego, Dorner tried to steal a boat. On Thursday, 1:25 a.m. in Corona, Dorner allegedly fires on to two police officers. One is slightly injured.

Twenty minutes later in Riverside, two officers ambushed at a stoplight. Again, Dorner suspected. One officer dies, the other hospitalized.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ: Now, it's not clear where Dorner is at this point. Police up in the hills east of here saying that they are going to keep searching the area until they can rule out whether or not he's there. Talking to law enforcement folks today, they feel that that -- he may have fled and may be elsewhere.

But there has been false alarm after false alarm across southern California today on Dorner's sightings, the most recent one at the downtown sheriff's office detention center. That turnout to be nothing. Wolf, this is a place where people are on tender hooks throughout today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I would assume not just there but people in southern California, from LA., all the way down to San Diego, people are very nervous about what's going on.

MARQUEZ: Yes. The fact that he tried to steal that boat down in San Diego suggests he may have been trying to get to Mexico so that is one of the possibilities that people are working on. But in Nevada, in Arizona, authorities there are also on the lookout. There's this -- there's this very, very high tension across a huge swath of the country out here today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Miguel, thanks very much.

In just a few minutes, by the way, a close friend of Christopher Dorner's will join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He has a message for the suspect. You're going to hear it. That's coming up.

And, of course, we're continuing to watch the Northeast blizzard. A close look at how it's impacting people thousands of miles away.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Take a look at this. These are live pictures coming in from Boston. Boston, Massachusetts. It's only just beginning. They are expecting at least 24 inches of snow, maybe even more. State of emergency has already been declared in three states, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. We're watching all of this very, very closely.

We'll go back to the snow, the blizzard in just a moment. There's other news we're watching as well.

He's charged with misusing campaign money and now there is word of a deal for the former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.

Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

So, what's going on with this front?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a source close to Jesse Jackson Jr.'s family tells CNN he has signed a plea deal. The former Illinois congressman was being investigated by the feds for alleged misuse of campaign funds. "The Chicago Sun-Times" is reporting that the deal may include, quote, "significant prison time." Lawyers representing Jackson have not returned phone calls from CNN.

And the Pakistani teen activist shot in the head by the Taliban is out of a British hospital after undergoing reconstructive surgery. This is video of her last weekend after doctors performed two operations to repair her skull and hearing. The 15-year-old will continue her rehabilitation at the family's temporary home in England. Taliban gunman shot her in the head in October for speaking out in favor of girl's education.

And in other news, Boeing is warning customers, their deliveries of 787 Dreamliners may be delayed as an investigation continues into problems with the jet's batteries. European carriers Thomson Airways and Norwegian Air say they were told not to expect their delivery on time. The Dreamliner fleet has been grounded for three weeks following problems with battery fires.

And take a look at this. A high-speed chase ends in a fiery crash in California. The car spun out of control, hit a guardrail and burst into flames in the Boyle Heights section of L.A. Officers there were chasing a suspected drunk driver who they say was speeding at more than 100 miles an hour. They were able to get him out of the burning car and to the hospital. No word, though, on his condition, Wolf -- 100 miles per hour.

BLITZER: He's lucky to be alive.

SYLVESTER: Lucky to be alive and lucky that he didn't kill anyone.

BLITZER: Yes, thank you. Lisa, thanks.

A warning from the governor of Massachusetts: stay of the road or else. Boston expected to feel the brunt of this blizzard. We're heading there, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: This just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM: New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo has just declared a state of emergency in New York state as this historic snowstorm continues -- continues to hammer the Northeast. Twenty-five to 30 inches of snow are possible tonight from Hartford, Connecticut, to Boston. New York City is expecting five to 10 inches. Basically, the farther east you live, the more snow you'll get.

The incoming head of the National Weather Service tells us there could be whiteout conditions over a large area. The Boston line, this is a very dangerous storm and the worst of it will hit tonight. We're watching all of this unfold.

The governor of Massachusetts earlier ordered everyone, except emergency vehicles, off the road. The ban just went into effect right at the top of the hour. Boston could get, once again, more than two feet, more than 24 inches of snow.

CNN producer Julian Cummings is joining us on the phone right now. He's in Boston.

What are you seeing, Julian?

JULIAN CUMMINGS, CNN PRODUCER (via telephone): Hi, Wolf. The roads are getting less and less packed of people in cars. Before, it was a steady stream, looking up for snow, looking around. But roads are getting very, very slick and it's slowly turning into that ghost town feel.

In our shot right now, you see plows coming up, a steady flow of plows, which is good when keeping road busy. Not (INAUDIBLE) rather. But we're definitely seeing less and less people out in Boston.

BLITZER: So there's nobody except for emergency vehicles are allowed to be on the road. You're on the road right now. I assume they've given you special permission for the news media?

CUMMINGS: Yes, news media is exempt from that. We're going as slow as possible and staying out of the way of vehicles as well.

BLITZER: And these are live pictures that you're showing us. Is that Fenway Park over there? What am I seeing?

CUMMINGS: That is Fenway Park on your right. They are making sure that it is plowed. Lots of Boston sports fan -- even though it's the off season, want to make sure fans can get to Fenway.

BLITZER: So what are the folks in Boston saying? They lived through a blizzard back in 1978, more than 100 people died as a result of that. Are they taking this seriously? What's the mood there?

CUMMINGS: People that we have spoken to, you know, they are saying it's February and it's snowing. You know, they treat today as a normal day, but they are also aware that the city is going to close down early and I think people are respecting that, for the most part.

BLITZER: Are they worried about outages, how we are outages as a result, not only of the snow, but of the wind which is going to be intense as Chad Myers was telling us?

CUMMINGS: Yes. The people that we spoke to, they are getting supplies ready. I think everyone has Hurricane Sandy in their memory, what happened there. But people definitely were looking at it as a snowstorm and looking forward as well to what happens when it stops snowing and the wind really has not picked up yet, from what I can feel. We're driving and we're slipping a little bit, but we're not being blown around as of yet.

BLITZER: We're going to check back in with you, Julian. Julian is showing live pictures from his vehicle that we're seeing in Boston. Just be careful driving there. It's going to get icy, slippery very, very, very soon.

Let's go to Poppy Harlow. She is in Rhode Island for us. Poppy, you got the governor, Lincoln Chafee with you. I know he has already declared a state of emergency in Rhode Island.

POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM CORRESPONDENT: He absolutely has a state of emergency here. The governor is joining us. Thank you for being here. We know it's a very busy day. You have some news about I-95, the road that we just took to get up here. So apparently, we got here just in time, right? GOVERNOR LINCOLN CHAFEE, RHODE ISLAND: Yes. Those roads are fairly empty right now, but we have imposed a travel restriction on our limited access highway on 95 that you mentioned, 195 and 295. We also added 146 and 24. So those roads have travel advisories on them.

HARLOW: So you are basically shutting them down along to Massachusetts and Connecticut doing the same thing. I saw firsthand how tough the driving was. We saw jack knifed tractor-trailers and semis falling off the side of the road.

It's no joke here. What can you tell us about how prepared Rhode Island is right now? How many plows do you have out there on the roads?

CHAFEE: We couldn't be more prepared because we had so much advanced warning and that's good. Our big fear is power outages. You can see this wet snow. It's about 33 degrees and with that heavy, wet snow, if the wind kicks up and brings down trees and power lines, that's our fear. We're going to clear the streets, but if people get out of power with low temperature, that's what we fear.

HARLOW: That begs the question, we experienced it first hand, after Sandy in New York City, in terms of power being out for weeks on end and that wasn't even the winter. So how prepared is National Grid right now, your main power provider?

CHAFEE: They are well prepared. I saw a big crew this morning at the hotel that I was visiting. A big crew, they were here from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the men I talked to. And we're ready but you have to clear the roads and then wait for the wind to subside and then get the electricity back on.

So with the low temperatures, be as you mentioned, that are forecast, that's our big fear. Let's hope we don't have those high winds and this heavy snow and bring down power lines.

HARLOW: There have been some early predictions of wind gusts that could hit 60 miles per hour. We're very close to the water. We'll see what happens. Shelters, any availability there if people do lose power?

CHAFEE: It seems we've been through a number of drills here. We've had Hurricane Sandy. We had Hurricane Irene. Before that, we had a number of snowstorms. So we're working with our Red Cross. We're well prepared with our shelters, but it doesn't minimize the challenge we'll have if we have power outages and low temperatures.

HARLOW: Wolf, if you want to jump in here, any questions for the governor?

BLITZER: Yes. Governor, first of all, do you need any federal assistance or do you envision needing any federal assistance and part two of the question, National Guard. I know in Massachusetts, a few thousand National Guards troops have already been activated to help out this weekend. What's going on with those two fronts? CHAFEE: Our federal delegation, our two congressmen and two senators, we've been on a conference call with them. We've pledged to work with the federal government if we need it. Our national guardsmen are ready if we need it similar to Connecticut. We're all mobilized up. There's been a lot of hype here, which is good. So we couldn't be better prepared.

BLITZER: Are the people --

HARLOW: Governor, appreciate --

BLITZER: I was going to say, Governor, are the people in Connecticut appreciative of how potentially dangerous this blizzard could be, given the fact that in '78 you lived through that period, so did I, more than 100 people died.

CHAFEE: Yes, that was different because it came so fast. We had so much warning on this one I think it's different. There's a lot of preparation here. I think the roads just came up at 95 to do this interview. They were practically empty. I think people are using commonsense, making good decisions. Let's hope that continues.

HARLOW: Governor, thank you. Appreciate it. Wolf, mass transit has been closed here for hours. Downtown is literally empty, barely any cars on the road. I think that's what we're going to see throughout the night as the storm picks up. We'll be here for you live throughout it all. Governor, thank you. Wolf, I'll throw it back to you.

BLITZER: Poppy, just ask him quickly if all traffic has been barred except for emergency vehicles as is the case right now in Boston and Massachusetts?

HARLOW: Right. This is what we're seeing in Boston and Connecticut, that as of 4:00 p.m. all of the traffic was banned and literally you could go to jail and face a pretty severe fine if you are on the road. I see a few cars here. That's not the case here?

CHAFEE: Yes. Ours is going to take place at 5:00. That's coming up soon. We have a lot of exceptions. Media, official duties, health care workers reporting for work at hospitals and the like. We have a number of broad exceptions. So I advise people to look at that online and see what we have.

HARLOW: Is there a penalty of jail time if people are on the road?

CHAFEE: Well, I think we'll use our common sense.

HARLOW: Right.

CHAFEE: We'll be sensitive to the emergency in place here. If somebody is going to be a repeat infractions offender, yes, they could get heavy fines.

HARLOW: All right, stay off the roads, bottom line. Governor, thank you -- Wolf. BLITZER: Good time to stay home. Governor, thanks very much. Poppy will be getting back to you.

Airport and state officials all take their cue from the National Weather Service. Coming up, I'll be speaking with the incoming director of the National Weather Service, Louis Uccellini. We're going to find out what goes into coordinating a massive response for such a massive storm.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Looking at a live picture from New York City's Columbus Circle right outside Time-Warner's Headquarters in New York City. Not much traffic. As you can see, people are hopefully inside because it's only going to get worst in the next few hours in New York, Boston, Rhode Island, Connecticut, elsewhere in the northeast.

The National Weather Service is bringing in top experts in winter storms. Louis Uccellini is about to become the new director of the National Weather Service. Once again he is here. He gets sworn in Sunday morning. What time?

LOUIS W. UCCELLINI, INCOMING DIRECTOR, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: Early in the morning.

BLITZER: You'll be busy all weekend talking about this. They just declared a state of emergency, the governor, Andrew Cuomo, in New York. What exactly does that mean as far as the National Weather Service is concerned?

UCCELLINI: Well, we provide the forecast to the emergency management community from the federal, through the state, to the local levels through our various forecast offices. And we provide them the weather information. They make the decisions, all of the decisions on the steps that need to be taken before, during, and after the storm.

BLITZER: We just heard from Lincoln Chafee, the governor of Rhode Island saying this blizzard is different than the one in '78. Because in '78 they said they didn't get much warning and this one they had days to prepare. Do you agree with that assessment?

UCCELLINI: Well, in '78 we made a good forecast, but beforehand we made a few forecast busts so people didn't heed the forecast very well. And the snow came in late, came in later than what was expected. So people went to work and it started snowing and people got trapped.

In this case, we've had a very consistent forecast, five days, four days, three days, two days, one day in advance. So with that confidence level building up and a very consistent message that is provided from all of our forecasting offices working with the Emergency Management community, they've reacted accordingly.

BLITZER: And you say that this upcoming blizzard, the one that is beginning right now, will compare to the one in '78. As you point out, more than 100 people were killed. UCCELLINI: Well, in terms of the amount of snowfall in New England, the very strong winds, we're predicting that the wind gusts along the coast could approach hurricane-force winds. We'll have a very similar situation that we had in '78.

Two to three feet of snow is possible from Connecticut up through Eastern Massachusetts into Southwest Maine. So it's going to be a very dangerous storm. In that regard, the fact that people are heeding the advice of their governors, mayors, local officials and are staying indoors and are getting cars off the street before the main storm hits, it's exactly what you need to not only prepare for the storm but to then trust and recover afterwards.

BLITZER: Of the 100 people who died in '78, what was the cause of those deaths?

UCCELLINI: Those number of people -- who have people trapped in their cars, exposure, deaths related to moving snow. People were putting themselves at risk by going out immediately before that storm.

BLITZER: So the most important advice you have for viewers watching in the northeast right now is --

UCCELLINI: Heed the advice of the public officials. They don't do this all the time and when they do this, they mean it. They are doing it to save your life. So it's best to stay off the roads and it also allows them to recover a lot faster after the storm and get you back into your normal life.

BLITZER: So when a governor or a mayor says, you can't drive, if you're seen on the road, if you're not an emergency vehicle, you're going to jail, that's pretty good advice?

UCCELLINI: Well, they have their ways of enforcing their --

BLITZER: It's for the good of their own people.

UCCELLINI: That's right. They really want people off the streets because the main brunt of the storm is just coming in now and we're going to see very rapid increase in snowfall rates from Long Island all the way up into southeast New England and the winds are going to pick up.

It's going to be very dangerous and very dangerous along the coast. We have the strong waves, potential surge of two to four feet in some areas so there could be some coastal flooding. People really need to pay attention.

BLITZER: Good advice, Louis Uccellini, good luck with your new job starting Sunday morning.

UCCELLINI: Thank you.

BLITZER: We'll stay in close tough.

There's a coordinator effort in California to catch a suspected cop killer right now. Coming up, a close friend of the suspect who was mentioned in a rambling manifesto is speaking out. Much more on this story coming up and also, the latest on the blizzard, stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're going back to the massive manhunt for a suspected killer in California. The fired L.A. police, Christopher Dorner, suspected of killing three people and threatening a war on police and their relatives.

The threat is in a manifesto Dorner was left behind explaining the reasons for his rage. One of the people mentioned in that lengthy document is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with a message for his one-time friend.

And James Usera is joining us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM. James, thanks very much for coming in. I know this is difficult for you. This is extremely difficult for a lot of people.

You were classmates of his at Southern Utah University and in this so- called manifesto that he writes, we haven't independently confirmed it, but among other things he says this about you.

He says, I will miss our political discussions that always turned argumentative. Thanks for introducing me to outdoor sports like fishing, hunting, mudding, and even respect for the land and resources. I love you, bro. How does that make you feel that in this so-called manifesto he writes about you?

JAMES USERA, FORMER CLASSMATE OF DORNER: Well, I tell you when I first learned about this, I didn't have any context in which to put this excerpt from the manifesto so I confess that my initial reaction was to be somewhat flattered that apparently I've had a positive impact on this individual.

And Mr. Dorner, quite frankly, is a person for whom I've always had great respect and some degree of admiration and it sounds like that was a mutual feeling between us so, again, on some levels a little bit of a flattery to begin with.

After I learned more about the situation and learned more about what is contained within this so-called manifesto, it's concerning, to say the least, that I've sort of been subsumed into this whirlwind of horrific acts.

But I guess my reaction to it is, once I put it in context and learned more about it I was just shocked that a person who I considered a friend and have respect for is apparently having some serious problems and has been engaged in this conduct in the last few days.

BLITZER: What was he like in college?

USERA: You know, my experience with Mr. Dorner was overwhelmingly positive. I found him to be, you know, intelligent, articulate, well- reasoned, rational, you know, really friendly, approachable, the kind of guy that most people would enjoy spending time with, which is obviously what drew me to him as a friend.

I feel like we had a good relationship. As you noted, he talked about us having political discussions when he writes that in the manifesto. As a practical matter, I don't know that we had any in-depth political discussions.

But we certainly were able to speak about current events and such things. So, you know, again, articulate fellow who, again, I had a great deal of respect for.

BLITZER: So when you heard that this was an individual who allegedly killed a police officer, two other people, what was your immediate reaction when you heard that?

USERA: I was absolutely shocked and somewhat befuddled, I guess would be the best way to put it. I couldn't believe what I was reading, couldn't believe what I was hearing. I learned about this first yesterday morning and then throughout the course of yesterday was speaking with various news personnel and doing interviews and such things.

Until yesterday evening I finally got a chance to sit down, watch some news, and get sort of a bigger picture of what was going on. And I'll tell you, at that point, my reaction was shock that, you know, again this person who I respected and considered to be a good friend was engaged in this conduct.

But I was also experienced a feeling of some helplessness. You know, I think we all have an innate desire to help a friend if we have a friend in need and the inability to do that in this situation.

You know, one of the reasons that I feel compelled to go on TV and to give interviews is because, first and foremost, Mr. Dorner was a friend of mine. To the extent that I can offer any kind of assistance in bringing this situation to a close, I want to be able to do that.

BLITZER: When was the last time you spoke with him?

USERA: Last time he and I spoke was about 2008. We actually at that point hadn't spoken in years. We both graduated from college in 2001. We didn't talk for a few years, in fact, because, quite frankly, our lives took different paths.

He called me out of the blue one day in 2008 and we caught up for 10 or 15 minutes over the phone and that was the last I spoke with him. You know, it was not a relationship where we had frequent communication but nevertheless, you know, one of those people that I always would have considered a friend regardless of how frequently we spoke.

BLITZER: If he's watching right now, what would you say to him?

USERA: You know, my message to Mr. Dorner is simply turn yourself in, let's bring this situation to a close. Again, if there is anything I can do to assist in resolving this, please do whatever you can do to let me know what that is because I'm really interested in helping bring this to a resolution.

You know, no good is coming out of hurting people, no good is coming out of violence and out of a manhunt. So best case scenario for everybody is to get this situation unfouled as soon as expeditiously as possible.

BLITZER: James Usera, thanks so much for joining us.

USERA: My pleasure. Thank you.

BLITZER: We're going to have much more on this story coming up in our next hour, including some exclusive video of Christopher Dorner training with the LAPD.

Up next, though, the answer we've all been waiting for, why the lights went out at the Super Bowl. We now know.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Now to New Orleans where it's taken nearly a week to solve the biggest mystery in sports. At last we now know what has caused the blackout at the Super Bowl. Here's CNN's John Zarrella.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, city officials here have said that this was the most talked about 34 minutes in the history of electricity. Well, they may finally have an answer as to what knocked out the lights at the Superdome.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA (voice-over): The mystery is solved, it wasn't Beyonce or, heaven forbid, angry San Fran fans that turned out the lights. The Super Bowl who done it or in this case, what did it is a mystery no longer.

CHARLES RICE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, ENTERGY NEW ORLEANS INC.: Through our own investigation, we have traced the cause of Sunday's outage to an electrical relay device.

ZARRELLA: The utility company, Entergy's CEO, Charles Rice announced the findings to the New Orleans City Council's utility committee during an emergency hearing.

(on camera): The relay device is designed to protect equipment in case power feeder cables fail. Entergy's Rice says the relay is new. They first started using it in December and it worked fine during three other sporting events, including the Super Bowl.

(voice-over): But Rice said those events did not draw as much power.

RICE: But for the Super Bowl, you know, I would be remiss if I didn't say there was not an increase in the amount of service that was requested.

ZARRELLA: Rice says they still don't know why it tripped. In a statement, the Chicago company that makes the part said the outage was a result of the electric load current exceeding the setting in which the relay would trip.

Quote, "based on our onsite testing, we have determined that if higher settings had been applied, the equipment would not have disconnected the power," end quote. The statement also seems to blame Entergy saying that the setting is, quote, "set by the system operators."

SMB, the company that runs the Superdome says whatever the reason the relay tripped, it wasn't because the stadium was pulling too much power.

DOUG THORNTON, SMG SENIOR V.P. STADIUMS AND ARENAS: We were well within the capacity, well within the capacity. Our readings show that we were running at about two-thirds capacity.

ZARRELLA (on camera): Entergy and SMG were planning to bring in an independent company to help find the problem. Now they say that might not be necessary.

(voice-over): Whatever they find, city council officials want it passed on to New Jersey, next year's Super Bowl site.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They won't have to experience what we experienced.

ZARRELLA: They've already got enough to worry about playing the game in an outdoor stadium.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA: Utility company officials say it wasn't until yesterday that they actually zeroed in on the relay as the source of the problem and it wasn't until last night that they were confident they had the answer -- Wolf.