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Storm Rolling Through Midwest; John Kerry in Qatar; Cardinal Watch; Another Sinkhole in Florida; Inside A Sinkhole

Aired March 5, 2013 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Here it comes. The snowstorm that's threatening to sock Chicago now barreling across the Upper Midwest, bringing threats of massive travel delays across the entire country.

ZORAIDA SAMBOLIN, CNN ANCHOR: And it's happened again. A sinkhole opens up not far from the one that swallowed up that Florida man alive.

BERMAN: Waiting for word out of Rome. Catholic cardinals could reveal within the hour details of the conclave to pick the next pope.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. It is Tuesday, March 5th. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

And it's pretty late in the season, but right now, a winter storm is rolling through the Midwest. It's managed to already dump inches of ice and snow on major metropolitan areas, from the Dakotas to Indiana. Minneapolis got 3.9 inches. That happened overnight. Milwaukee can expect between two and five inches. Indianapolis can get three to five inches today.

And right now, Chicago is bracing for up to six to eight inches, which is expected by tonight.

Jennifer Delgado is live in the Windy City.

And, Jennifer, are they ready for what meteorologists predict is the biggest snowfall of the season in March?

JENNIFER DELGADO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. You know, one of these big storms have been noun to happen in March. For Chicago's top 10, three of those happened in March. One of those was March 25th and 26th. And in March, we can still see snow.

Now, you asked if officials are preparing for this. You can look down on the sidewalk. In the last hour or so, they've put down more of the salt to help with some of the commuters and people who are walking. That's a good idea, because of course, later into mid-morning, late morning, we're expecting the snow to pick up.

I've been checking the radar. It still looks like it's around 9:00 initially. We might see mixed precipitation and, of course, changing all over to snow. As Zoraida said, six to eight inches, possibly even 10 inches of snowfall.

But, right now, as I can show you on the Magnificent Mile, it looks nice and quiet. The roadways are clear, but crews are going to have a tough time as we're going to see the winds picking up later into the afternoon and evening. And that's going to be leading to that blowing snow and with the snowfall rate between one and two inches. Of course, that's going to be hard for crews at times to go out and clean up the road.

Now, we do have a winter storm warning in place that starts at 9:00 a.m. and it will go until midnight tonight. So, again, crews are ready, residents are ready. They're out and about. But certainly, as we get into some of that rush hour travel, that's when we're going to lead to some more of those problems.

And then, of course, air travel.

SAMBOLIN: That's the problem there, yes.

DELGADO: Hundreds of flights have been canceled out of O'Hare as well as Midway.

They need this snow here because they are still in a drought in Chicago. So the snow will be welcome.

SAMBOLIN: Well, what kind of welcome?

All right, Jennifer. Thank you very much.

DELGADO: Yes, exactly.

BERMAN: So, as early as tonight, Washington, D.C. and surrounding areas could also see five to nine inches of snow and could affect many of the country's airports.

We're going to get straight to Karen Maginnis in the severe weather center in Atlanta right now.

Karen, what can we expect from this?

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Now, this is interesting, John. I know that you've been paying a lot of attention to this.

And in Washington, D.C., they've only seen an inch and a half so far, this season. They are way behind what they would normally see, which is about 14 inches.

So for tomorrow, it does look like right around that Metropolitan D.C. area in northern Virginia, portions of Maryland, we could see school closures. The roads are going to be very dangerous. But the bulk of the snow should be to the west of Washington, D.C. Generally speaking, heavier snowfall totals about a thousand feet and above.

But beyond then, the confidence in what happens with this area of low pressure is fairly low, because we take it out towards the mid- Atlantic. This is actually kind of a compilation of two weather systems. Going to develop off the mid-Atlantic coast, and from there, computer models are all over the place.

We know later on this afternoon where we were watching Jennifer, snowfall totals four to eight inches. It is a late season snow and they could see one of their top five March snowfalls. It does come late in the season. The last time they saw anything like this was back in 1970.

As I mentioned, for western Washington, looks like that's the heaviest snowfall from there. John, just can't really tell right now.

BERMAN: All right. We'll have to wait. Karen Maginnis, our thanks to you.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Thirty-five minutes past the hour.

Right now, John Kerry's maiden voyage as secretary of state taking him to Qatar this morning. He arrived overnight in Doha. Kerry's day began in Abu Dhabi. His Middle East trip also included stops in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Our Jill Dougherty is traveling with the secretary and will have a one-on-one interview with Kerry this morning.

BERMAN: We may learn today when the conclave will start, as the cardinals meet again this morning. But before that decision happens, an American cardinal in Rome to help choose the next pope is addressing the child sex abuse scandal. Cardinal Francis George, the archbishop of Chicago said the next pontiff must commit to, quote, "zero tolerance."

SAMBOLIN: And the search is on in New York City right now. Police are looking for the suspect in a hit-and-run crash that claimed the lives of two parents and their newborn son. Police are now looking for 44-year-old Julio Acevedo -- there's his picture -- who was arrested last month on drunk driving charges.

Expectant parents Nathan and Raizy Glauber, both 21, were killed while en route to the hospital early Sunday morning. Their baby boy was delivered after his mother's death, but he sadly died from his injuries.

BERMAN: This afternoon, the Senate Intelligence Committee votes on the nomination of John Brennan to be the next CIA director. He is expected to win approval in committee. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants a full Senate vote later this week, but Republicans are demanding more answers about last year's terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. They are threatening to hold up the process.

SAMBOLIN: The White House isn't impressed with former NBA star Dennis Rodman's attempt at basketball diplomacy. Rodman returned from a recent tour of North Korea with a message for President Obama from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The message, "Call me."

Here's what Jay Carney and journalist Laura Ling, who was detained in North Korea, had to say about this.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The United States has direct channels of communications with the DPRK. And instead of spending money on celebrity sporting events to entertain the elites of that country, the North Korean regime should focus on the well-being of its own people who have been starved, imprisoned and denied their human rights.

LAURA LING, CO-AUTHOR, "SOMEWHERE INSIDE": The fact that he was a guest of Kim Jong Un who was clearly wining and dining him and showing him the best that Pyongyang had to offer -- you know, I wasn't exactly shocked by it, let's say. It's Dennis Rodman, after all.


SAMBOLIN: Rodman may be taking a beating from the White House, but he did get a lot closer to Kim Jong Un than most U.S. diplomats ever have. When the two sat court side at a basketball game in North Korea.

BERMAN: All right. They can open up without warning. We're talking about these awful sinkholes. Of course, last week a man fell in claiming his life. Coming up, our cameras go underground to take you inside a real sinkhole.

SAMBOLIN: Plus, the strange standoff at sea over a stolen yacht that is packed with pizza and beer. Berman to the rescue?


BERMAN: Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone.

We are following developing weather warnings for you this morning. A powerful winter storm bearing down on the Midwest has already made a morning commute mess in Minneapolis.

SAMBOLIN: The Twin Cities saw heavy snowfall overnight. A winter weather advisory is still in effect this morning.

Jamie Yuccas from CNN affiliate WCCO live in Minneapolis this morning.

How bad is it there?

JAMIE YUCCAS, WCCO REPORTER: Well, you can see it's still snowing. We have about six inches on the ground currently and it's supposed to continue to keep snowing until about noon today. We could pick up 10 inches to a foot of snow. So things are pretty messy out here.

Those drivers are having a pretty tricky commute. Snowplows worked overnight and will be on 12-hour shifts but it's still pretty slippery out there. We have been getting these one to three-inch snowfalls over the last three weeks or so. So things are starting to pile up now that we've gotten that extra six inches this morning. Also want to show you it's that really heavy, thick snow so it gets really strenuous for people that may not have been out shoveling throughout that winter. They call that that heart attack snow. So be careful if you're in the Midwest and getting this heavy, Chicago snow. It's just sitting over the top of us for much of the day today.

Did some flight checks. Flights from here to Chicago cancelled because that's where the storm is headed next.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, we've been talking about that all morning. That's how people are going to be seriously affected with a major hub cancelling so many flights.

Thank you so much, Jamie Yuccas. Appreciate it.

BERMAN: All right. Forty-two minutes after the hour right now.

Soledad O'Brien here with a look at what's ahead on STARTING POINT.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're talking this morning about the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, fighting a new infection in his battle against cancer. His health is now taking a turn to the worse. We'll update you live with what's happening from Caracas this morning. It's been called a fragile situation. Many people are watching that.

Then, the U.N. Security Council will meet today, trying to consider new sanctions against North Korea in response to the recent nuclear test. What will those sanctions literally be? We'll talk about that with Congressman Ed Royce.

And actor Matthew Fox, yes, yes, hunky actor Matthew Fox is going to talk to us about his new movie called "Emperor." It's a really gripping story about the events right after World War II. And the U.S. kind of decide whether they should try the Japanese emperor as the war criminal. As you can imagine, the implications of that would be huge. We'll talk about that.

Then it's the shot scene around the world. We were discussing this yesterday.

SAMBOLIN: Seriously?

O'BRIEN: Yes, this guy right here. He shot that 60-foot shot, beat the buzzer, helped his high school team win the sectional championship. He'll join us to talk about what was going through his mind when he made that shot.

SAMBOLIN: New Rochelle High School. I'm going to stick around. I want to meet that young man. I hear he's also an excellent football player.

O'BRIEN: He's a tremendous athlete and a super nice guy.

SAMBOLIN: Yes, great. Well, thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: You bet. SAMBOLIN: All right. Forty-four minutes past the hour.

A new vantage point, that giant deadly sinkhole near Tampa. Look at this, demolition crews exposing what's left of the room after that sinkhole opened up under 37-year-old Jeff Bush's bed. He is presumed dead now after the hole swallowed him up. His brother desperately tried to save him. Crews stopped on several occasions to return personal effects to the Bush family like a Bible and a family portrait before they had to tear down the walls.

BERMAN: And a second sinkhole just three miles away has that neighborhood on edge. It opened up in a backyard yesterday. There was no structural damage to homes, though a fence dividing two homes was damaged. The family who lives there was at home at the time. They say they're shaken up now and they want to move.

SAMBOLIN: So two sinkholes both in Florida, within a few miles of one another. Are these gaping holes coincidence or more common than we actually think and know?

David Mattingly takes a closer look at sinkholes from the inside.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's just a few short steps down to an incredible underground sight.

JERRY BLACK, GEOLOGIST: This was the original cavity that eventually collapsed in.

MATTINGLY: A massive sinkhole carved out of solid limestone by drops of water.

(on-camera) So, this is what a sinkhole looks like from the inside.

BLACK: From the inside, yes, before you fill it up with the sand and dirt.

MATTINGLY: And if someone were living right on top of this, they'd be at risk.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Geologist, Jerry Black, says Sunshine State homeowners might be surprised to find out just how common these are.

(on-camera) What are the chances of someone having a house in central Florida and living on top of something like this?

BLACK: Very good. Not probably as close to the surface as this, but you definitely have cavities of this size all over the state of Florida.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Fossils found in this sinkhole show it's been around since the ice age. But no different, Black says, than the sinkholes we see opening up today. These are just a few of his pictures. But one thing they all have in common is water.

BLACK: Rain water is going to turn into ground water and that's what's naturally acidic. That's the device that dissolves the limestone and will help create these cavities.

MATTINGLY: What is unusual about this sinkhole, it's easy to get inside. Called the Devil's Den, it's open to tourists for viewing and diving. And dive instructor, Prince Johnston, takes me under for a look. I find that this seemingly placid pool of water is anything but.

PRINCE JOHNSTON, DIVER INSTRUCTOR: The water has gone down considerably because of the aquifer, but it's also risen when we've had hurricanes and tropical storms, it has risen another 45 feet.

MATTINGLY (on-camera): Forty-five feet?

JOHNSTON: Forty-five feet.

MATTINGLY: So, the water is constantly going up and down --

JOHNSTON: Up and down.

MATTINGLY: -- depending on drought or hurricane.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): Down here, it's easy to see how fluctuating ground water has silently wreaked havoc. I passed by limestone boulders as big as cars sitting on the bottom. And these same forces are still at work, compounded by the demand for fresh water.

JOHNSTON: It is progressively dropping yearly. And, that's basically over the whole state of Florida. An aquifer is getting lower and lower.

MATTINGLY: Perhaps, most striking to me, how appearances of this sinkhole are so misleading. A single beam of sunlight reveals the cavern is even bigger below the water line with tunnels and passageways carved deep into the darkness. But most disturbing could be the view from up top.

The round open is deceptively small. Little indication of the cavern that's just beneath my feet.

Until a hole like this opens up, there's really no warning, is there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Correct. It is that random and that sudden. And it could happen, obviously, overnight or at any time.

MATTINGLY: It can and it does with thousands of sinkholes opening up in Florida every year.

David Mattingly, CNN, Williston, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SAMBOLIN: How's that for scary, huh?

BERMAN: That was a crazy picture.

SAMBOLIN: Yes. Stay with us. EARLY START right after this quick break.


SAMBOLIN: Lebron James and Dwyane Wade continue to lead the Heat as they steamroll through the NBA.

BERMAN: Out of their minds. Bleacher Report, Vince Cellini, joins us this morning for more on the Heat's really dominant streak.

VINCE CELLINI, BLEACHER REPORT: Yes, it's very impressive. You know, some NBA teams may go a week or so without a loss. The Miami Heat has not dropped a game in over a month. The defending NBA champs kept it rolling Monday night in Minnesota, 97-81 the final. MVP candidate, Lebron James, shaking off a sore left knee, scored 20 points to go along with ten rebounds.

But it was Dwyane Wade doing the heavy lifting for the Heat, 32 points, ten assists, seven rebounds. Miami made it a franchise record 15 straight wins, and they'll shoot for 16 in a row Wednesday at home to struggling Orlando.

Monday in Waco, Texas, Baylor's Brittney Griner was honored on senior night and then put on a show in her final regular season home game, including her first dunk on her home floor since her freshman year. The 6'8" senior setting a big 12 single game record with 50 points in beating Kansas State, moving your top ranked lady bears to 29-1. Griner is second all-time in scoring in women's division 1 groups.

And the wait is over. The Golf Boys releasing their second music video.




CELLINI: The Golf Boys are PGA tour players, Bubba Watson, Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler, and Hunter Mahan, obviously with lots of down time between tournaments.

And finally this, Monday was World Tennis Day, and during an exhibition at Madison Square Garden, Rafael Nadal plucking Ben Stiller out of the crowd to participate, matching him up against nine-year-old Rebecca Suarez (ph) and stiller went McEnroe on her, trash talking his opponent before Rebecca actually had the last word, coming up with terrific shots like that one.

What great form. And eventually, Rebecca made the actor pay with a tremendous return that handcuffs Stiller, all of this, before celebrating victory and soaking in the ovation from the New York City crowd. So, well-done.

Want more sports? We remind you, visit where you can find out what Joe Flacco's new record deal means for other quarterbacks around the NFL. I'll tell you what it means. It means lots of money for those unsigned big star quarterbacks.

BERMAN: It means Joe Flacco is picking up lunch next time we go out. All right. Vince Cellini --


BERMAN: Our thanks to you.

SAMBOLIN: All right. Fifty-four minutes past the hour. Picture this. Harrison Ford anchoring the news. We're going to explain that.


SAMBOLIN: It's been unusual standoff off the coast of California. Police say two men and a woman stole a luxury sailboat from Sausalito and packed it with pizza and beer before beaching the craft about 20 miles south. They refused to surrender for hours before they were finally pulled off the yacht and arrested.

BERMAN: It sounds like an ill-advice party.

Marine scientists off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida successfully tagged a great white shark. Lydia, as they now call her, is 14 feet, 14 1/2 feet, actually, weighs about 2,000 pounds.

SAMBOLIN: She's a beauty.

BERMAN: -- caught, tag and released Lydia Sunday near the mouth of the St. John's River.

SAMBOLIN: And there's word from Hollywood this morning that Harrison Ford is joining Will Farrell and the cast of "The Anchorman" sequel. The "Hollywood Reporter" says Ford will play a veteran news anchor along the lines of Tom Brokaw, so probably, safe to say, he won't be doing this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love scotch. That is good.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look awfully nice tonight. Maybe don't wear a bra next time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're on the air right now.



BERMAN: Any chance we get.

SAMBOLIN: This is morning television.


SAMBOLIN: "Anchorman: The Legend" continues -- or comes out in December.

BERMAN: That is most definitely our show for this morning. That's all for EARLY START. I'm John Berman.

SAMBOLIN: And I'm Zoraida Sambolin. "STARTING POINT" with Soledad O'Brien starts right now.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Welcome, everybody. Our "STARTING POINT" this morning, a late winter storm. Right now, snow is falling in the Midwest and making its way toward Chicago and the nation's capital. We'll track that storm this morning with our live team coverage.

Then, the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, is in a delicate condition this morning. His health taking a turn for the worst. We'll bring you live to Karakas with an update.

And the Dow is getting closer and closer to an all-time high. Could we see history made today on Wall Street?

BERMAN: Martha Stewart in hot water this morning. Why a deal with JCPenney has her in court with Macy's.

And a teacher under investigation accused of writing this threat on the chalkboard. The guns are loaded, care to try me? Talking about a sick joke here or serious danger?

O'BRIEN: Teacher, serious danger.

Packed show for you this morning. We're going to be talking with actress, Daryl Hannah, as she joins our panel. And actor, Matthew Fox, is with us.

And high school basketball star, Khalil Edney, who's buzzer beater shot caught the nation's attention. We showed that to you yesterday. He is here today to talk to us about it live.

It's Tuesday, March 5th, and "STARTING POINT" begins right now.