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"State Of Emergency In New York; Flights Grounded By Winter Storm; Stranded Passengers Hit Snag

Aired January 3, 2014 - 05:30   ET


INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: One of the things you may want to notice, we're not seeing as much salting of the roads because it is so cold out here. Once you get the temperature on the ground below 15 degrees Fahrenheit, the salt really doesn't help any more.

So, that's what we're dealing with. Temperatures right now two degrees in Boston. That sounds bad, but we have to add in the wind chill. We're talking about winds coming out of the north at a good 20, gusting to even as high as 30 to 35 miles per hour. You factor that in, want to take a guess? Try negative 20 degrees. That is what it feels like outside right now for all the snow kind of coming at your face. It's so hard to even look at the camera right now.

So, that's what people are dealing with. Hopefully, not going outdoors and not going to work today, but if they are, we're still going to be seeing the snow. I mean, that low itself is still forming off the coastline. Places like Essex County, the north end, they could be seeing as much as two feet of snow. The reason they up those snow totals is that low forming so close to the coastline you're actually getting something called ocean effect snow.

So, you're getting all of that moisture kind of wrapping around that low and enhancing that snowfall amount and that's what they're going to be dealing with. Of course, here in Boston itself, not seeing blizzard warnings, but there are blizzard warnings out there in Massachusetts and even in Long Island and New York there. So, that's the concern today. Heavy amounts of snow still falling through the late day, tapering off by the afternoon. That's the good news.

But here's the deal. I keep showing you guys this is so key. It's a consistency of this snow. Notice I can just kick through this berm (ph) like it's nothing. That is great for plowing, but what's not good is when you have snow that is this cold and dry, just watch as I blow on it. I mean, it quickly blows around. That's the concern.

The visibility down to less than a quarter of a mile. So, even when the snow stops falling by late afternoon today, you're still going to be dealing with visibility issues and travel concerns.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: : And there is nothing worse than shoveling a whole bunch of snow and then it just blows around in drifts in your driveway, anyway. So, everyone keep that in mind.

PETERSONS: I wouldn't know, but I may be finding out.


ROMANS: The California girl about to find out about New England nor'easter. All right. Thanks so much.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Well, New York State is under a state of emergency right now so as New Jersey. We're talking about 14 inches of snow or more in places like Albany. Long islanders are also taking a beating. Close to a foot of snow falling there with blizzard conditions and this just in, the Long Island expressway, a ban of passenger and commercial vehicles has now been extended to eight o'clock this morning at the Nassau and Suffolk County.

Let's bring in Alexandra Field live from Islandia this morning, about 50 miles east of New York City. How are things there this morning? Any changes since you've been there?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Ana, if you can certainly see the wind whipping around me, you'll understand why this vehicle ban has been extended. Just behind me here, this is a service road. That's not the Long Island Expressway. The lane beyond it, that is the Long Island Expressway. And you actually just saw a car go by. So, we want to drive this point home that that road is still closed.

The ban was supposed to be lifted at five o'clock. The governor said yesterday that would only be weather permitting. And well, when you look at this, you can see why the ban has not been lifted. Here's one, these wind gusts we've been talking about it makes visibility a big problem especially when you're blowing around all of the snow that's already falling overnight -- perfectly timed. You can see these wind gusts.

OK. If we drop down here, you'll see how much snow is actually kicking around. We've got about five, maybe six inches of snow at this point. It's the same thing that Indra is seeing just as super fine really powdery snow. I'm really about halfway done because we know that Long Island is expecting to see almost a foot of snow. So, very much still in the thick of it right now. if we go on out here, you can see under those street lights again just how strong this wind is.

You can see those flurries really kicking up. So, anything that was on the ground is definitely blowing across Long Island Expressway. That's why it's so important for cars to stay off. Again, that ban in effect now until eight o'clock. It's for everyone's safety. We know the snow is expected to last for a few more hours out here.

And then we're talking about seeing those temperatures drop even more. Right now, it's 12 degrees. With the wind chill, it feels like it's six below. So, that's what we've got out of here -- Christine.

CABRERA: I'm feeling guilty that I'm inside and you're standing out there, but we do appreciate it. Thank you. Alexander Field reporting again from --




CABRERA: We'll switch, eventually.

ROMANS: I'm feeling grateful, not guilty, that I'm reporting inside this morning.

Thousands of air travelers in the northeast, they're going nowhere this morning. Well over 2,000 flights have been canceled between Thursday and today, 8,000 more delayed. Those numbers are climbing, of course, and will throughout the day. Our breaking news coverage of the massive winter storm continuing now with Pamela Brown live from New York's LaGuardia Airport.

And I just checked sort of the flight aware status, and it looks like O'Hare, the worse, Newark, second worst, and then, there is you out there at LaGuardia where a lot of people are waiting, and there's a lot of yellow on those boards, right, Pamela?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. But I have to say, I can't complain too much, guys. At least, I am in inside -- assignment here, but you're right.


BROWN: There is a lot of yellow on the board indicating the flight cancellations. So far, we just checked on, and there's 1,395 flight cancellations so far today and we're seeing that number tick up throughout the morning, really, as we see the conditions pick up. In fact, Newark airport around 300 flight cancellations. As you mentioned, Christine, Chicago O'Hare has seen a lot of flight cancellations, Boston Logan Airport.

So, the bottom line, there's just been a lot of flights coming and going in these major hubs, which is really having a ripple effect for travelers no matter where they're trying to go in the U.S. And if you look behind me here, the ticket counter at American Airlines, you'll see there's really no passengers there. Usually, passengers are trying to get on this early morning flights. It's desolate.

So, that's an indication that travelers are checking with their airlines and finding out that their flights are, indeed, canceled and just not coming to the airports. But good news here, the airlines we know at least American Airlines cooperating with passengers, working with them, not charging them cancellation fees and that kind of thing.

So, passengers that were traveling either yesterday or today are able to change their flights without a fee depending on what airline they're with. So, that certainly is making it a little bit easier on passengers today.

ROMANS: And when a big airline like American does that, then the other airlines tend to follow suit. One thing about the agreement you have when you buy that ticket, they're not obligated to put you on the first available flight on a different airline. They'll put you on theirs. So, you know, there could be a ripple effect here for the next couple of days, no question. We'll check with those other airlines too. Pamela, thank you so much.


CABRERA (voice-over): OK. Now, take a look at this picture overnight. Plows lined up. This is in Astoria Queens neighborhood. That's in New York City. This picture taken by one of our producers from the subway on her way into work last night. So, those plows are busy. The city's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, saying the sanitation department is prepared with nearly 2,000 plows and 450 salt spreaders at the ready.

ROMANS (voice-over): Chicago is a city that knows a little thing or two about winter storms and it has taken a beating since Wednesday. Six more inches, six more, falling overnight. That's on top of the 12 inches already on the ground. This is the worst storm to hit the windy city in a couple of years. O'Hare airport crippled by the winter weather. As I said, that is the biggest hub for flight delays right now. Hundreds of flights canceled and that, of course, creates a ripple effect of delays across the country.


CABRERA (on-camera): OK. Travel trouble. We have a different story as we continue to watch other stories this morning.

Another snag for the 52 passengers rescued from a Russian research vessel in Antarctica after being trapped in the ice since Christmas Eve. The journey home has suddenly been halted again. Anna Coren tracking the latest development. She's joining us live from Hong Kong this morning. More ice, huh?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely more ice. They thought they were in the clear in open water and then, sure enough, they have sailed into about three to four feet deep of ice which is set pretty much around the ship. Basically, what they're doing is moving forward, reversing, moving forward. This is the movement if you like of an icebreaker, but they hoping to get to open water in the next day or so.

They're quite hopeful of that, but not only is the Australian icebreaker stuck but so is the Chinese icebreaker which launched that helicopter to rescue those 52 scientists, tourists, journalists from that stranded vessel. So, the Chinese are stuck. The Australians are stuck. The research ship is still stuck. Everyone is stuck.

But, I think it's just going to be a matter of waiting out until the ice sort of dislodges and they're actually free to head home. But, as far as the passengers go, 52 passengers, they will either head to Casey Station which is an Australian post in Antarctica or head straight to Hobart, Tasmania, which as you know, is at the very bottom of Australia. But you know, it will be a few weeks before they reach (INAUDIBLE) and that's for sure.

CABRERA: Sounds like patience is the name of the game as it continues to be.

COREN: It is.

CABRERA: Thank you. Anna Coren reporting.

ROMANS: Now, also look at your other headlines. Troubling developments out of Libya this morning.


ROMANS (voice-over): We're getting reports of two U.S. citizens detained by authorities for allegedly scouting. That's what they're calling at the University of Benghazi and a British man and a woman from New Zealand two found shot to death near an oil terminal 60 miles west of Tripoli.

CABRERA (voice-over): Also new this morning, "The Washington Post" reporting that the NSA is trying to build a super computer capable of breaking nearly all types of encryption. This would be able to crack codes, protecting banking, medical, business, and government records around the world. The paper cites documents released by Edward Snowden and those documents also imply the NSA still has a lot of work to do on this project.

ROMANS: New this morning, secretary of state, John Kerry, in the west bank meeting with Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. Kerry arrived in Israeli Thursday to negotiate a Mid East peace deal that he says is, quote, "not mission impossible."

He had dinner with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who says there is growing doubt in Israel that Palestinians want peace. Kerry vows to work to narrow differences on a framework that addressed these core issues including borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state.

CABRERA: A California man has been arrested in the brutal murder of the beloved catholic priest. Police say Gary Lee Bullock killed Father Eric Freed (ph) during a violent struggle inside a church rectory. Freed's body was discovered Wednesday morning by parishioners at St. Bernard's Catholic Church in Eureka. Dead of an apparent blunt force trauma. No word just yet on a possible motive.

ROMANS: The Supreme Court could take action today on a request to block a key component of the president's health care law. Several religious nonprofits want the requirement to provide birth control, another reproductive coverage, thrown out. Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a temporary stay on New Year's Eve, putting the provision on hold. The court has no official deadline to act.

CABRERA: Two hearings scheduled today in the heartbreaking case of Jahi McMath, the 13-year-old, who was declared brain dead following complications from tonsil surgery. Her family is fighting to keep her on a ventilator. A federal judge has now ordered settlement talks today with lawyers for a California children hospital. McMath's mother says the girl still shows signs of life and she wants her to be moved to a different facility. ROMANS: The U.S. marines delaying a physical fitness requirement for female recruits. Starting this year, all female marines were supposed to be able to do at least three pull-ups. But officials say more than half of the women in boot camp couldn't meet the standard. The delay is sparking some new debate about the place of women in the armed forces as thousands of combat roles are said to open for women in 2016.

CABRERA: Officials at the Vatican say Pope Francis drew more than 6.6 million people to his events in 2013. The figures are based on the number of tickets issued as well as estimates of number of people at events where tickets were not needed like the pope's weekly appearances overlooking St. Peters Square.


ROMANS (on-camera): All right. Coming up, why a former banker declared legally dead more than a year ago just found himself very much alive in front of a judge.


CABRERA (on-camera): Welcome back to EARLY START. Let's look at headlines this morning.


CABRERA (voice-over): Former secretary of defense, Robert Gates, is recovering this morning after hurting his neck in a fall. In fact, he fractured his first vertebrae in his Washington State home when fell. The 70-year-old is now home and resting after being treated at two hospitals. He is expected to make a full recovery. Gates, as you know, led the Pentagon during parts of both President George W. Bush and President Obama's administrations.

ROMANS (voice-over): A flagrant act of arson Thursday at the Chinese consulate in San Francisco. You can see it there. The FBI says there's no evidence of terrorism, but there certainly appears to be intentional. Surveillance footage captured a person apparently pouring two buckets of gasoline on the front door then lighting it on fire. The consulate is calling on the U.S. to provide more protection to personnel. No injuries were reported.

CABRERA: A (INAUDIBLE) dealer. It's about crude oil shipped from North Dakota and Montana. The Department of Transportation say it has a lower flash points and traditional oils making it much more flammable. This warning comes after a string of recent explosions. The latest you'll recall in North Dakota on Monday. The region has seen an oil boom of late with companies relying chiefly on trains for transport. Now in July, 47 people died in a derailment in Quebec.


ROMANS (on-camera): All right. Let's take a look at what's coming up on "New Day." Michaela Pereira and John Berman joining us now, and they are there on the ground! (LAUGHTER)


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have a theory. Ana and Christine, I have a theory. I have a theory that somebody got a little upset about John Berman and I looking so warm and cozy in the studio yesterday.


PEREIRA: So, here we are outside. The big story, of course, today is this, the nor'easter that is really kicking the butt of the entire northeast region.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: -- meteorologist term.

PEREIRA: It is. Indra told me that. It is cold. We're going to tell you all across the board what is happening weather wise. We're going to track some of the transportation issues. There's a lot of concerns out there today.

BERMAN: Thousands of flights. Well over 2,000 flights canceled. Six inches of snow here, more than two feet in parts of Boston, and it's not just the snow as you guys know. It is really cold. Eleven here below zero with the wind chill and this is warmer than some places. It's really only one thing you can do. You got to snuggle --

PEREIRA: Find a friend and snuggle.

BERMAN: You got to snuggle, guys.

ROMANS: I've been under very good authority that Canada and Boston is the reason why both of you are out there.

PEREIRA: I think you're right.


ROMANS: You both have a lot of personal experience of being cold in the winter.


ROMANS: It's winter and it's cold. Back to you.


ROMANS: Thanks, guys. We'll talk to you soon.

CABRERA: That's one way to wake up, I guess, right?

ROMANS: All right. Alive and kicking. A former banker suspected of faking his own death appeared in a Georgia courtroom Thursday. A federal complaint says Aubrey Lee Price falsified documents to conceal more than $20 million in investor losses. Price managed in 2012 reportedly leaving behind a suicide note, vanishing.

He was declared legally dead about a year ago. Police picked him up Tuesday after a routine traffic stop. Price could face 30 years in prison. He's due back in court on Monday.

CABRERA: Now, take a look at this out of California. Search and rescue teams in Los Angeles air-lifting an injured hiker to safety. Police say the 18-year-old woman was with friends at a popular waterfall when she slipped, falling about eight feet breaking both ankles. The woman was taken to nearby hospital for treatment.

ROMANS: All right. Coming up, big news from one of the big three automakers. It could be a sign the economy is really improving. We'll have that for you after the break.


ROMANS: All right. Welcome back to EARLY START and our breaking news coverage of the monster storm pounding the northeast. Right now, a hundred million people right there in the middle of it, the first winter storm of 2014. I mean, the pictures have been just incredible from Boston where a foot of snow or more has buried parts of that city. It's four degrees and the wind chill there this morning makes it feel like 20 below.

Long Islanders in New York looking at a long day of shoveling and plowing ahead. Close to a foot of snow falling in New York's eastern suburbs. That's forcing the governor to shut down the Long Island Expressway overnight.

And if you had plans to fly today, you know, you're most likely grounded. You got 10,000 flights, more than 10,000 flights either delayed or canceled in the past 24 hours. Worst airport right there at O'Hare followed second very closely by Newark. Check your flights.

In the meantime, it's "Money Time" this morning. After the best year in stocks since 1997 and you had an amazing year last year in your 401(k), and then the first day of this year is a little bit of a downer. The Dow lost 135 points. The NASDAQ and the S&P also fell. In fact, this is the first time markets started the year on a down note since 2008.

One stock that really took a hit was Apple. It was downgraded by a Wells Fargo analyst on concern that the balance of power this year will shift from the phone carriers -- phone makers rather to the carriers so that stock got hurt. You probably have that one in your 401(k) somewhere.

This should be a big day for Ford. Auto sales for the month of December and for the year are out later this morning. Ford has already said that it will be the best-selling car brand in the United States for the year. Ford got there this year with big sellers like the F-150 pickup truck, the Focus which is likely to finish as the world's most popular car this year and the Ford Fiesta and the Ford Fusion. It has been a strong year for auto sales in general in the U.S. Analysts expect sales to finish at about 15.6 million cars and light trucks.

And a big deal to tell you about in the cyber security space. Hot industry there. The story is everyday about companies like Snapchat and Skype being hacked because as they had (ph) in the Target. We got news yesterday that FireEye would buy a company called Mandiant for a billion dollars. Now, Mandiant is a computer forensics firm best known for unveiling a secretive Chinese military unit that's believed to be behind hacks on some of these big U.S. companies.

FireEye shares jumped 20 percent after that announcement. Analysts say they expect to see more of these kinds of cyber deals as hackers get more sophisticated and ambitious.

Coming up, a man who's lived in the U.S. illegally for 20 years, he's told he's finally allowed to practice the law. What does this mean for the millions of undocumented immigrants in America?


ROMANS: Welcome back to EARLY START this morning.


ROMANS (voice-over): Utah's battle over same-sex marriage heads to the Supreme Court and the high court could act as early as today on that state's request to put gay marriages on hold. Now, the state is appealing to the high court after district court in Utah struck down the state's ban saying it violated federal guarantees of equal protection. Ever since that decision came down, Utah clerks offices have been flooded with gay couples looking to get marriage licenses.

A landmark decision from a California Supreme Court ruling an undocumented immigrant can practice law. It's the first decision of its kind. It could set a national precedent. Sergio Garcia born in Mexico had not been allowed to practice law in California despite having a law school degree and passing the state bar exam. On Thursday, the court found Garcia met the requirements to practice law in California and granted him a law license. We're going to hear more about this story from Sergio Garcia himself coming up live on "New Day."

"New Day" starts right now with more breaking coverage of that winter storm.


PEREIRA (voice-over): Breaking news, the nor'easter of 2014 overnight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a mess. The side roads are just horrible.

PEREIRA: The storm hits full force. Howling winds, whiteout conditions. Nearly two feet of snow in areas. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's pretty slick all over the place and a lot of snow accumulation.

PEREIRA: One hundred million Americans in its path.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take your time if you're out there. It's pretty bad.

BERMAN (voice-over): Major cities practically shut down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Temperatures will be extreme and that's a serious hazard.

BERMAN: Airplanes grounded, thousands of flights canceled and leaving passengers stranded.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very frustrated. We just want to get there.

BERMAN: And this is just round one. The next phase? A brutal subzero cold. We're tracking the monster storm with everything you need to know to make it through.

PEREIRA: Your "New Day" starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is "New Day" with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.


PEREIRA (on-camera): Good morning! And welcome to "New Day," a very chilly "New Day." It's not subzero, but it sure feels like it. Eleven degrees, Time Warner Circle -- Columbus Circle, rather, just outside of Central Park. John Berman and I are here. Chris and Kate are warm and cuddly somewhere with their families inside. We're outside our home here at the Time Warner Building and the first nor'easter of 2014.

It's not letting up. We're standing right here where the crews in the city are busy trying to clear some of the snows off the sidewalk. We're told there's about five or six inches of snow in Central Park this morning. And as you can see, more is falling. But get this, in parts of Massachusetts, it has been hit hard.

They've got more than 20 inches of snow already. Check out the map. You can actually see where the storm is right now. We're going to follow it all morning long. Every major city in the northeast is covered, and that has forced cancellation of classes at schools across the region to the --


BERMAN: Kids are screaming in joy this morning.


BERMAN: Not everyone, though. I want to show you something else. Look at this. This is the Long Island Expressway, which is normally one of the busiest highways in the country, packed any time of day or night, but right now, it is completely empty. The state of New York shut this road down and other major arteries as well. And I got to tell you, the roads are not the only problem.

Today alone, about 1,500 flights have been canceled, that's in addition to the thousands canceled in the past three days. And folks, that could get worse. I have one other thing I can tell you, it's cold.

PEREIRA: Do you think it is?

BERMAN: It's really, really cold. We showed you 11 degrees with the wind chill just below zero. I want to put up a map. This is what it feels like across the country. Single digits in many spots, below in other spots. And what does that really feel like? Awful.

PEREIRA: Well, and we wanted to feel it ourselves. We also thought it might have been punishment for being so warm and cozy yesterday, but we wanted to get out here. In fact, we scrambled our teams across the U.S., covering this breaking situation throughout the night.