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Deep Freeze Grips Nation; Thousands of Flights Canceled; Kerry: No Troops in Iraq; Deadly Plane Crash In Colorado; Flu Spreading Quickly

Aired January 6, 2014 - 08:00   ET





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can prepare for it but can't really prepare for it.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Arctic nation, 140 million Americans frozen out this morning. The coldest temperatures in 20 years. Too cold and icy for thousands of planes to fly. Too cool for school, literally.

And the dangerous freeze is headed east. We're tracking it all.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Danger on the runway. Two planes skid off airport runways over the weekend and then in Aspen, a tragic accident as a private plane crashes. One person is killed. Two survive as passengers, including celebrities watch in horror.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Horror on the 20th floor. A fire breaks out in a high rise, killing one. Dozens of other residents scramble to safety. One family joins us live with their harrowing ordeal.

CUOMO: Your NEW DAY continues right now.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.

BOLDUAN: Good morning and welcome back to NEW DAY. It's Monday, January 6, 2014, 8:00 in the East. The big story unfolding at this hour the kind of cold weather that can be deadly. A polar vortex, as it's known, packing a record shattering temperatures with wind chills as low as 60 below, targeting 140 million Americans right now.

Parts of the country experiencing conditions that haven't been seen in more than two decades. Just look at this map. Negative 54 in Duluth. Negative 34 in Madison. And it's so cold and snowy in Indianapolis, it is illegal to drive today.

CNN has a team including, meteorologist Indra Petersons covering this dangerous storm system like no other network. Up first for us, George Howell live from frigid Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Good morning, George.


So, Kate, it is colder here in Green Bay than it is in Siberia. That's how cold it is this morning. For fans here who were at Lambeau Field for that game and tailgaters, we see those bottles of water and beer, they had to deal with frozen water and beer.

But the other thing to illustrate how cold it is, you pour water out there and it nearly freezes on contact and temperature continues to drop.


HOWELL (voice-over): Brutally cold arctic air is spreading a deep freeze over half the country. The frigid blast forcing schools and government offices to close from the Deep South to the North East.

MAYOR GREG BALLARD, INDIANAPOLIS: The temperatures that we're talking about are deadly. This is a combination that is unlike anything we've seen in a long, long time.

HOWELL: Nearly 140 million people will experience wind chill temperatures of zero degrees or below by Wednesday, temperatures the country hasn't seen in decades. In fact, Chicago, St. Louis and Atlanta are all colder than Anchorage, Alaska.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their conditions are very bad. Roads are really slippery.

HOWELL: At Sunday's Green Bay Packers game against the 49ers --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if you can be ready for this kind of cold.

HOWELL: Temperatures felt like a frigid 11 degrees below zero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Under armor, two hoodies, a coat, ski goggles, I got it all.

HOWELL: It's not just the plummeting temperatures. A massive snow storm battering the Midwest dumped up to 16 inches of snow in St. Louis. The iconic St. Louis Arch barely visible under the onslaught of snow.

MAYOR FRANCIS SLAY, ST. LOUIS: This is a dangerous storm. Driving conditions range from difficult to impassable.

HOWELL: In Illinois, the entire basketball team from Southern Illinois University got stranded in the snow. Returning home from a game, their bus caught in the powerful winter storm. The team was stuck on the interstate for six hours before a tow truck was able to dig them out.

But there is relief in sight. The sub-zero temperatures and snow will virtually be gone by Wednesday.


HOWELL: So, there's a reason we did that little experiment, just to show. I mean, you got a good sheet of ice here. It's so cold in the air and on the ground that this stuff freezes quickly.

The temperature is low, obviously. But it's about the wind chill as well. As the wind chill drops it feels colder than it actually is. There's a wind chill warning in this area already. And officials are warning people to stay indoors, to limit your exposure.

In fact when we do these live reports I come right out and then I go right back in because you don't want to be out here too long. The concern, guys is frostbite and the best you can do is wear layers and try to limit your time outside.

CUOMO: George, amazing how fast that water froze just during your time of your package there and I saw you switched to the CNN jacket because CNN is the warmest name in news. So you had to upgrade from whatever else you had on.

HOWELL: It is the warmest news, nice and red. So, you could see me back there.

CUOMO: All right. You're looking good, George. Thanks for doing it. Stay warm. We'll check in with you a little bit later on. And, obviously, the questions for all of us is how cold will it get, how long can we expect to stay in this deep freeze?

We're lucky to have somebody who's tracking the answers, meteorologist Indra Peterson.

What do we see?

INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We're definitely looking at the worst time period this morning. We're at the dangerous zone of negative 40 and negative 65 degrees. Hence, the particularly dangerous situation for portions of Minnesota, also in through South Dakota.

I mean, again, look at these temperatures. Imagine kids going back to school in Madison, Wisconsin, this morning and they are talking about those temperatures that are negative 40 below, going back to class. Minneapolis negative 44. Duluth negative 55 degrees. You can see the dang (ph) there are. Keep in mind visibility for many of these areas with recent snowfall winds picking up that snow blowing I want around, a lot of places seeing visibility less than a quarter of a mile.

Also, take a look at the temperatures. This is abnormal, yes, even for Minnesota. This is 40 degrees below normal for them. Even in towards St. Louis, 37 degrees below normal. Their high today only into the single digits at 3 degrees going to the Southeast started out the morning with some sleet.

Think about that. Out towards Atlanta today, and their high only 26 degrees.

Now, if you're in the Northeast, you're going it felt good today. Yes, sure, did, 54 degrees. That's the temperature right now. But it's thanks to the warm front. Look at the cold air. This cold arctic air is moving in.

So, by tomorrow morning we're talking about the rain moving out. Anything else less on the ground. Keep in mind temperatures 60 degrees cooler. Tomorrow morning, we're talking about negative wind chill anywhere from 10 to 15 degrees in New York City area, pretty impressive. I mean, down to negative 27 degrees tomorrow morning.

But if you have any shoveling, goes, I don't have to do that, I live in an apartment. You might want to do it tonight. That's going to freeze over by night.

BOLDUAN: And you do not want to be out shoveling in those temperatures. That's pressure.

PETERSONS: Absolutely not. Thanks, Indra.

BOLDUAN: All right. We're talking about shoveling when you're trying to shovel out. But a lot of travel problems. Even more flights canceled because of the harsh weather. This morning, about 2900 flights now called off because of the ice and snow, creating dangerous conditions for the planes and runways at airports around the U.S.

And even when flights get moving once again, airlines will have to play catch up for several days now to make up for thousands of canceled flights from this past weekend.

Alexandra Field is at JFK Airport this morning where we've been talking this morning, Alexandra. A plane went skidding off a runway after it had landed safely at JFK.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. One thing after another for air travelers, Kate. You can see it's windy and rainy and foggy here in New York City. That's compounding problems. The real issue is the storm in Chicago that's causing major delays.

A ripple effect is being found across the country and some passengers have now been stranded at airports since Friday.


FIELD (voice-over): Hundreds of stranded passengers camped in airports over the weekend hoping to get moving again by this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've missed a whole week's work. I need to adjust to the time back in Millburn.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to go home.

FIELD: But the blizzard conditions and icy temps slamming the Midwest and Northeast are keeping airlines from getting back up to speed.

DANIEL BAKER, CEO OF FLIGHTAWARE.COM: Now we have the storm hitting Chicago that is causing up over 50 percent of flights to be canceled to or from Chicago O'Hare. So travelers all across the country are being impacted by this.

FIELD: A scary moment at O'Hare on Saturday when a plane slipped after its wheel slid off of the tarmac. None of the 145 passengers were hurt. An icy runway at JFK Airport in New York caused this Delta plane to skid into a snow bank. Crews had to tow the plane with passengers on board back to the gate.

No one was hurt. Experts say the storm will continue to affect air travelers are warning that it could take several days for airlines to get operations back into the full swing of things.

BAKER: Not only do they need to get the airplanes in the right place, but almost more importantly, they need to get the crew in the right place.

FIELD: According to JetBlue, it's not just weather. The airline's blog points to new pilot rest rules designed to avoid pilot fatigue resulting in they say in fewer JetBlue flights.

The airline advises it will take days not hours to finally get people where they are going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are going to miss two days of a cruise now and I've been standing there for four hours.

FIELD: Once all those canceled flights do return to the skies, experts say airlines will be faced with a lot of displaced passengers and a limited number of seats.


FIELD: And a quick reminder that these cancellation numbers are quickly rising. At about 5:00 this morning, 2,300 flights have been canceled, three hours later that number is up to 2,900. So, if you still have travel plans today be certain to keep checking your flights. Again, they are adding cancellations all day long, Chris.

CUOMO: To be expected. Alexandra, thanks for being out in the field for us. Appreciate it.

All right. A troubling question for you, but we got to ask it, is Iraq sliding back into instability and what will the U.S. do about it?

Secretary of Sate John Kerry says the United States will support Iraq in its renewed fight with al Qaeda, but that does not include sending troops back in.

This declaration comes as clashes with militants threaten Iraq's control over the Anbar province, a very important area. That's where the bloodiest battles of the Iraq war happened.

Joining us now, CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

Christiane, happy New Year to you. Great to have you on the show.

Let's start with the dangerous suggestion. OK? To American ears when they hear what's going on they say oh, no, all this blood, all this treasure and now the situation has feared is going right back where it was.

Legitimate concern?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is actually a legitimate concern, of course, precisely because of that reason that America did spend so much blood and treasure in Iraq -- obviously, an incredibly unpopular war that the Obama administration is trying to dig out of and did by pulling all its troops out.

However, that has been a cause of the inability to stabilize Iraq and we've seen a massive rise in sectarian violence. Also in the sort of car bombings we used to see, IEDs, lots of people have been killed -- the highest number of deaths last year than at the height of the civil war in the mid-2000s.

So, this is a very, very traumatic situation. The U.S. as you mentioned Secretary Kerry has been in the Middle East. He has promised to help but not to send any more soldiers or any boots on the ground.

So, what does that help mean? They hope to get Iraq helicopters and all sorts of weaponry to be able to push back this fight. If you remember, Fallujah, Ramadi, the Anbar province, those were the really bad olds of the Iraq war. And it was only the U.S. surge and the corporation with Sunni tribes people that pushed that back and stabilized it.

And now, you've got a very bad political situation in Iraq where the Sunnis feel completely isolated and alienated by the U.S. supported Shiite-led government. And that is adding to this problem.

CUOMO: I remember, Christine, early coverage of the war talking with you and how, what the strategy was at the time and you saying, you know, temporary things are not sustainable in this type of environment here, that control will be fleeting and sure enough that's what we're seeing right now.

When you mention the politic, Senator John McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham say to the administration this is what you get for pulling out. Now, is that fair? Nouri al-Maliki said we don't want you any more. This was a war that wasn't started by this administration.

Is that the right place to place blame?

AMANPOUR: Well, look, you know, yes and no. You're right, it was President Bush's war and one that was eventually stabilized to an extent by this idea of a surge back in 2007, along with General Petraeus. And that did calm things down for a period of time.

But, of course, President Obama came into office pledging to end this very unpopular war. He opposed it during the presidential campaign. You remember that very well. Iraq has had a terrible bitter after taste and has been the result and the consequence of not wanting to do other things around the world.

So, with the U.S. sort of turning inward and being more insular under this administration, you do have consequences out in the rest of the world. And Iraq is one of those consequences, also the negative effect of the Maliki government, the inability to bring the Sunnis into a power sharing and to feel part of the situation that's also a real problem.

But one of the major problems and this is a consensus view is that by letting Syria fester and allowing the resurgence of al Qaeda and such jihadists and militants not just in Syria but then to affect what's happening in Iraq and elsewhere in the region, that is another major problem and it's going to be a problem throughout 2013 -- 2014, sorry.

CUOMO: Quick last point. Unfortunately the same thing in '13 is going on in '14. So, you know, it's interesting to conflate the two because we might as well theoretically.

Let me ask you this as a final point -- do you believe, can you point to an example where going in the way U.S. did in Iraq, the way people are suggesting they should go into Syria, that that wound up being effective in creating permanent calm in the situation?

AMANPOUR: Well, the two are different. Nobody suggested boots on the ground in Syria.

But the fact of the matter is it's one thing to win the war as the U.S. did in 2003 in Iraq. It's another thing to win the peace. That takes a lot longer and it's vital once you committed yourself, it's vital to do that in a proper way.

On the other hand, you have public opinion in the U.S. They did not want to stay in Iraq, and we're seeing the results of that right now.

CUOMO: Christiane, thank you very much for the perspective. This is a conversation we will have many times. And if things keep going the way, we may be having it standing next to each other in one of these two countries, but thank you for joining us this morning.

AMANPOUR: Thanks, Chris.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Taking a look at your other headlines at this hour, quarter after the hour, new this morning.


PEREIRA (voice-over): It is back to work for the Senate, and on the to-do list, a three-month extension of unemployment benefits. A procedural vote is scheduled for this afternoon on a bill to revive the benefits for the long term unemployed. An estimated 1.3 million Americans lost those just before New Year's when that program expired.

Breaking overnight, Liz Cheney dropping out of the Wyoming Senate primary. You saw it first on CNN. The oldest daughter of former vice president, Dick Cheney, abandoning her bid to unseat Republican senator, Mike Enzi, after a rough campaign that included a very public dispute with her sister over same-sex marriage.

Cheney just released this statement saying, quote, "Serious health issues have recently risen in our family, and under the circumstances, I have decided to discontinue my campaign.

More speculation this morning about a possible Hillary Clinton run for president in 2016. A Super PAC said to be helping lay the ground work for a possible run has now rented the e-mail list compiled by Clinton's 2008 campaign and it sent out an e-mail on Sunday offering free "I'm ready for Hilary" bumper stickers. The former secretary of state publicly said she'll make a decision about running sometime this year.

To the eastern edge of South Carolina, that's where a missing woman's family and a team of volunteers have set up around the clock effort looking for tips in her disappearance. Twenty-year-old Heather Elvis (ph) vanished almost three weeks ago. Her car was found in a rural area a few days later. Her father and sister are making personal appeals for help Sunday saying no tip is too small to help find Heather.

I want to show you some dramatic video from the U.K. as a cliff crumbles into rough -- look at that. It cell phone videoed. You can hear people screaming as parts of the cliff fell away. It is believed that no one was injured, but obviously, the public has been urged to stay away from that area and specifically the East Sussex Coast.


PEREIRA (on-camera): Incredible when you see that crumble right before your eyes.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: That's a huge part of that cliff.

PEREIRA: Gigantic. Yes.



BOLDUAN: Thanks, Michaela.

PEREIRA: No problem.

BOLDUAN: Coming up next on NEW DAY, a deadly plane crash in Aspen, Colorado. The pilot circled three times before trying to make a landing and crashing. Now, we have new details about what may have gone tragically wrong.

CUOMO: The flu is spreading and proving deadly. Now, you've heard this before, but the groups at risk have changed and we'll tell you if you're in one of them.


BOLDUAN: Welcome back to NEW DAY. New this morning, federal investigators are on the scene of a fiery plane crash that killed one person and injured two others in Aspen, Colorado yesterday. Officials say the co-pilot lost his life as the plane flipped over upon landing. We've new details now about what could have caused it all. CNN's Ana Cabrera is live in Denver with more on this story. So, what more are we learning now, Ana?

ANA CABRERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Kate. We don't know the exact cause of the crash just yet, but we do know that pilot had missed the previous approach to land because of a very strong tailwind. Now, just minutes later, witnesses say the plane came into land and burst to the flames.


CABRERA (voice-over): A horrific scene on the runway in Aspen, Colorado. Still photographs show the charred fuselage of a private jet that crashed Sunday afternoon near the Aspen ski area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm driving down the road and I see that big plume of black smoke and when come around the bend and that plane is flipped over.

CABRERA: Three people were on board the Bombardier Challenger 600. All three were pilots heading to Aspen from Mexico after making a stop in Tucson, Arizona. According to the plane tracking website, Flight Aware, the plane circled three times before trying to land.

STEVE COWELL, PILOT AVIATION SAFETY CONSULTANT: These pilots were attempting to land at a high altitude mountainous terrain airport with a tailwind which is a very, very challenging.

CABRERA: Radio communications from air traffic control references difficult conditions. A pilot aborts one landing because of the wind.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Missed approach. N115WF, 33 knots of tailwind.

CABRERA: Minutes later, the plane crashed, flipping upside down on impact. Country singer, Leann Rimes Cibrian witnessed the crash and tweeted, "So sad, horrible plane crash we just saw at the Aspen Airport." Another witness, comedian, Kevin Nealon, tweeted, "Horrible plane crash here at Aspen Airport. Exploded into flames as it was landing. Fire truck and ambulances were on the scene within minutes."

But it was too late to save everyone. Fifty-four-year-old Sergio Emilio Carranza Brabata died at the scene from blunt force trauma. The other pilot and co-pilot were rushed to the hospital with moderate to severe injuries. Those two survivors will likely be key to the investigation as the NTSB tries to determine what went wrong.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CABRERA (on-camera): Now, the NTSB is also going to be looking specifically at the decision-making process of those pilots. They'll be looking at the weather conditions, the mechanical conditions, the runway conditions as they investigate. And because this is a deadly crash, we're told, it could take several months up to a year before this investigation is complete -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much.

We have new developments this morning. Nearly half the country is seeing widespread flu infections and the spread this year is especially quick. In just one week, reports of heavily flu activity jumped from 10 states to 25. At high risk, we see the usual, the elderly. But this year, there's growing concern for people under 65 and that's why we want to talk to you about it this morning.

Senior medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, tells us why this is happening, why this changing grouping, down in the CNN Center. Thanks for being with us, Elizabeth. What's new?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, what we know is that flu season usually tends to peak around this time of year and if you think, well, I don't need to worry, that's really something that affects the elderly, well, you should think again.



COHEN (voice-over): In just one week, the number of states reporting widespread flu has more than doubled from ten states to 25. Among the victims of the flu so far this season, 25-year-old Ann Phillips Twan (ph) from South Bend, Indiana who passed away on Christmas eve and five-year-old Ryan Burgess (ph) who died in Portland, Oregon.

DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, DIRECTOR, CDC: We're seeing a lot of illness in young adults who may lack immunity --

COHEN: Young people died from the flu every year, but this year, it could turn out to be particularly bad because the main flu strain out there is H1N1 that used to be called swine flu and it disproportionately affects people under 65. But there is good news.

FRIEDEN: So far, the main strain we're seeing is H1N1. Fortunately, that strain is well covered by every one of the flu vaccines out there.

COHEN: That's right. H1N1 is in the flu shot and it's not too late to get one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine for nearly everyone. It does take two weeks for the shot to build up immunity. So, in the meantime, it's especially important to remember to wash your hands.


CUOMO: All right. Hand washing always Elizabeth, always, always whether you have the flu or not. But help me out as a parent with young kids. We took them. They got their flu vaccine. You know, they up the nose which makes it much easier for them, but they may need a second? Tell me about this.

COHEN (on-camera): Right, Chris. So, if your child is eight years old or younger and your child has never had a flu vaccine before, this is the first one, then they will need a second dose. Now, if your child is eight years old and younger and this is not their first, if they've had it before, they might still need a second dose. You have to talk to your doctor. It depends how many times they've been vaccinated before or what years, that sort of thing.

CUOMO: All right. We know everybody is running around. You're getting ready for your day. If you're an adult, you get your one shot and you're done. If you have kids like I do and they're under eight, if they haven't gotten a vaccine before, then they need a double dose. If they have and they get one, talk to your doctor, of course. Elizabeth Cohen, did I get it right?

COHEN: You did. You did. If they've already had one before, you may still need a second dose. You have to figure that out.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you very much --

COHEN: So, very good.

CUOMO: Appreciate it.


CUOMO: I did well. I got a vaccination against dumbness today.


BOLDUAN: Thanks, Elizabeth.

We're going to take a break here on NEW DAY, but coming up next, a high rise horror as a fire broke out 20 stories up. One resident was killed trying to escape to smoking flames. One family who did make it out will be joining us live with their harrowing ordeal.