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THE SITUATION ROOM

Southern U.S. Pounded by Winter Storm; Interview with Pat McCrory; Traffic Stops, Cars Abandoned In North Carolina; North Carolina Governor Warns Citizens To Stay Off the Roads; State of Emergency Across Southeast; Duke University Cancelled Classes

Aired February 12, 2014 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Jake, thanks very much.

We're continuing to follow the breaking news -- a deadly weather emergency. Much of the Southeast frozen shut. Hundreds of thousands of people have no power. They are in the cold, getting ready for the dark. Millions more are about to get hammered farther north.

And a new snow jam is unfolding, with cars stopped and abandoned. Stand by for firsthand accounts of people stuck desperate to get home, including a pregnant woman in her car with a small child.

Is North Carolina making the same mistakes as Georgia did just a couple of weeks ago?

Some tough questions for the state's governor. He's standing by to join us live.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're watching the deadly bombardment of ice and snow that's overwhelming the southern half of the country right now and heading toward the Northeast, as well. In the bull's eye this hour, North Carolina. Heavy snow blanketing palm trees. More than a foot may fall. Traffic screeching to a haul on some major highways. Roads in the Raleigh area especially are very, very difficult. People are simply abandoning their cars and they're walking.

Also getting hit hard right now, Central Georgia, where a glaze of ice up to one inch thick is bringing down trees and power lines. At least five deaths across the region already are being blamed on the weather and nearly half a million customers have already lost electricity.

More than 80 million people across the Southeast are in the grip of this storm. Millions more farther north, they are now threatened.

Our correspondents are in a position to bring you up to the minute coverage of this potentially catastrophic weather situation.

Let's begin this hour with our severe weather expert, Chad Myers -- Chad, tell us what we know right now.

CHAD MYERS, ATS METEOROLOGIST: What we know about Raleigh is that the snow started at the exact wrong time, the same time it started in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago. Everybody was out. They thought they could get a couple more things done. It snowed and the roads stopped. That's what's going on right there in Raleigh. I'll show you the traffic in just a second.

It is now snowing up in Richmond and it will soon be snowing in DC. It is still icing all across the Carolinas. It is still icing in Atlanta. At least an inch of glaze of sleet piling up there in Atlanta, trees coming down. You know, for a while, we were pushing a half a million people without power across the area here.

This is what the Raleigh/Durham area looks like and I will show you this. This is Sigalert.com, one of my favorite graphics here. This is Raleigh. All the roads are red, which means less than 10 miles per hour.

Back up toward Durham, red. I-85 out of Durham, red, less than five miles per hour. And that road right there, that's I-95, And that's red in both directions, to the east there of Raleigh. This is going to be a night a lot like the people had in Atlanta, because now they're stuck. It's getting cold. Cars aren't going to move. You get one fender bender in front of you and that stops everything for hours.

The same type of thing happened here. People slept in Home Depots and waffle houses and anywhere they could find shelter. That's going to happen tonight in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And then it's moving toward the Northeast. And there's potentially huge problems here in Washington, Philadelphia, New York City.

MYERS: That's absolutely correct. The snow is on its way. I do believe it's going to be a tricky forecast. And you're going to have to watch your local area to figure out where you live.

I-95 is going to be the cut off. If you're 100 miles east of there, it's going to be two inches of snow; 50 miles, four to six; right along, eight; to the west, 12. It's because there will be rain and sleet that mixes in. It will pack down your snow the closer you are to the coast. You'll only get snow the farther away you are from the coast. That's why it will be so much deeper in Reston, Virginia than it will be in Green Belt or into Bowie. And it will be so much deeper in Wayne, New Jersey than it will be along the Long Island Expressway.

It's a local forecast and it's right along that line, I-95. And it's coming tonight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, it's a very serious situation.

All right, don't go too far away, Chad. We'll come back to you.

Joining us on the phone right now is Gabrielle Harte. She's in Raleigh, North Carolina.

And you had a pretty dramatic, fearful experience, Gabrielle.

Tell our viewers what you went through.

GABRIELLE HARTE, RALEIGH RESIDENT: Well, I left work pretty soon after it started snowing, around 12:30, And it took me about an hour to make it a mile. So two hours later, I still hadn't moved. And I decided to go ahead and walk, because it's only another four miles left.

And once I made it to this hotel, I decided to walk inside, get warm, kind of call my family, let them know it's all right, and found out I had frostbite on my ankles.

And I'm kind of stranded now, but luckily, there's nice people here. There's a bunch of other people in the lobby, stranded as well.

BLITZER: How are you getting treated for that frostbite?

HARTE: Lucky for me, a team of nurses were also stranded. So they were happy to help out. People at the hotel were generous. They put out the breakfast food for everyone to eat. And they wrapped my ankles and I'm keeping them elevated.

BLITZER: When you got up this morning, Gabrielle, you went to work.

Didn't folks tell you this is going to be a terrible day, maybe just stay home, don't go to work, don't be on the roads?

HARTE: Yes. And I'm actually a student at N.C. State University. And they had off today starting at noon. And I was kind of hesitant to go, but figured I would leave as soon as it started then make it back in time. But once the snow came, in 45 minutes, everything was covered. Traffic was bumper to bumper. No one was moving.

BLITZER: So people obviously, they went to work this morning and they didn't realize how bad it was going to be. They thought it was not necessarily going to be that bad, North Carolina clearly not necessarily as ready as some Northern states for this kind of weather.

All right, stand by.

We're going to continue this conversation. Gabrielle Harte, good luck to you and good luck to everybody in North Carolina.

We're joined by another North Carolina woman right now who was forced, also, to abandon her car on a snowy highway.

Natalie Kotuby is joining us via Skype from Raleigh.

What happened to you, Natalie?

NATALIE KOTUBY, ABANDONED CAR ON NORTH CAROLINA HIGHWAY: Well, I left work at about 1:00, probably only 10 minutes after it had started snowing. And I thought I would be good to go. My commute is only about 2.3 miles, so I thought I had a little more time to get home than I did.

I probably made it about a half mile, not even, and decided to just abandon my car and walk two miles home.

BLITZER: And how did -- how was that walk?

What was going on?

KOTUBY: Well, there were cars all over the sides of the road. They were in the medians. A lot of people had abandoned their cars. I probably passed about 20 of them. People were sliding all over the place. And I just don't think we were quite as prepared as we should have been.

BLITZER: That must have been a difficult decision, to leave the relative warmth of your car and start walking and just leave the car on the highway, right?

KOTUBY: Right. And I had debated it quite a while. I had called some friends to see what they thought I should do. And I had a couple of other friends that had abandoned their cars, as well. So, hopefully, they're still there and in one piece when we get back.

BLITZER: Let's hope.

This is video we're showing our viewers. Natalie, this is video that you, yourself, shot with your smartphone, showing a lot of abandoned cars are you -- I hope you had boots on when you were walking through that snow, right?

KOTUBY: I did. Thankfully, I still had some boots in my car from my trip to Pennsylvania over Christmas, so I didn't have to walk in my four inch stilettos home.

BLITZER: You grew up in Western Pennsylvania, so you're used to snow.

Were you surprised at what was going on in North Carolina today?

You've been there for a while.

How unique was this, shall we say?

KOTUBY: North Carolina snow is very different from Western Pennsylvania snow. We're not as equipped here for it. And they had brined the roads a couple of days ago, but then it rained and so it washed it all away.

And typically, in Pennsylvania, they salt the roads really well prior. But I think the problem in Raleigh is that the snow melts so quickly and then refreezes so quickly, that instead of just snow, it's ice. And people can't move in that.

BLITZER: Were you told this morning, don't go to work, stay home, by local authorities on the radio or television? KOTUBY: I hadn't seen it. I had watched the news before I left to see what the roads would be like and they told us the snow would probably hit between 12:00 and 2:00. So I figured I only live, you know, two miles away from where I work, so once it starts I'll go ahead and leave. But in that 10 minute time span, I ended up getting stuck.

BLITZER: Are you OK right now, Natalie?

How are you doing?

KOTUBY: Great. We're warm, nice and toasty warm. I'm glad to be home and safe.

BLITZER: Yes. We're glad you're home and safe, as well.

Natalie Kotuby, thanks very much.

Coming up, I'll ask North Carolina's governor about the gridlock on the roads right now and should the state have been more prepared for the situation in North Carolina, given the recent traffic nightmare in Georgia?

And she's late in pregnancy. She's been stuck in her car for hours. She'll share her story with us when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're continuing to follow the breaking news. A new traffic nightmare unfolding right now, as that deadly winter snow and ice storm moves east. Hundreds of cars have been stuck or abandoned on major highways and roads in North Carolina. The state's governor, Pat McCrory, is joining us now on the phone.

Governor, I know you got a lot going on right now. We just spoke to two young women who had to abandon their cars. They went to work this morning. All of a sudden, it started to snow and they were potentially in very bad shape. Were folks not warned this morning maybe stay home today, don't go to work?

GOV. PAT MCCRORY, (R) NORTH CAROLINA (on the phone): We had a lot of warnings all day yesterday and even this morning. This is a 2,000- mile storm across the state from Nags Head all the way beyond to Asheville, North Carolina, going through three or four major metropolitan areas from Raleigh-Durham to Greensboro, Winston-Salem, to Charlotte, to Asheville.

And each part of the state is having unique issues. Some are more ice, some are more snow, and we did a good job with the roads and putting materials on the roads. But it only takes one or two accidents in metropolitan areas to block a major highway like I-85 or I-40 or I-77, all which intersect in our state. So, we are dealing with abandoned cars in certain areas, namely the Raleigh-Durham, Greensboro, and Charlotte areas.

And we've got a plan to not only clear the abandoned cars for tonight but also help the people get out of them and deal with it. And, we're encouraging people not to even go to Duke/Carolina game tonight. I'm not going and I encourage other people not to go. Watch it on TV. Our major concern is public safety and the health and safety.

We've had two fatalities in the last 24 hours. This actually started 16 hours ago in the Fayetteville area in the mountains area and it continues to spread. We have almost three different weather patterns within our state that we're dealing with it this --

BLITZER: I know it's a big basketball game tonight, Duke and North Carolina. But if it's dangerous for folks to leave their homes and drive or go to watch the game, why don't they just postpone it, do it another night?

MCCRORY: I'm encouraging no one go to the game. I don't make the call to postpone the ball game, but if it's just the players and the referees there, that's fine with me. But I'm encouraging people not to go to the game, unless, they're right next door to the Dean Smith Center at the campus where student can walk to the game.

BLITZER: So, who makes that decision?

MCCRORY: I think the athletic director makes that decision. And, you know, Duke and Carolina are right next door to each other. So, I assume that the players are already at the event this morning. But, you know, that's the lowest of my priority right now is an athletic event. My priority is to keep people safe and our major concern tonight is power outages because of the ice and electric wires and also over trees.

And so, we're dealing with both road issues and electric power issues tonight, and we're expecting another storm, a continuation of storm especially in the Greensboro -- Winston-Salem area tomorrow. And, we're going to have tough road conditions. But once we get through this initial shower of some people who did wait too long to get home, once we get that cleared, hopefully in the next several hours, things will calm down and people will just stay at home, be safe, and take care of each other.

BLITZER: I think you're right about the power shortages because I -- what really worries me, governor, and I'm sure it does you as well as elderly folks who are stuck in their homes, it's about to get dark in North Carolina right now, if they lose electricity, they lose their power, they're home alone, that can be terrifying, it can be very dangerous.

So, here's the question, is the National Guard, have you mobilized the National Guard to start rescuing people, FEMA, the federal authorities, are they being brought in?

MCCRORY: I'm with the state guard as we speak right now. So, we're on call to make any things necessary. We have apps that people to get to. We have lines. The dilemma in any natural emergency is communications and access, and that's the dilemma with power going out and people not knowing what's going on. And, as I've learned during my 14 years as mayor in charlotte from 1995 to 2013, the biggest concern is communications if the power starts going out and people not knowing what's going on and how we reach the consumer and our citizens. Right now, we've got people traveling up and down the highways in special four-wheel vehicles to make any rescues that we need to make, and more than anything else, we're just encouraging people to be smart and don't put their stupid hat on during the next 48 hours.

BLITZER: How many people are without power right now?

MCCRORY: Actually, the power sources are quite limited at this point in time. It's literally just in the several thousand. But we anticipate power outages as the night proceeds and limbs -- because we're expecting more icing over the night. This is a very unique storm for North Carolina. It's the second one in two weeks. And we have not had this type of storm covering such, you know, a large area of our state in decades.

So, it's a strain on supplies and we're even guessing on logistics, moving equipment from the east to the west, back to the east, to the piedmont areas of the state. So, our highway patrol, our emergency personnel, our guard are all working extremely well together. And we have 100 county and we're on phone calls about every 45 minutes to an hour right now getting updates and we're moving supplies literally by the hour to where the areas getting hit the most.

And this weather forecast is very hard to predict because of where the line is between freezing rain and snow. And actually, it's the freezing rain that causes us the most concern.

BLITZER: A couple weeks ago, I spoke with your colleague, Nathan Deal, the governor of Georgia. He was severely criticized because people were stuck in their cars for hours and hours and hours in the Atlanta area as you well remember. I spoke with him earlier today. He said he thinks they did learn the lessons of what happened in Georgia a couple weeks ago.

Here's the question for you, governor. Have you learned those lessons from what happened in Georgia and they did apply to North Carolina? Because, frankly, it looks like some of these pictures that we're seeing now, these live pictures we're showing our viewers. We saw the same pictures of Georgia a couple of weeks ago.

MCCRORY: Well, we have the same storm that Georgia had. So, we were very pleased that we did right on declaring emergency declaration far in advance two weeks ago and we did it again very early this year -- I mean this storm. And, the difference is probably, on this storm, it's hitting even a wider spectrum of three or four different metropolitan areas, not just one metropolitan area, as in Atlanta, but we literally have Charlotte, Greensboro, High Point (ph), Winston, then the Durham Triangle area in Asheville.

So, we're talking four different major problem areas. This is the -- most people don't realize North Carolina is the tenth largest populous state in the nation and this is over a 2,400 to 3,000-mile area. And, so, we've got quite a bit of challenges but my emergency personnel are doing a very good job.

But right now, a few people did not follow our instructions and it only takes one or two cars to block a major interstate like 85 or 40 or 77 and we're dealing with it as we speak, Wolf. So, we just ask people to be safe and take care of their neighbor.

BLITZER: Let me ask you about this statement that was just put out by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the communications supervisor, a guy named Steve Abbott. He's saying this, and I'll read it to our viewers. I just got the statement because anxious to get your reaction, governor.

"There are some people," this is a quote, "abandoning their cars. We are urging them not to. It is very dangerous for them to be on foot with cars sliding near them and it blocks access for our sand trucks and plows and causes gridlock."

He then goes on to say, "If you abandon your car and they don't want you to, your car will be instantly towed and the car's owner will be left to track down their car and pay for the towing." Is that OK for you?

MCCRORY: We want people to stay in their car and let us help them and get to them instead of them getting out of their cars and risking their life. We'd prefer to have the people stay in their car, unless, they're in some sort of immediate danger. But, we want them to stay in their car, don't abandon their car, unless, there are certain elements that are requiring them to get out in very, very cold weather.

We have a system that we've set up where we can come rescue those individuals in their cars and that's our incentive at this point in time is to help the people get out of their car and then unblock the traffic. The dilemma is once they abandon their car, they block all the traffic, including emergency operation vehicles, and they're putting other people at risk on these major highways and thoroughfares.

These are I-95. These are the major thoroughfares crossing both the whole eastern coast and east to west. So, this is traffic going -- traffic and other types of traffic coming from Florida all the way up the coast which we're trying to clear as quick as possible.

BLITZER: But I just want to clarify this one sensitive point because I spoke to two young women who did abandon their cars on these highways in North Carolina just a little while ago and walked, one to a hotel not that far away but she did get frostbite. Fortunately, there were some nurses there to take care of her.

Another managed to get home. It says here that these people, if their cars are towed, they will have to pay for the towing. Will these two young women have to pay for their cars being towed?

MCCRORY: Well, most likely. If they don't pay it, someone else has to pay for it. We care for these two women and we would have preferred they stay in their cars so we could help them not get frostbites because the outside elements are so bad. We actually have people that will come pick people up at this point in time.

We're also working with hospitals because we need public safety personnel to get to the hospitals and other things, you know, emergency workers who are helping people in our hospitals too. And we've got a system set up in each -- 100 counties (INAUDIBLE) workers get to the hospitals also.

BLITZER: Do you have any idea how much it's going to cost these young women and others who've abandoned their cars --

MCCRORY: I don't know. The state has spent probably over $30 million during the last two weeks on clearing and helping on the sideways. Right now, money is not a cause for me. Major issue is saving lives, not dealing with towing costs.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCRORY: -- to save lives right now, Wolf.

BLITZER: What if people run out of gas and their engines stop running. Should they still stay in their cars or try to get away?

MCCRORY: In most cases, again, you've got to use some common sense. If it's dangerous to walk or there's potential they'll get hit by traffic, again, we don't want them to get in their car, especially if they don't fill up their tank. You know, these are the kind of things we try to warn people yesterday regarding not getting in their cars and if they do make sure they have all the safety procedures intact including enough fuel in their car.

But we're here to help people and save their lives and we're trying to encourage other people to be smart. And right now, the smartest thing to do is don't get on the highway. We're here to help you. And we've already had two fatalities and we don't want to see anymore.

BLITZER: And the smartest thing is if you're home, don't go outside. This is not a time to be on roads.

MCCRORY: Even if you're at work. If you're in a safe, warm place, stay in your safe, warm place at this point in time. And your quality of life might be a little different. You won't be able to get to other quality of life issues. Our main issue right now is protecting the life and safety of our citizens. The next 48 hours, that's our major goal at this point in time, not have any more loss of life. And we had several people lose their lives two weeks ago during the last storm due to accidents.

What's ironic is during the accidents, it's usually the passenger that is killed and often we also have people not wearing their seat belts. But right now, we -- my other concern is our emergency officials. If people stay home and stay off the roads, I don't want to put my emergency officials in jeopardy either.

We had a highway patrol officer get hit by -- their car got hit by another car while helping another car last night and he's still in the hospital tonight. So, my prayers are with one of my highway patrol officers at this point in time just trying to rescue people as we speak.

BLITZER: Governor, good luck to you. Good luck to everyone in North Carolina right now. In fact, good luck to everyone in the south. This weather situation is pretty awful.

MCCRORY: Yes. It's quite a unique storm for the southeast. Our big dilemma is when we get a storm like this, the temperatures right there at freezing which causes us all great strains (ph). But North Carolina and South Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia.

BLITZER: And it's heading towards Washington, Philadelphia, and New York City even as we speak.

MCCRORY: I wish all my governors the best.

BLITZER: Yes. I wish them all the best, too.

MCCRORY: And the people.

BLITZER: I wish all the folks the best as well. Governor, thanks very much. Good luck.

MCCRORY: Thanks, Wolf. Take care now.

BLITZER: Coming up, we're going to have much more on the breaking news coverage. We're going to hear from a pregnant woman. She has been stuck in her car. She's got a young child in that massive traffic gridlock in North Carolina. Stand by. We'll also check in on the road conditions in Atlanta after the snow-jammed debacle of a couple weeks ago. Were lessons learned?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We're continuing to follow the breaking news out of the South. There's a huge, huge snow storm, ice storm, that's moving from the South toward the Northeast right now, and in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. It's moving all the way through North Carolina. There are some pretty, pretty disastrous stories that we've been hearing throughout the South right now.

But here in the Mid-Atlantic States, Washington, DC, up in the Northeast, get ready, because it's heading your way.

Joining us on the phone right now is a woman who's stuck in North Carolina traffic.

Deanna Hunt is joining us on the phone.

Deanna, are you still in your car right now?

DEANNA HUNT, STUCK IN NORTH CAROLINA GRIDLOCK: I am, Wolf. I'm sitting in my car on a road called Fayetteville Street. And I'm probably, without traffic, without snow, about three minutes from my house. I've been sitting on this road for about 45 minutes. I left the Crabtree Valley area and what normally takes me about 22 minutes to get home, it's now four hours. So it has been quite an adventure.

BLITZER: So you're staying put.

Do you have enough gasoline in your car right now?

HUNT: Fortunately, I filled up today. You know, it was such a crazy thing. At 11:00, the governor came on. He told everyone to batten down the hatches. And I filled up my gas. I knew I going to an appointment at noon. I thought I would be back in plenty of time. I came out of my appointment at 1:20 and it was snowing with a vengeance. It was coming so fast.

And I think that's what really blind-sided everyone, is that it's just so fast, you know, that's the thing. It just came down so fast and so furious.

BLITZER: We're showing our viewers a picture that you sent us of the traffic that -- where you're stuck right now. You're so close, yet so far away from your destination.

The governor says stay in your car, don't abandon your vehicle.

If you do, it's going to be towed and you're going to have to pay for that towing.

So you're staying put inside your car.

HUNT: I am. Yes. I have seen several cars abandoned. And quite frankly, I think a lot of it are people that just completely spun out sideways. And, you know, either that or they ran out of gas.

So, you know, the great thing is, I'm seeing a lot of people come and help out, whether they have four wheelers or whether they're pushing cars. You know, that's that Southern hospitality. People are really trying to help out. But I know there's a danger in that.

So I wish I could say I was home in front of the fireplace with my dogs. But I probably am looking at, based on how fast I'm moving, which right now it is gridlock, probably another two hours.

BLITZER: Well, Deanna, didn't the authorities tell you this morning, don't leave your house, stay put, it's going to be dangerous later?

Didn't they all tell you that on the radio or on television, on all these news alerts?

HUNT: I saw the governor come on this morning around 10:30, And, you know, my impression was that I could get to where I was going and get back, like a lot of other people. And the fact that it came so fast, that's the thing. Like it's amazing how quickly you can get stuck. And all it takes is one accident and then it just starts backing up and it's the trickle-down effect.

So I was aware -- I was really under the impression that it would be closer toward the evening. But obviously, right on the nose, it started coming down at 1:00. And it hasn't stopped. Now it's sleeting, so that's the dangerous part.

You know, the one thing he said this morning was, do you remember the 2002 ice storm?

Well, be prepared for that. And I was here for that ice storm. So I was fully aware, but I started calling my friends that have recently moved here and told them to start preparing. Go get water, go get batteries, go get, you know, all of the necessary items. And here I am, ironically, stuck in it.

So the good news is Fayetteville Street is now moving. So I'm now no longer sitting in gridlock. I'm hoping, to be optimistic, to be home in an hour, you know. But it is. It's one of those things that -- it's a snow chaos. Someone just sent me a hash tag, snow chaos. And that's really the best way to describe it. It's a very unusual storm.

BLITZER: A very -- but you were told even yesterday, the forecasters were saying get ready for a major snowstorm, right?

HUNT: Yes. I didn't watch the news yesterday, I watched it this morning. And so I didn't -- I mean, obviously, we knew there was a huge front coming through, but you just never anticipate it coming as fast as it does. And it came in the middle of the day at lunchtime.

So it's just -- it's one of those freak things where, unfortunately, a lot of us have gotten stuck. And, you know, the DOT is trying to do their best to get people cleared out. It's the side roads where we're seeing most of the challenge, where people are abandoning their cars. That's where some of the gridlock is happening, so.

BLITZER: Are you seeing like emergency vehicles on the road?

Are you seeing trucks sanding or trying to clean up those highways, those side roads?

Are you seeing anything along those lines?

HUNT: Yes. Actually, a couple miles back, there was fire hydrants, for some reason, that were busted. And they were just bubbling out water. And it was almost immediate. I don't know how they were able to get through.

They were coming down the middle of the median to fix those -- the pipes that are busting. So I was impressed with that. Otherwise, there's a lot of yellow flashing lights ahead of me. I don't know specifically if there -- to me, I would imagine the fact that I lived in North Carolina 14 years, those are probably for the power lines that are getting ready to come down.

The ice that's setting in, it's starting to get dark here. It's 5:40 in the evening on the East Coast. We will probably wake up to a winter wonderland of ice. And those trees, when they get really heavy, they bend and they snap and they fall on the power lines. And that is usually where most of the injuries come into play. People start trying to take it upon themselves to remove trees and limbs off of downed power lines. And that's obviously very dangerous.

BLITZER: Do you have a plan in case you get home, it gets dark, you lose your power?

And you could lose power for the next few days.

HUNT: Oh, that's a huge reality. And we have a backup plan. It's kind of like the coconut wireless (ph). We know that we can go out to our cars and charge our phones. And lots of batteries. We have a gas stove, so we can cook. We'll be making some nice dinners, having some wine.

But we do have backup houses. And using that coconut waterway system (ph), we're going to crash each other houses and have snowed in parties with my network of friends.

So hopefully, we're not all going to be out of power.

BLITZER: You've got a good attitude.

Deanna Hunt, good luck to you.

Good luck to all the folks in North Carolina.

HUNT: Thanks so much.

BLITZER: Thank you very much for sharing your story with our viewers.

And we're going to continue to follow the breaking news out of the South.

We're going live next to a student at the side of the road where cars have been abandoned. The weather is treacherous right now. New information coming into THE SITUATION ROOM even as we speak.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: These are live pictures coming to us from Raleigh, North Carolina. There are a few cars out there, but it's very, very treacherous. This snow and ice storm moving from the south, through North Carolina right now, heading toward the Northeast -- Washington, New York City about to get hit with major, major snow and ice.

Chad Myers is at the CNN Severe Weather Center.

Walk us through what we know, the progress, shall we say, of the storm.

CHAD MYERS, ATS METEOROLOGIST: That street you just just showed us is probably the best one I've seen in Raleigh all day.

The progress. It is snowing in Richmond. It is snowing down almost to Fredericksburg, Petersburg, into DC, almost. So you're going -- this going on an overnight event for you.

So, DC, you probably don't run into the same type of event that Raleigh did. You had what Atlanta had. It snowed overnight here. It iced overnight here. People looked out and said I'm not going out.

So our streets are barren. There's nobody out there at all. And that's the good news, whereas Raleigh thought they had a chance, a little window, to do some things, and, clearly, that didn't happen.

Here you go, Wolf, right up I-95 right now, almost to DC, just to the southern suburbs. That's about La Plata right there.

Here's Raleigh. You're just about ready to switch over to ice on top of the snow that you already have.

And then Atlanta still icing here, although it is switching over to some snow right now. And that snow will just pile up on top of that. That's what you see here.

Here's Raleigh. I'm going to zoom into this, because this is really our top story.

This is that band of heavy snow that all of the people have been talking about that they got caught off guard. It came from Fayetteville. It came right up here, really almost up by 40, right into Raleigh, and when this band right there was just over Raleigh, it was about two inches of snow per hour. Couldn't keep up it with, couldn't get out of the way. That's how people got stuck in that area.

Now for you and for the rest of the northeast, how this all shapes up, as the storm continues to move to the northeast, it will be warm right along the coast. And so there may be a little bit of ice but there's certainly won't be snow buildup for Atlantic City, for Salisbury, Maryland, for the Delmarva, all the way down into Hampton Roads, no snow for you.

You may see it in the sky but it won't stick. The farther you get toward I-95 or west of I-95 the deeper that snow gets. And yes, that is purple. I go down here, that's a foot of snow or more, that's west of I-95, but that's not that far west of, say, Reston, that's almost down to Hanover County.

And all the way down here this would be Greensboro and then back down to Charlotte, which is right there. You're going to miss it but just in the mountains. That would be Asheville, that would also be into Greenville. Going to see some very heavy snowfall there on the backside of this developing storm.

BLITZER: I know there's been all sorts of travel problems as a result of this storm, flights canceled, delayed, certainly we've got pictures of traffic cameras all over the place showing really disastrous situations unfolding.

MYERS: Yes.

BLITZER: Take a look at this picture that we're showing our viewers right now from Raleigh, North Carolina. The pictures are -- this is Charlotte, North Carolina. These are live pictures coming in from traffic cameras. Fortunately not a whole lot of people on the street there. But other part -- there are plenty of abandoned cars.

It looks like, you know, some of the folks in North Carolina are going through today -- are going through today, Chad, what you guys in Atlanta went through two weeks ago.

MYERS: Absolutely the same scenario. Because the snow or the ice or whatever you want to call it, the precept, the frozen precept, started at the same time. About noon. Even though in the Raleigh-Durham area, schools were closed today, people still thought they could get out and do some things in the early part of the day and this is what Sigalert, traffic.com, what everybody looks like here, you can go to Google, you can see all these.

All of these red roads around Raleigh, here's Durham, here's toward Chapel Hill. This red road is I-95 and this is I-40 trying to come up from the shore.

This is truly a mess. This is 540. There's a crash here on the north side of 540. I'm looking at all these little traffic cameras. And you can do the same thing at home. There are cars going left, right, sideways, cars are all over. It is that slippery right now.

BLITZER: Air travel is becoming a real problem as well. We're going to have more on that part of the story coming up.

Chad, don't go too far away.

Much more of the breaking news. This snow and ice storm moving from the south towards the northeast. More live coverage right after this.

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BLITZER: The University of North Carolina just announced it's cancelling tonight's big game between Duke and North Carolina. Supposed to take place in Chapel Hill. You heard the governor of North Carolina tell us just a little while ago he wasn't going to go. He hoped no one would go. He was hoping they would cancel because it was too dangerous to get out on the roads and go see a big, big college basketball game.

Duke-North Carolina, that game has been canceled for tonight. Looking at pictures coming to us from North Carolina.

Let's go to the campus of Duke University in North Carolina right now.

Nick Magnuson, a junior, is joining us via Skype.

Nick, you're from the California, the San Francisco area. What you're seeing in North Carolina right now, clearly a lot different than what you're used to. What's it like?

NICK MAGNUSON, STUDENT AT DUKE UNIVERSITY: Yes, this is amazing. Before last week, I had never experienced a snow day. And now three or four inches on the ground, it's unbelievable.

BLITZER: Can you show us with your video, with your camera, your smartphone, over there what's going on around where you are?

MAGNUSON: Yes. So here's Duke University Road right here, as you can see, there's some parked cars, people just abandoned them. And then there's even downed stop signs. So this right here is Power View Road. If you go along it, you would be at Cameron Indoor.

BLITZER: I assume they've canceled all classes and other activities at Duke, right?

MAGNUSON: Yes, so we had classes this morning, and then after 1:00 p.m. classes were canceled.

BLITZER: So they just told everybody go back to your apartments, go back to your dorms, forget about it, do your homework, start studying in your -- in your rooms, right?

MAGNUSON: Exactly.

BLITZER: Yes.

MAGNUSON: It's been treacherous on the roads.

BLITZER: And so what's it like? What are your friends out there saying? What are they doing?

MAGNUSON: Well, one of my friends we -- was trying to go to lunch and drive that would normally take about 10 minutes, took him almost three hours.

BLITZER: Wow.

MAGNUSON: The North Carolinians do not know how to drive on the snow.

BLITZER: Yes. A lot of people in the south, they don't know how to drive on snow.

MAGNUSON: Yes.

BLITZER: Because they don't get much snow.

MAGNUSON: Yes. Yes. No.

BLITZER: When something like this happened, it's pretty unique so -- and it's a pretty potentially scary situation. Is everyone heeding the advice of the governor and everyone else, just stay inside, don't go any place, don't get on the roads? Are you seeing a lot of traffic out there where you are?

MAGNUSON: I sure am staying indoors. As you can see from my shot, most of the cars have cleared out. The cars that can. So for the most part we're trying to stay indoors and stay safe.

BLITZER: Any stories that you've heard? People who have -- I know people have been stuck in their cars for hours right now. We heard it in Georgia a couple of weeks ago, now in North Carolina. What have you heard? Any horror stories like that from any of your friends? MAGNUSON: Yes, my friend was actually trying to go pick up some supplies at Target and got back to her car and she couldn't -- it took her an hour to get out of the parking lot because the road feeding from the parking lot was too slippery. There was a group of guys that were actually having to push the cars up the road. And it took her a few hours to get home.

BLITZER: What a situation.

All right, Nick, go back inside. And thanks again for your eyewitness account at what's going on on the campus of Duke University.

I just want to update our viewers, the -- the University of North Carolina did accept the advice of the governor of North Carolina. They've canceled tonight's big game between Duke and North Carolina. Major rivalry in college basketball. That game will be rescheduled, clearly, but it's not going to happen tonight.

The governor telling us just a little while ago here in THE SITUATION ROOM, he wasn't going to go, he hoped no one would go. It is simply way, way too dangerous to get on the roads in North Carolina right now.

We'll continue the breaking news coverage right after this.

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