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Coverage of Massive Winter Storm Expected to Impact 85 Million People. Aired 11-12p ET

Aired January 22, 2016 - 23:00   ET


[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Major cities in the northeast. Air traffic at a standstill, thousands of flights have been canceled. We are told up to 7600 residents warned to stay off the roads and shelter in place in the face of what could be a record-breaking storm.

So let's get all the information that we need on the storm that is barreling up the east coast right now. And that is from our meteorologist Chad Myers.

Chad, tell us what is going on. Who is experiencing the worst right now? The worst is yet to come, though, by the way, right?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The worst is yet to come as soon as the low gets into the gulfstream which is that warm water that runs from Florida -- between Florida and the Bahamas and all the way up to North Carolina. And really, just offshore into New York City.

So that is the warm water. Although it is only 45 or almost 50 degrees to the south. That's the explosion that is going to happen when a very cold low is going to interact with that like a hurricane getting over warm water.

We have 31 or so million people now in the blizzard warning which means the winds are going to blow 35 or 40 miles an hour. It is going to snow very hard and visibilities are going to be less than half a mile for three hours at a time. And so, this blizzard is going to put down significant snow at all once. By the time you get done shoveling your driveways and maybe time to shovel it again.

Right now, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, you are seeing the snow. Just getting some snow into New York City. But when the wind begins to blow in this direction, then all of a sudden we are going to gather that moisture that is the humidity, that is where right over the gulfstream and blow it into the U.S. When that happens, that is when the storm evolves and explodes and becomes the nor'easter. As it becomes the nor'easter then we pick up the winds. I know we are seeing winds at 15 miles per hour right now. We are going to triple that and in some spots over 75 miles per hour along the shore near ocean city (INAUDIBLE), all the way up to the Delmarva and even into New Jersey from wildwood all the way up to -- almost to New York City, we're going to have winds here about 50 miles an hour.

The snow continues. The snow numbers in New York City have gone up. If you haven't been with us for a while, the snow number, the new number that we're focusing on for New York City is around 16 inches. Before it was eight to 12 then eight to 14. Now I think it's more like 10 to 16, maybe 10 to 18 because the storm is going to dump that snow right on top of the city. You see that haze? It looks like haze or fog. That is not fog. That is the snow falling from the sky.

There is some light snow in Atlanta right now but that's about done for the south. It's about where it's going to now. It's going to Baltimore, to D.C., to Richmond, to Philadelphia to Harbor and Grace (ph), to all the way to the Delaware water gap, even to Allentown will pick up heavy, heavy snowfall right through this dark purple area. New York City, though, now in it to win it as the storm gets a little bit farther to the north. This is all 12 inches or more for the city proper and it's a lot to plow. It is not devastating like it might be over parts of Maryland and Virginia. But if it gets to be 20 inches that is a very slow -- big, big slowdown for the big city of New York City with those millions of people trying to get back to work on Monday, may be difficult, Don.

LEMON: I'm looking at it right -- there it is. There is Times Square. And so, the snow has started to fall, as you can see. My question is, though, Chad, because I saw you on earlier. You said, you know, New York City may not get that much snow. So the question is, is it following the predicted path or the path you thought?

MYERS: It is but there is -- because now we are talking -- we had been talking about the big models, the GFS, the American model, if I have time to talk about this I will. And the European model, those are large scale models. Now we are following the micro or very small scale models that will have little bands of snow. Those bands of snow will come off the ocean like lake effect snow that goes to Buffalo. They will be lake effect or ocean effect snow bands in these cities because the air is so cold and back into the city. And that is what those microcosms. Those maybe only five mile wide snow bands or snow squalls will get. Now, I don't know whether it is going to hit Manhattan or it is going to hit West Chester County or is it going to hit Islip in New York or is it going to hit all of New Jersey, but there is a potential of a big band of difficult to move snow over the city. It's absolutely going to happen, Philadelphia, Baltimore, D.C., we have been talking about that for days. This is the first real evidence that we are going to get it up here too.

LEMON: All right. So stand by, Chad. There you go. Chad Myers told you. So everyone, please, be safe. Stay indoors unless you have to be outside.

Let's check in with Washington, D.C. because we know that they have been getting it. They really started earlier there.

Jennifer Gray is there. Brian Todd as well in Washington.

We are going to start with Jennifer Gray, though, who has been live of us this evening at the national mall. And we have been watching the snow pick up since she started doing live shots. So tell us what are the conditions like there now?

[23:05:02] JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Don, we are getting it. We are definitely in the thick of it. However, it is going to get worse before it gets better, believe it or not. Look behind me, you can barely see the Washington monument back there. We have a blanket of snow. We have four to five inches. However, as we have been saying it is hard to tell because of the winds blowing at 15 to 20 miles per hour. It is just blowing the snow all around. That is in big fat flakes coming down. And that's what we have been seeing over the last hour.

So the storm prediction center actually put out a discussion about an hour, hour-an-a-half to go talking about the snowfall rates one to two inches per hour. Some areas around D.C. will see higher snowfall rates per hour for the next several hours. And so, this is when it is all going to start to begin. We will continue to see the accumulations just build and build and build.

Of course, we are expected the National Guard troops to come in, about 60 of them any minute with about 30 vehicles. So they are going to be patrolling the streets throughout the evening and on standby in case anything they need them for anything.

Also, we have been seeing plows. You can see one right behind me right there, trying to stay ahead of this. But it is going to be very had as we get into the afternoon and evening hours to stay ahead of the snowfall rates because it's going to be coming down at such a fast, fast pace. But they have been out here. We have been seeing them consistently.

And so, as we go to the overnight hours, listen for thunder snow as well if you are in the D.C. area. We are kind of setting the stage for that with this heavier bands coming through. And also by tomorrow morning we are still going to see the snow coming down very, very high rates. And then should finally, finally be tapering off by the time we get into tomorrow evening, Don.

LEMON: And Jennifer, you mentioned thunder snow. Have you heard it?

GRAY: No. We haven't heard it yet. But we are expected it to hear it through the overnight and we could see two to three feet of snow here in D.C. So this one is going to be definitely worse than the two storms combined back in 2010.

LEMON: Jennifer Gray on the national mall. Thank you, Jennifer.

Brian Todd still out in the elements for us. Brian has been driving around and checking out the situation for us in The D.C. area and also in Virginia earlier.

What are you seeing now, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, real deterioration here in northwest D.C. I will switch out our dash cam. You can see the visibility here on Connecticut Avenue heading south back into D.C. from the Maryland line. We are inside D.C.

Now, the snow plows have been working tirelessly throughout Virginia, Maryland and Washington all night. But as you can see they are having a heck of a time just trying to keep up with this volume. We're going to stop. We actually -- can we jump out? We have a conference behind us. OK. We are going to keep going a little bit until we clear this policeman and we will show you --

LEMON: Are you being pulled over?

TODD: No, we're not being pulled over. I think he is just behind us. He is checking on some things. We are going to keep moving forward and he is moving forward ahead of us and then we'll pull over, Don. But what we can tell you is the new information from the Virginia state police.

Here is a stat that will really jump out at the viewers, 989 crashes from midnight until 10:00 p.m. We just got word from the Virginia state police throughout the state, 989 crashes. Nearly 800 disabled vehicles they responded to. There was one state trooper who got injured. He's OK. Now we're going to jump out of the car. The cop has gone on. I'll switch to the dash cam in front.

LEMON: You are not breaking the law, are you, Brian?


TODD: No, we are not breaking laws. I promise. This policeman was just checking on some things behind us and then he moved on, but we're OK.

The accumulation, we are told in D.C. by now is about five inches. But I can tell you along the sides and along, you know, where it is drifting it's clearly more. There is about seven inches of accumulation so far in Virginia, eight inches in some parts of Maryland. And as you just heard from Chad and Jennifer, this is the time of the evening when it is really starting to get bad -- switching to our other camera her, mobile camera outside.

The wind is now a huge issue. It was really whipping around earlier. It's tapered off a little bit here. But again, the wind is really causing visibility problems here in the district and elsewhere. And the snow drift is going to be a problem too. They told us that, you know, even when the snow stops if you think it's OK to venture out, it is not because they are going to take a while to clear off these roads.

Virginia state police and AAA have told us even when the snow stops Saturday evening, it's still going to take maybe 48 hours to clear all the roads. That means the Monday morning commute is going to be pretty bad, Don. So people should not think that just because the snow stops sometime late Saturday that they are in the clear here.

You have snow pack here on Connecticut Avenue. This is normally a very heavily traffic street especially at 11:00 on a Friday night. A lot of activity here. You have one vehicle coming northbound on Connecticut and that's it. It is slippery. There is, you know, a lot of snow pack here, a lot of slush and here is, you know, again, with the drift, and this -- the shoveling with the snow plows an issue in the next couple of days is going to be where to put all this stuff. So once they start to shovel it to the side, we saw this last year up

in the northeast. We saw this Buffalo in late 2014, a huge issue is going to, where are they going to put all the snow once all this stops? And that's one of the things we're going to be looking at in the next couple days, Don.

[23:10:35] LEMON: Brian Todd, out in the elements. Brian, don't break the law because we need you. We don't want you to get arrested or even ticketed on national television.

Thank you, Brian Todd. Appreciate it. We will check back again.

And then also I want to get to Ryan Young now. Ryan is in New Jersey for us where he is checking on conditions there. He has got some sideways snow blowing right in his face. What's going on?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Getting sideways snow and getting all this sleet and snow blowing in our faces for the last half hour or so.

Don, we wanted to walk out on to the pier so -- powerful winds are starting to pick up here. We know in about an hour from now at 12:00 they are expect the winds to get up to at 60 miles per hour.

But look, this is also what they are concerned about. The water here because of the high tide, look, you have a full moon and then you have high tide and they don't want the water to go over the edge. This has happened before. In fact, a police officer stopped and told us that during hurricane Sandy the water if you look right here, Jay, we will show him the water, was this high in this same area. And in fact, when the water came over the edge here it came all the way through here, knocked out this fence and then went into the first stories of a lot of the homes that are right in this direction.

Now, you can see the streets here covered in snow. We have seen people out and about. The bar down that direction, we talked about earlier, Don. People have been going having their Friday night drinks despite the fact that there have been snow. We have seen heavy equipment moving by clearing this area making sure it is clear. But once again the real concern is around 7:00 this morning when that high tide is supposed to hit whether or not the water is back up to this level again. Because obviously so many people don't want to deal with the water and the snow at the same time.

LEMON: I would say for you, Ryan, you should go inside that bar to warm up. That's it. Not at least until you are done with your work this evening.

YOUNG: That would be great, but I don't think they would like if I did that between live shots.

LEMON: No, no. Just warm up. I'm just -- I want you to play by the rules and the book.

All right. Thank you, Ryan Young. We will check back with you.

Speaking of Atlantic, he is in Atlantic City. Let's go to Atlantic County. I want to bring in Vincent Jones the director of the office of emergency management, Atlantic County in New Jersey and he joins us by phone right now. So this is a huge storm. What are the current conditions in New Jersey?

VINCENT JONES, DIRECTOR, QEM, ATLANTIC COUNTY, NEW JERSEY (on the phone): Right now we are experiencing snowfall. And as you just heard the wind is starting to pick up. We do have some blowing snow. Our concern is that for us it's a two-punch, we have some heavy snow toward the western part of our county to the eastern part of the county. We are looking at some snow with tidal flooding, maybe major tidal flooding and the persistent wind and some of the wind gusts getting up about 60 miles an hour. That's definitely going to cause us some problems.

LEMON: Is that your biggest concern? Because the storm, the winter storm warning in effect in your region it's until Sunday. And I want to know if that is your biggest concern over the course of the weekend?

JONES: For the eastern part of the county, (INAUDIBLE), it is. What we refer to as a stacked tide event is what we are going to be looking at. Each time we have a high tide, the water is going to pile up. And with the wind it's not going to be able to drain back out. So whatever we have in the back bays it's going to stay there. And then with the next high tide cycle that water is going to continue to rise. So, you know, that is a concern for us. It always is when we have nor'easters plus, it is, but you, you know, couple that with snow, you couple that with the wind and the blizzard like conditions, it is just going to be a nasty, you know, two days that we have to get through this.

And you know, with the (INAUDIBLE) are the concern is later in the week is when temperatures start to rise. If we have a fast snow melt, we are going to be looking at some inland flooding from this as well. So we are nowhere near out of the woods yet.

LEMON: So, you know, talking to you, you're an emergency official. We have been talking about how you are preparing, but what should people be doing, you know, in the area on their own?

JONES: You know, one of the things that we have asked people to do and it is human nature. People want to go out and want to see how much snow has fallen. They want to see what it looks like outside and all that does is, you know, create some problems for not only the public works and the highway crews that are out trying to plow and having to navigate around the cars that are on the road. But as you heard obviously from your staff and your reporters out on the road, you know, abandoned vehicles that are left behind become hazardous for the plow trucks. So we are asking people if they don't have to travel, if not an immediate necessities, stay home, ride this one out. And you know, don't venture out until it is all said and done. Get the crew time to get the roads clear. Get the roads open.

Again, with the flooding, people should have already moved their vehicles, moved any personal belongings that would be in low lying areas that will be prone to flooding. Hopefully, that they have already been taken place, you know. If not, with this event no evacuations and no evacuations. And again, no evacuations have been ordered because one of the problems that we have is where we would typically take these people if we were to tell them to leave is in the areas where we are looking at anywhere from 10 to 12 to maybe 14 inches of snow. So while we have taken them from one hazard, we are simply putting them into another hazard area. And you know, our hands are kind of tie. We can't really do that.

[23:15:46] LEMON: What about outages, Vincent?

JONES: Right now, we have no outages reported. But again as the winds begin to increase especially overnight into tomorrow and during the day tomorrow that is a concern of ours. With you know, power outages, trees bringing down the lines and a possibility with the wind gusts that they are talking about some of the actual poles coming down and bringing down a line. So that is a concern of ours especially with the temperature, you know, having prolonged outages people without heat. We are prepared for that, but again, you know, people just need to hunker down and ride this one out.

JONES: So what do you do, then? Because you said you didn't want to start evacuating people or moving people around because the areas where you would move them, you would be putting them in greater danger. So what if people do start to lose their power, what do they do?

JONES: What we have done is we have met with the municipalities that we know would be impacted by the flooding. Those towns have high- wheeled vehicles that if it necessitates, they are prepared to pick people up and bring them to a shelter in those municipalities where they have heat, they have water, they have provisions and they can maintain and care for those people. We're hoping it doesn't get to that, but again, they are prepared to that if they have to.

You know, people should have prepared for this. Again, there was a lot of lead time leading up to this event. So we are hoping that people took precautions and again, they are just going to adhere to what we are telling them and stay put.

JONES: Vincent Jones is the director of Emergency operations for Atlantic county, New Jersey. Good. Thank you, Mr. Jones. Good luck to you.

JONES: Thank you.

LEMON: All right. When we come back we are going to have more on the breaking news, this gigantic storm bearing down on the east coast. We are going to tell you just how bad it could get where you are.


[23:20:39] LEMON: All right, look at this. This is New York City. This is Times Square. The snow is starting to come down. You really can't see it that much. But according to our Chad Myers, our meteorologist, he said the models have changed. New York City is going to get hit and it could get a lot of snow. OK, look at this. You have to look at your TV. This is Atlantic

City. This is crazy, you guys. This is our breaking news tonight. This monster storm is bearing down on much of the east coast affecting 85 million people.

I'm going to Fairfax, Virginia because that's where Nick Valencia is and then we will check in with Sara Ganim in Philadelphia.

But Nick, to you first. When last we saw you there was a lot of equipment near you. They were salting and also plowing the roads. Have you changed locations? What's going on?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We just came off a little bit to the side of the lot, that staging area where those plows were at. And those plows headed toward this interstate, Don. This is a major thoroughfare through this area through Northern Virginia, Washington D.C.

This is interstate 50. You look up 66 east going there right there as well, a little connector. You see exactly how desolate these roadways are. A lot of treatment going on all throughout the day and check this out. This is the accumulation that we are seeing here. About seven inches of snow accumulating in this area, the Fairfax area. A lot of preparation being done. I think that is operative word today. We saw it earlier this afternoon. Thousands of trucks out there preparing for exactly what was expected. This is the storm living up to its hype, really living up the (INAUDIBLE) the meteorologist, the weather models, all who got this spot on.

This is expected to last through the weekend, well into tomorrow. And that is exactly what the local officials that we have been speaking to here are really concerned about that people get a little bit ambitious after having a night indoors if they want to check out exactly what happened overnight and those hours. It's expected to get really bad along midnight.

We are talking about the last hour, that wind was starting to pick up. It has kind of died down a little bit but there is a still this light dusting, some probably would call it a little bit of moderate dusting that is happening that is causing some major issues.

Minor accidents, over 500 of them, closer to 800 really, according to Virginia state police. Majority of those are minor fender benders. We did talk to some snow plow drivers, contractors, with the Virginia department of transportation and they told us that they saw two major accidents on the parkway here but we checked in with DOT, they could not confirm those accidents that actually happened. So that is actually a good thing here.

A lot of residents heeding those warnings and taking the advice. We heard from Brian Todd who is out there on those road, some cars are being abandoned. That's not what we are seeing out here. Sort of pan off, Jeff here. Take another look at this highway. It's kind of crazy to see this, Don. This is an area if you are familiar with this part of town, an interstate that is usually jam packed, maybe not right now during these hours, but certainly during rush hours. Only to have this left behind, those roads being treated by the thousands of trucks out there by the Virginia department of transportation. All these local officials really doing their jobs.

LEMON: Yes. Certainly, it wouldn't be a lot more people out on the road right now. I mean, it wouldn't be tons of people for, my goodness, we have seen what, may be two cars or three go by as you have been broadcasting. You are safely off the road there, Nick?

What highway is this? And I guess pretty much, what this is showing is that people are heeding the warnings and not getting out in the area where you are?

VALENCIA: Yes. You know, we see a couple people. We will just keep walking around to give our audience a little bit more of a context and perspective here as we see a snow plow pulling up here just behind us.

This is interstate 50, 60 west and east is the connector right here. We are seeing a few folks kind of wandering about. There is subdivisions just behind us here, apartment complexes. People want to see just what the snow is all about. But everyone is, for the most part, listening to what is being broadcast by the expert meteorologists and those local officials telling everybody to stay safe, stay off the roads. It's going to get really bad throughout this weekend. We talked about this, perhaps up to 40 inches of accumulation in the D.C./northern Virginia area. And that is going to last all throughout Sunday. And so, this storm is going to be a couple more days over the next 36/48 hours. It's going to come down pretty strong, Don.

LEMON: Nick Valencia, at Fairfax, Virginia. Thank you very much. We appreciate that.

The shot you just had, was that shot live, producers? Let's take a look at that shot. That is Brian Todd's shot. And Brian Todd has been traveling around the Washington, D.C. area checking the conditions for us. And so you can see, you know, I mean, the conditions are deteriorating. There's lots of snow coming down in the Washington, D.C. area. And I would imagine pretty similar conditions in the Philadelphia area as well. Maybe not quite as heavy snow or as much snow coming down as in Washington, D.C.

So let's go to Philadelphia. There you go, courtesy of our affiliate KYW. That appears to be in downtown in center city. Right on the corner as a matter of fact by KYW studio there at center city. Let's check in now -- and market street.

Let's check in with Sara Ganim.

Sara, if you are still standing in front of the skating rink now I know where you are, (INAUDIBLE) where the skating rink has been set up on the west side of city hall there. What are the conditions like?

[23:25:44] SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's interesting, Don, just a couple of minutes ago and we were talking to, I mentioned how there are a lot of cars, a lot of people out. But that seems to be dying down a little bit in the last 15 minutes. And while that is dying down, what is dialing up are these gusts of wind.

Now, we are actually in a little bit of a lull right now. But when they hit you, they hit you fast and that snow, that wet stuff that is coming down above, it really hits you in the face and you noticed right away.

I just want to take you over here for a second. These are the benches in the park right in front of city hall. This is a good two to three inches of accumulation. The snow didn't start here until about 7:00 this evening. So this is something that is only in the last couple of hours. Once the snow started to come down, it was really noticeable right away.

This is really wet snow, Don. When you hit it -- look at that. This is snowball weather making snow. Of course, officials here in Philadelphia cautioning people, this is Friday night. We know you want to go out, but please cut that short. Go inside. This is not the time to be outside playing in it because this storm is expected to bring between 12 and 22 inches to Philadelphia. That's more than they typically see in the entire month of January. And they began prep for the storm on Wednesday.

See the streets out here. They began bring them on Wednesday. They have the plow trucks ready. They are going to hit the roads about midnight. That's only predict. The streets commissioner telling me he gave the guys at the -- getting into the plow trucks a pep talk saying this is going to be a long one. This is a storm where you are going to have to have a lot of patience. You are going to have to realize that it's going to be a continual wheel for possibly a day or longer that they're going to be out on these streets, 400 plows in the city and 450 in the suburbs where they could get more snow.

They have got a lot of things going on here to try to keep everyone safe including a code blue which is a term for if you see a homeless person out in the middle of the storm, call the police so they can get them into a shelter, Don.

LEMON: Sara Ganim in Philadelphia for us.

Still a few people out. You see some of the cars. There is a taxi going behind her now. But if you don't have to be out in it, don't do it.

Sara, we will check back with you.

When we come back, more on our breaking news, a monster snowstorm barreling up the east coast. This one could be a record breaker, you all.


[23:31:51] LEMON: Look at that. Three guesses as to what that is. Can you see it, anybody? Can you tell? No? It is the White House. Snowed under, sort of. But those are the conditions in Washington, D.C. and much of the east coast, Washington, Baltimore, taking a direct hit from this monster storm affecting millions up and down the east coast. And it's only going to get worse tonight and into tomorrow morning.

So I'm going to bring in Reed Timmer, an accuweather storm chaser who is in Washington for us this evening.

So, Reed, you're chasing this storm in Washington. It's called a monster blizzard in full effect. How do you chase this as opposed to a tornado?

REED TIMMER, ACCUWEATHER STORM CHASER: Well something like this, you just chase on foot. I have all the proper gear. I have all kinds of layers. I could sleep in a snowbank if I have to. But I'm just kind of sit here waiting for a lightning flash or thunder snow. I'm monitoring the snowfall rates and reporting all the conditions. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world, that's for sure as an extreme weather enthusiast.

LEMON: So I want you -- you can't see this but we have been -- I'm sure maybe you have seen it online or you had a chance to glance at the television. But there are images of the storm from space, Reed, you get a sense of how huge it is, what do you think about it?

TIMMER: It's absolutely textbook nor'easter. It has a perfect conveyer belt of low level jet, just streaming off the Atlantic. That is actually just getting started. And when that starts, it is heading into the mid-Atlantic here, it could get some thunder snow. That is really strong. Winds are going to start. And it's just incredible to see the upper low interact with the Atlantic and then explode as the coastal storm system. And you see that cycle of system coming up the coast. And all that moisture is getting deposited as snow here on the cold side. So it's incredible to see meteorologically. You definitely feel for the people here. But it looks like most of the people are indoors. You can see the roads. It is hard to anybody out here which is a really good signs because the roads out here are instantly getting drifted over just after the plows move through.

LEMON: Are you doing this with a selfie stick?

TIMMER: No. I'm doing it with my hand right now. So it's starting to get a little numb actually. But, I'll switch over to the left hand pretty soon. I got the 360 degree cam, here just in case there is a lightning flash. I don't want to miss it.

LEMON: OK. So listen. The storm is expected to impact for like 85 million people. You have been in the center of many storms in your career. How do you think this is going to stack up?

TIMMER: I think in terms of the widespread impact on the population centers, it's definitely going to be the most significant I have ever chased. It could be historically too. It could exceed that 28-inch mark in Washington D.C. It is depending on how the small scale bands line up. And you know, it's very significant to witness it. I did chase that buffalo lake effect emergency back in 2014 with seven or eight feet of snow over a few days. But that was really localized over a few mile wide band and you can drive out of it and be in the sun. Something like this, you're trapped here. So I'm forced to watch this incredible snow for a few days. [23:35:01] LEMON: Are you walking around? What are you doing?

TIMMER: Yes. I'm just walking around. Definitely don't want to drive in these conditions. So yes, I'm just walking around out here, checking out the snow drift. We are being hit by a pretty strong band right now. So that's why I'm kind out here walking around and checking it out.

LEMON: Where exactly are you at again?

TIMMER: I'm in D.C., right in front of the capitol, so.

LEMON: You haven't heard the thunder snow, have you?

TIMMER: I haven't heard it until yet. But the storm just getting going. We are right at the beginning of it here. So there has been steady increase in the snowfall rates. And you can see the accumulation increase, probably seven, maybe even eight inches already here. It looks like with bigger drifts and we could see drifts several feet high tomorrow when the winds are gusting over 40 miles an hour.

LEMON: So we are looking at your video on the left is the live shot here. So you got a lot going on here, Reed. So as you have been out and about, does it look like the city is handling it well? Do you think they can handle this?

TIMMER: It looks like they're handling it really well. I mean, everywhere you look you see plows going by. Not only plowing the streets, but also the sidewalks. They're everywhere out here, so. And it looks like people are indoors. You hardly see anybody is driving around. And so far they are starting to not be able to keep up with the snowfall rates as it is getting a little heavier. But with nobody on the roads, you know, it's definitely is a good thing. See this drift on the car on the side of the car here. It's kind of neat.

LEMON: Let me see. Show it.

TIMMER: Right here.


TIMMER: A little cornice.

LEMON: Very nice.

TIMMER: The winds are just getting started. It has been pretty weak in terms of the wind so far. But they are just ramping up now. So the dangerous blizzard conditions are probably from here on out through tomorrow.

LEMON: Reed Timmer is a storm chaser. Thank you, Reed.

TIMMER: Thanks for having me. LEMON: You can see -- of course. That guy loves it. He loves what

he is doing. He loves being a storm chaser, the enthusiasm is palpable.

Brian Todd loves reporting too out in this weather. And he is also in the D.C. area and he has been driving around for us.

And I'm wondering, Brian, are you seeing fewer and fewer people out on the roads?

TODD: Don, we are seeing fewer people out on the road. We are in DuPont Circle (INAUDIBLE) in the center of D.C. right now. There is a pedestrian who wasn't watching and almost walked right in front of our vehicle just now.

Fewer people out walking in the street. Some people are walking but those are people who are going to some of the bars that happen to be open late night. We are on Connecticut Avenue. I'll switch out to the dash cam straight out ahead of us. And part of the problem in walking around is it's just getting harder to navigate the streets because the wind is really kicking up here in D.C. We have at least five inches of accumulation. And right now at about 11:40 p.m., we are heading into what we are told is going to be the most intense period of the snow from about midnight until about 9:00 a.m. And the snow won't even end then.

So out of dash cam, here you see Connecticut Avenue, the snow plows have been working around the clock but they have not been able to keep ahead of this and clear the roads to the extent it is easily passable. There is snow pack on the road. This hill that we are approaching here, those -- is a steep incline on Connecticut Avenue. And some cars that we have seen had trouble getting up it.

We are going to pull over to the right hand side of the road here. We will get out and give you a sense of the way the wind is and also just kind of the snow drift and some of the conditions here. Our photojournalist is pulling over. I'll get out and talk to dash cam in a second while he gets his third camera out. We are getting out of the vehicle here.

And you see people up here, Don, on Connecticut Avenue. Some people -- this is dangerous. Some people are walking in the middle of the street. Very, very dangerous situation for them. What we saw on the highways in Northern Virginia earlier is people kind of getting overconfident in their vehicles when they see the snow pack and the snow compacted from the shoveling, they got over confident. They went too fast, some of them spun out right in front of us, others got stuck on the exits trying to get off and it was a very bad situation.

We just got word from the Virginia state police, Don, 900-plus accidents. Actually, nearly 1,000 accidents throughout the state throughout the day. And again, it is just going to -- cycle is going to start again at midnight. They are going to be monitoring those accidents as people try to venture out. People are having trouble coming down Connecticut Avenue. We have seen some people spin out as they have come down Connecticut Avenue here. And again, the snow plows have not been out that we have seen in this area for at least a few minutes. But they have been roving around. They are working tirelessly. But again, they have to do that in stages so that they can take some volume off the street, find a place to put it and then go right back to work.

So, Don, again, while we're -- while the good news is there aren't a lot of serious traffic accidents in this area, the bad news is that some people may feel that as the snow tapers off in some places they might want to venture out. We are being told by city and state officials all over this area, don't do that because when the snow tapers off, that just means it is kind of ebbing and flowing. It's going to start up again. We are not really going to see a final tapper off until Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening, Don.

As I come out on to Connecticut Avenue, very slippery kind of underneath, a little bit of a sheen of ice and slush, you know, on top of the snow pack and just very difficult to move around right now. The wind was a huge issue just a few minutes ago. Really whipping around in the Connecticut Avenue area. And that really has impacted visibility. Visibility in this area all night long has been very, very poor.

[23:40:52] LEMON: And that is the thing. You don't know what is under the layer, the couple of layers there. It could be ice under there. And so, that's why they are telling to stay home.

Brian Todd in Washington, thank you very much.

When we come right back, much more on tonight's breaking news. A monster storm battering the east coast right now.


[23:44:51] LEMON: That's what it looks like in Philadelphia right now. That is near city hall on the west side of city hall in Philadelphia. Our breaking news on CNN, 85 million people in the path of a monster storm that is battering the eastern United States tonight.

I want to get straight out to it. Ryan Young is in Margate, New Jersey. Jason Carroll is in New York Times Square.

First to Ryan. Ryan, you said the snow is picking up last time we checked. What is going on now?

YOUNG: Yes. I was just turning on the IFB on so I could actually hear you, Don. So I'm going to put these gloves on while we are doing this.

Look. The snow has definitely picked up. If you look behind me, look at the street. You can see just how much it has picked up. We have seen a couple cars drive by in the last hour or so. Some people still heading out to the bar. They stay out for their Friday night. But most people that we can see have been heeding the warnings.

We know we are in that golden hour where we know the water could rise. And look. There is a full moon coming. There is also high tide. And that is what they are concern about. We are going to walk this direction because this pier during hurricane Sandy was actually partially blown away when the water decided to came over the banks here. And that's what they are concerned about. And not only is this a snow event, which you can see all those snow that is coming down, but they are worried about this water. Now, we have a light that is kind of focused on this area. So you can see the water going this direction. It looks like it has gotten a little higher, but not as high as they are worried about at 7:00 a.m.

The wind gusts could get up to 60 miles per hour. That could happen starting at midnight. So far the highest reading we have with our portable wind meter has been 20 miles per hour. And so, that's the good news so far. It's still coming down in solid chunks. So now, we have to wait and see what happens with this water here and whether or not the high tide effects this area, Don.

LEMON: This man doesn't just travel with a ruler so he can, you know, get -- see how deep the snow is. He has a wind meter or windometer (ph). But I what I'm wondering is --

YOUNG: Why not.

LEMON: Why not? You have to do what you have to do. So listen. I'm wondering, underneath that layer of snow or the snow that you are seeing there, is there ice under there?

YOUNG: Well, that's a good question, you know what, and back this direction before it was coming down wet and then kind of slushy. And I'll show you this. This is mostly powder here. I'm doing this with my hand. Getting down here, you see a little ice but not much. And especially down on the road, it's actually a pretty nice powdery out there. It's not that snow that we got in Atlanta where you see the ice, no. This is the thick snow that they can pretty much move pretty quickly when they come through there with the plows which they have been doing over the last hour and a half.

LEMON: Yes. That storm, that half inch of snow that shut Atlanta down for two months.


LEMON: So, are you seeing -- you were there. You were working there when it happened. I remember.

YOUNG: I was there. And it wasn't that bad. I got to speak up for my people down there.

LEMON: All right, whatever. So listen. You have plows and salt trucks out. Have you seen a lot of equipment?

YOUNG: We have seen a lot of equipment as we move back this direction. You and Chad were talking about those power lines. When you look back at the power lines in this direction, you can see nothing really hanging from those power lines up there. So, so far we haven't seen any power outages. We have seen that heavy equipment move through and you are seeing the salt being put down on the roads. This area has been plowed just a little bit.

But look. It seems like everything is working OK so far. It's that wind gust. It is that rising water that could happen around 7:00 a.m. that everybody is keeping their eye on, Don.

LEMON: All right, Ryan. Thank you very much. Margate, New Jersey, Ryan Young.

Now to Times Square and our very own Jason Carroll.

So Jason, you know, this city doesn't sleep but doesn't see this kind of snowstorm often as well.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a city that doesn't sleep. And proof of that is right here in Times Square. You can look behind me and see. Even though that we are under a winter blizzard warning, that until 4:00 a.m., still lots of people are out here as the snow started to come down just in the past hour or so. New York City expecting about a foot to a foot and a half of snow, Don.

We are also under a winter weather emergency. That is going to be until about 8:00 a.m., the mayor encouraging people to stay off the roads. That way emergency vehicles can get through. Some 2300 sanitation workers are going to be working 12 hour shifts. So there, in terms of resources the city is well prepared. In terms of how much snow ultimately we are maybe getting here in the city, again, expecting about a foot to a foot and a half. But it's not expected basically until tomorrow morning we are hearing starting at about 8:00 a.m. So right now we are just getting a light dusting. The worst, if it is to come, still several hours away -- Don.

LEMON: Hopefully, at 8:00 a.m., I will be watching maybe Jason Carroll on Times Square. We shall see.

CARROLL: No, no, no. Not me. You will be watching somebody else at 8:00 a.m.

LEMON: You --

CARROLL: I'm kidding.

LEMON: You have lost your mind. Have you been able to talk to people, New Yorkers, otherwise about this storm?

CARROLL: Yes. Absolutely. And you know, actually earlier, when I was out taking somewhat of a break, you know, going to the supermarket, I had quite a few conversations. The markets were packed. We were down at Trader Joe's even a little earlier. There were lines out the door and to be honest, there was some line out the door, and some of the liquor stores as well. So people stocking up on supplies of food and other things.

But in terms of storms, as far as storm New York has seen much bigger storms in the past. So this is a storm that the city has prepared for. And in terms of the people, the people are prepared as well. [23:50:28] LEMON: Jason Carroll in Times Square. Nice job, Jason.

See you at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

When we come back, more from the snow zone, what you should and shouldn't do in the middle of a storm like this.



[23:54:21] ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: When the snow storm -- as we know that things that we should do, you should stay warm. You should stock up on food. But there are several things that you should not do during a big snow storm.

The number one, don't forget your prescription drugs. So people remember to stock up on food but you also have to stock up on your medicines. Make sure you have everything you need for at least several days through the duration of the storm.

And number two, don't shovel snow if your doctor has told you to avoid vigorous exercise because shoveling snow really is vigorous exercise. If you have a heart condition and your physician has said be careful then you shouldn't be shoveling snow.

Number, three don't heat your homes with stoves or charcoal grills. When the power goes out and it gets cold, sometimes people are tempted to turn on the stove, open it up or to bring the outdoor grill inside. Don't do it. Carbon monoxide can kill. Carbon monoxide is especially dangerous because it is odorless and colorless. So you wouldn't even know you are being poisoned.

Number four, don't drink alcohol to stay warm. It is an old wide tale that drinking a nice hot scotty (ph) will keep you warm, but in fact it's not true. It is actually the opposite. Drinking alcohol can make your body lose heat.

Number five, don't warm up your car if the tail pipe is covered with snow. And that is because if your tail pipe is blocked, those gases are just going to go right into your car. The snow is beautiful, enjoy it but stay safe.


[23:55:51] LEMON: Thanks, Elizabeth.

We'll be right back.


[23:59:42] LEMON: Before we get out of here, I want to tell you about -- remind you about Monday night. Don't miss CNN's Iowa Democratic Presidential town hall at 9:00 eastern. I'm going to see you right after that at 11:00. We are going to break down all the action with our experts. Our storm coverage continues from Atlanta. But I want to tell you be

safe out there. Heed the warnings. Everyone stay inside unless you have to be out.

Here is Natalie Allen and George Howell in Atlanta with our coverage.