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Seven Dead as Blizzard Buries Eastern U.S.; People Prepare for Below Zero Lows; Religious Coalition Fights Obamacare Rule; Colorado Continues Pot Sales Experiment; Historic Cold Expected for NFL Playoff Game

Aired January 4, 2014 - 09:00   ET


ALISON KOSIK, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Alison Kosik.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. It really was fascinating, by the way though.

KOSIK: I know.

BLACKWELL: 9:00 here on the East Coast. 6:00 out West. This is NEW DAY SATURDAY. A lot of people are digging out.

The big story this morning for tens of millions of people who were just walloped by that deadly winter storm.

KOSIK: And that includes Green Bay Packers fans who got busy shoveling Lambeau Field for Sunday's playoff battle against the 49ers.

BLACKWELL: From the Midwest to Maine, the monster system dumped as much as two feet of snow, ushered in bitter temperatures and in some places, 23 below -- actually that's in New Hampshire.

KOSIK: The storm is also being blamed for seven deaths, including an elderly woman in Pennsylvania who wandered away from home.

BLACKWELL: For travelers, you can understand the major headaches -- cars that are frozen in their tracks, just really frozen in the street; and thousands of flights canceled and the number today of flights canceled continues to creep upward, now nearly 800 canceled so far today.

KOSIK: And it is not over yet because in the next few days, almost half the country is expected to plunge into bone-chilling cold like we haven't seen in more than a decade.

BLACKWELL: Pedram Javaheri is keeping an eye on the arctic blast from the CNN Severe Weather Center. Alexandra Field is on Long Island.

KOSIK: But first, let's get the latest from Margaret Conley in Boston. Margaret, good morning to you. I don't know what -- it's about two degrees Fahrenheit there? And how does that actually feel?

MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's about right. It doesn't matter what temperature it is anymore, Alison. It is freezing. In some parts of Massachusetts, there was up to two feet of snow. And last night, overnight, there were near record temperature lows.

If you look around on the street right now, you don't see many people out. If they are walking, most of them are walking in the middle of the roads where it's more safe and there's ice here. So you have to be really careful.

Now, there are concerns about frost bite because it is so cold. So if you have to be out there and you have to be shoveling snow, be very careful. We have gotten warnings from the local doctors saying to put on gloves. If you feel your fingers losing sensitivity, make sure you get inside. Don't tough it out because some people do have to be out here shoveling snow. We saw a postman down the street not too long ago.

But speaking of shoveling snow, right here, you can see this bucket. A car pulled out of this parking space. And here in south Boston, there is a code of conduct when it comes to shoveling out your parking space. Once you leave and you put something there, no one else can park there or there could be big trouble -- Alison, Victor.

BLACKWELL: Lawn chairs on my street. They put a lawn chair out and you park in that spot, there was going to be a discussion.

KOSIK: I'm sure.

BLACKWELL: Yes. Margaret Conley in Boston for us, thank you.

KOSIK: Not far away in New York, the temperature last night dropping to near zero for the first time since January 1994.

BLACKWELL: We've got Alexandra Field on Long Island with more there.

Alexandra -- and we're seeing this snow boar here. But Alexandra, give us an idea of if people are out now because at about 9:00 people start creeping out, you see folks on the roads. Have you seen it increased?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we are starting to see some people head out. And that's because we've actually added a few degrees in the right direction as well. Still bitterly cold but at least we've jumped from two degrees before the sun came up to about five degrees right now. So a small victory. We'll take whatever we can get.

This cold blast follows the snowfall that blanketed New York City in eight inches of snow and left about a foot of snow on parts of Long Island. You can see that the plows were out overnight trying to clear some of the streets. Long Island officials are telling us that they were prepared for the storm. Their teams were in place to try to minimize and avoid any complications possible.

Still a storm of this magnitude can bring trouble with it. In this case, Long Island officials tell us that did include a deadly accident related to the weather.

Here's what one official had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL LINDSAY, SUFFOLK COUNTY LEGISLATURE: We had over 3500 calls to the Suffolk County Police Department. There were 350 rescues roughly and unfortunately we did have one fatality early Thursday evening. There was a young lady from Smithtown was killed on the parkway when her vehicle skidded out of control and hit a tree. So our thoughts and prayers went out to her family. And we just ask people to be careful.


FIELD: And you can this morning that some cars are back out here on main street. And people are starting to go about their business again after spending most of the day indoors yesterday. But temperature should continue to rise here today, but don't be fooled because we know that very cold front is right behind it -- Alison, Victor.

KOSIK: I see the sun on your face. Is it providing any warmth at all?

FIELD: You know, just the sight of it is so encouraging. It gets rid of that mental trigger. It makes us really feel good. Like maybe we're sort of through this even though we know it's coming.

BLACKWELL: It warms your spirit.


BLACKWELL: Not your body. But it warms your spirit.

Alexandra Field, thank you.

KOSIK: And the dangerous winter weather is being blamed for another death. Yesterday, a 66-year-old Wisconsin man died from hypothermia.

BLACKWELL: And people are being urged to stay indoors this weekend because the frigid arctic blast is pushing through. Places like North Dakota can expect temperatures 30 degrees below zero.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is in the CNN Severe Weather Center.

Pedram, that 30 below, is that the actual temperature or with the wind chill?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that's the actual temperature. That's the Ambient air temperature, guys, without the wind chill. So when you factor in winds that we expect to be around 20 to 30 miles per hour frost bite, as you heard in that last piece, they are going to be imminent.

And I just want to show you some of these temperatures. These are the air temperatures that are forecast across portions of the upper Midwest and really much of the plains as well. Zero to 10 below. A 10-mile-per-hour wind gets you wind chills down to 28 below zero. Frost bite in about 30 minutes. Twenty to 30 below. Those are areas around North Dakota, including portion of Minneapolis. You know, I have to say Green Bay and Milwaukee, where temperatures could drop that low in the overnight hours.

A 20-mile-per-hour wind, that's also in the forecast. Gets you a wind chill of about 61 below zero. Frost bite at this point becomes a 10- minute concern. That's why schools across the entire state of Minnesota are closed on a Monday because of that air temperature being that cold.

The first day kids going to be returning to school from the holiday break. And officials, of course, don't want kids to be standing outside in the elements for more than a -- even a few minutes there when temperatures are that cold.

But I'll show you something here. As far as record cold high temperatures. Because Minneapolis, home to some of the hardiest folks in the entire country, has a high temperature forecast -- a high temperature of minus 18 degrees on Monday. The coldest high they've ever seen in the city is minus 14. That dates back to the early 1900s.

Chicago's high about 11 below. That would be the all-time coldest high temperature they've seen. And you see can how Cincinnati and Detroit also do in this department when it comes to highs compared to historic cold high temperatures. In fact wind chills again in Minneapolis, down to 60 below expected there.

We know across Cincinnati and also Detroit, only five times in their history have they seen temperatures drop below zero. It is expected to happen again as we head in -- towards Tuesday morning across some of these areas. And of course, before all that, the second storm system of the season of the year begins to push in. And significant snow going to be expected across much of the upper Midwest with this. We're talking about, say, 12 to possibly 14 inches on a few isolated spots.

Indianapolis, St. Louis and Chicago get in on it, guys. And we talk about snow, of course, being highly reflective. The color white doesn't allow the sun's radiation to be absorbed so the temperatures not going to be at all warmed up across this region and arctic air comes in right behind it.

BLACKWELL: Wow. I don't know if people have sweaters and hats and gloves warming up for this.

JAVAHERI: They need them all. Yes.

BLACKWELL: They should probably stay in. Pedram --

KOSIK: Bring on summer. Bring on summer today.


BLACKWELL: Thank you, Pedram.

Well, today might not be, you know, the best day at the airport. Nearly 800 flights have already been canceled.

KOSIK: And it's only 9:00.

BLACKWELL: Only 9:00 and not just today. Airlines are still playing catch-up from this week when thousands more flights were canceled. They are trying to help travelers, of course, by tweaking their policies to let people change their flights without paying fees. That's nice enough. But as always, the best advice is to check with the airline before you head out and you are just stuck there waiting.

Long lines. High demands. Not for a seat on the plane, but for a different kind of high. Recreational pot sales, they are booming in Colorado this week. We're going to talk to a retailer about this really historical experience.

KOSIK: Obamacare, just a week old now but it's already facing another big test with the Supreme Court.

Up next, the key provision that's stoked a big controversy among religious groups.


BLACKWELL: It is a beautiful day.

Good morning, Washington. Wake up. Now you don't have to get out of bed, but it's time to wake up.

Thirty-seen degrees. All the sun there today. So it's going to be warm in comparison to much of the country.

KOSIK: Yes. Lucky them.

BLACKWELL: Thirty-seven degrees above freezing.

A live shot of the White House there. And it's empty now, but it will not be for long because the Obamas are due to fly home to Washington tonight. The president and his family spent two weeks in Hawaii. This is really the longest trip to the islands since the president was elected.

KOSIK: And the president is going to be coming home to some familiar fights.

BLACKWELL: Yes, like Obamacare. And this week a coalition of religious non-profits asked the Supreme Court to block a key provision.

KOSIK: It forces them to offer birth control to their workers and they want to be included in an exemption for religious groups.

Sunlen Serfaty joins us now from Washington with more.

Good morning, Sunlen. So how soon are we going to see this decision by the court? SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alison and Victor. Well, we're standing by. It really could come over the course of the weekend or into early next week.

Now under Obamacare, it's a mandate for non-profit religious based organizations to provide birth control to their workers. Churches and house of worships are already exempt. But this week, a home run by the elderly, by Catholic nuns in Denver, has asked the Supreme Court to block the enforcement of this. The nuns argued that providing birth control to their employees violates their religious beliefs.

Now Planned Parenthood argues that this issue is being overcomplicated. They say it's a larger legal battle that's coming from the businesses.

Let's take a listen to what they say.


CECILE RICHARDS, PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF AMERICA: The bigger question is that there are for-profit companies who are trying to say they don't want to provide birth control coverage, even though they are for-profit companies. It is really want to say because of their CEOs personal opposition to birth control they shouldn't be required to provide this kind of coverage.

That's a very separate and distinct issue than the one that this order of nuns has raised.


SERFATY: And that's also what's really important here. This legal battle is really being fought on two fronts, from the religious based non-profits, but also from businesses as well.

Many corporations, Alison and Victor, are mounting this very same argument.

BLACKWELL: So what does it mean for Obamacare moving forward permanently?

SERFATY: Well, whatever ruling comes out would not be the final word. And that's important to note. It won't have an overall impact on the health care law. Any decision we get would be limited in nature. And that means it would only deal with whether to block enforcement temporarily. Later then federal courts could take up the issue further.

BLACKWELL: And a lot of people believe this is headed straight to the Supremes to make some --


BLACKWELL: -- final decisions.

Sunlen Serfaty, in Washington, thank you. KOSIK: And did you know the grass is looking a lot greener for some store owners in Colorado? That's after sales of recreational pot became legal his week.

Up next, we're going to talk to a store owner about how much weed he's selling and how much green he's getting.


KOSIK: I love this. So this guy didn't even know that he was holding the winning ticket or a winning ticket. I was talking about the second winner of last month's $648 million Mega Millions jackpot.

BLACKWELL: So this is the big winner. His name is Steve Tran. And he's a delivery driver from northern California. According to California lottery officials, Tran was oblivious for two weeks about this new fortune.

KOSIK: So Tran is saying that he bought tickets for the Mega Millions game all along his delivery route but it wasn't until a few nights ago that he realized one of them came from the San Jose gift shop that sold one of the winning tickets.

BLACKWELL: Imagine the moment when he realizes that the ticket is his.

KOSIK: Quit. Quit your job.

BLACKWELL: Yes. That's what he did.


Tran said he left the boss -- his boss a message saying he didn't think he was coming in today or tomorrow or ever again. So that was the end of that. Congratulations.

Long lines, high demand, lots of cash. That's how the first week of Colorado's recreational pot sales went this week. Customers stood outside, braved the cold temperatures. They took advantage of the historic new law and purchased legal weed.

KOSIK: Tim Cullens is one of over two dozen Denver pot retailers. And he's joining us live.

Good morning, Tim. There are reports shop owners as a group did more than $1 million in business on the first day alone. Tell me how your sales were doing this week.

TIM CULLENS, CO-OWNER, EVERGREEN APOTHECARY: We had a record-breaking week. We have seen as many as 350 people a day. Yesterday almost 400.

BLACKWELL: You know, and here's my question for you, it is a plant, so it has to have time to grow, right? If you've got so many people waiting in line and waiting to buy it, is there going to -- going to come a time when supply just does not fulfill the demand? CULLENS: I don't anticipate that will be an issue for us. We have been preparing for today for months now. And we're stocked up and able to serve all the customers that show up here. In Colorado, a resident can purchase as much as an ounce or 28 grams and a nonresident can purchase a quarter of an ounce or seven grams.

We've limited purchases to a quarter for all of our customers. And we -- that will get us through. That will absolutely get us through. We will not have a shortage.

KOSIK: So give us a sense of who your customers are? Are they women? Are they men? Are they young? Are they old? Are they buying pot in plant form? Are they buying it in food or drink form? Give us some details about that.

CULLENS: So it's been amazing to see the people come through the line. And the lines are long and they are all shapes, sizes and colors. I've seen -- I've seen 21-year-olds through 75-year-olds. It is -- it's just amazing. There is no stereotype. When people are given the choice of how they like to relax, they are obviously choosing cannabis. And there isn't just one type of person that we've seen. It is all over the place.

As far as products that are in the store, I know there is the -- there's the stereotypical pot brownie. And we do have those as well. But everything from infused drinks to cannabis flowers can be found in there. There are chocolate bars. There are crackers. A whole range of products including vaporizers which are one of the most popular products on the market right now.

BLACKWELL: Weed crackers. I imagined everything else you said, the brownies and the fruit and the candy and all that, but crackers I didn't -- I didn't know that you actually had those on the shelves.

CULLENS: Yes. Yes.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about one legal issue. There is a concern about keeping this off the black market. And how are you, how are retailers tracking the inventory to keep the legal pot off the black market?

CULLENS: We are the solution to crushing the black market. In Colorado, we card people at the door, number one to establish their age, number two to establish their residency. There are so many people who are buying cannabis through a retail store for the first time.

I spoke with a frustrated "Denver Post" reporter yesterday who was given the assignment of finding someone who had never smoked cannabis and was smoking it now as a result of legalization. And she couldn't find anyone and she had been looking for two days.

And what that says to me is the black market has been alive and well for so long. And the lines that we're experiencing are a result of people not purchasing on the black market. The regulation and control of cannabis through retail stores will crush the black market. The prohibition that's gone on for the past 70 years is obviously not working.

We're able to keep it out of the hands of children, but much less -- or very similar to a liquor store. Once it leaves the store, it's in the hands of the person who purchased it to be responsible with it. Obviously the resale of it or crossing state lines with it is illegal and we inform people through a public education campaign that that is illegal and --


CULLENS: And the state -- go ahead.

KOSIK: I was going to say. Thank you but we're out of time. But thanks very much for your time.

CULLENS: OK. I appreciate it. Thank you.

KOSIK: Sorry to cut you off. It is one of those issues that just keeps going on and on.

BLACKWELL: Yes. And people have been talking about it for some time. I'm sure the conversation will continue.

Still to come on NEW DAY, just how big of a football fan are you? Are you big enough of a fan to sit outside at a stadium in temperatures that, say, 20 degrees below zero?

We'll tell you which playoff game this weekend could go as -- go down as the coldest game ever. The video gives it away.

And if the teams offer free coffee and hot chocolate, is that enough to lure fans out? We'll find out.


BLACKWELL: Tomorrow's Packers/49ers playoff game could go down as the coldest game in football history.

Jared Greenberg has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

JARED GREENBERG, BLEACHER REPORT: Victor, it's being compared to a game that -- maybe it's one of your favorites. The infamous Ice Bowl.

BLACKWELL: You know I have favorite football games. I do.

GREENBERG: The Ice Bowl is one of them.

BLACKWELL: Yes. '67. Yes.

GREENBERG: The frozen tundra at Lambeau Field.

Temperatures tomorrow could reach minus 20 with the wind chill of around 40 below. But don't worry, tickets are still sold out and hundreds of fans showed up at Lambeau Field yesterday to shovel out the stands ahead of tomorrow's game yesterday. In addition to the layers and layers of clothing that will be needed to stay warm, the team is planning on providing free coffee and hot chocolate during the game. And a local store will also give out 70,000 hand warmers to fans.

The game could be even colder than the aforementioned 1967 Ice Bowl. And in that game, Victor, you may remember, estimated 48 degrees below zero. Packers ended up winning that game. And maybe that's a good sign for Green Bay fans this go around as they take on the 49ers.

Free football for military members in Cincinnati in an effort to avoid the Bengals playoff game being blacked out in the Cincy television market. Local companies bought up tickets and will donate them for local service members. Business people in Indianapolis and Green Bay also stepped up. No NFL games are scheduled to be blacked out this upcoming weekend. So that's real good news.

You've got to sell out 100 percent of your tickets in the playoffs in order for the local TV market to be able to see your game.


BLACKWELL: Yes. And they were up against it.

GREENBERG: They got an extension from the NFL.


GREENBERG: And then they finally got it down.

BLACKWELL: All right. Jared, thank you.

KOSIK: Coming up at the top of the hour in the CNN NEWSROOM, an NFL player murders his girlfriend and killed himself. Now his mother is suing his team.

Did traumatic brain injuries drive him to do it? The family's attorney joins us in a TV exclusive, 10:00 a.m. right here on CNN.

Pope Francis has been known to cold call the faithful and it happened again this time in Spain.

BLACKWELL: Yes. But when Francis called five nuns on New Year's Day, the sisters were not home. So he left a voice mail.

KOSIK: And experts say that is the Pope's voice. He opened jokingly, saying, what are the nuns doing that they can't answer? He continued, "I am Pope Francis. I wish to greet you in this end of the year. I will see if I can call you later. And may God bless you."

BLACKWELL: Well, the nuns decided they would just wait for the Pope to call back. And sure enough, a few hours later, they say he did.

Speaking of angels.

KOSIK: Snow angels.

BLACKWELL: Snow angels. They're really so yesterday. (LAUGHTER)

Look at this. Three boys in Minnesota, well, they're brothers. They're not really boys. But they built this 10-foot shark out of snow. Took them a whopping 95 hours to make.

KOSIK: Get a good look at the fins, the tail. Those along took them 10 hours to build. The brothers say they made their first snow sculpture three years ago and it's since become a family tradition.

Thanks for watching today. We're going to see you right back here at the top of the hour.

BLACKWELL: But up next, an all-new "YOUR MONEY." New York's billionaire mayor, he is now, well -- so sad, just a billionaire.



BLACKWELL: So what's next for Michael Bloomberg? Christine Romans takes you inside the business of being Bloomberg.

KOSIK: "YOUR MONEY" starts right now.

BLACKWELL: We'll see back at the top of the hour. Thanks for joining us this morning.