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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Hurricane Frances: Winds Still at 100 MPH
Aired September 5, 2004 - 04:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: Approaching the 5:00 hour now. This is live coverage of Hurricane Frances; just a live shot of Florida this near West Palm Beach. That boat has been rocking in the water, that is an Intercoastal Waterway. Lets go to Rob Marciano at the top of the 5:00 hour to get an update on this slow moving hurricane.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The latest advisory guys have the wind still at 100 miles per an hour. So it is still a Category 2 storm at this point. I want to point out that the northern flank of this system is under a tornado watch, and now we have tornado warnings that are out. This is a -- the radar that actually can show the circulation in the atmosphere.
This is Saint Johns County right up through St. Augustine. That's how far away you can get tornadoes to spawn out of this system, out of the center of it at least.
The red highlighted county there is where the tornado warning is, and you can see how everything is moving off the ocean from the east to west, and then there's little -- a couple of little circles here. We'll run it one more time.
See that little circle. That's where the Doppler radar's picking up the circulation there.
And so, right now, the tornado warning is out until 5:15, but, if this thing holds together, it could be in the town of Middleburg by 5:26. I mean, that's a ways off. It's a pretty big town. It has to cross a river and I-95 to do that.
But just to give you an idea of what we're dealing with, typically, tornadoes that are spawned from hurricanes aren't that big and that destructive, but this one is moving at 50 miles an hour. It's a Doppler-indicated radar, meaning we see it in the clouds, not necessarily touching the ground yet, but that certainly is a possibility.
And the idea of using the Doppler to warn folks is so that they get some lead time to take shelter before the tornado actually hits the ground. Hopefully, these folks have already done that.
Give me another source. I'll take whatever you got.
Here's GEO. Here's the satellite picture. West Palm Beach. I've been showing you that. West Palm now is at the southern part of the storm. There's the center of it right there, and the southern part now is where you're seeing the brightest convection, the brightest colors, the oranges there, and that's where we're seeing the nastiest weather, with John Zarrella reporting from the scene and showing you that boat there.
So the latest advisory, guys, by the National Hurricane Center has west-northwesterly movement. That hasn't changed. About seven miles, eight miles an hour. We have winds at 100 miles an hour. That's come down five.
As the center of this thing continues to move on shore, we'll look for the winds to begin to decrease because we -- as you all know -- and we will need that warm water to sustain this thing -- and, once we get the entire eye over landfall -- and that's still going to take a couple of hours to do that. Once we do that, we'll start to see the winds drop off.
But, in the meantime, we still have strong winds around the center of this thing, obviously heavy rain, and, as far north as Daytona, this entire section of the state is under a tornado watch until at least -- at least -- 8 a.m.
That's the latest from me here.
CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: Rob, I just don't see how anyone that is in the middle of this hurricane could either hear sirens or have anyway of knowing that there's a big tornado...
MARCIANO: Yes, I -- yes, exactly. Well, they've got other concerns as well. So they're -- I suspect everybody is hunkered down as it is.
One other -- one other thing before I let you go.
MARCIANO: We have our fifth hurricane of the season.
MARCIANO: Tropical Storm Ivan has now been upgraded to a hurricane way out there in the Atlantic Ocean, so...
CALLAWAY: And where is it heading?
MARCIANO: Well, in our general direction.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: Whew!
CALLAWAY: Of course it is.
MARCIANO: But it's not going to be here for several, several -- probably at least a week.
GRIFFIN: Well, let's ask John Zarrella if he's ready for Ivan.
John, you are now getting hit with the...
CALLAWAY: Oh, my goodness.
GRIFFIN: ... worst part of the storm at this moment.
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I heard Rob Marciano saying that, and I'm thinking to myself -- when I first walked out here, it was a little bit calmer for a second. I said, oh, boy, maybe I'm going to be able to report how the winds have died down. I guess not, huh? It's pretty nasty.
And I'm standing out here in the middle of the street right now, and I guess I'm in about six inches of water. It's well up over the curb, walking up through it, and, you know, obviously, you can see that wind is blowing the water right off of the parking lot here that -- we're in the front of this condominium that we've been hanging out in all night, inside their overhang right where our cameraman is, trying to stay a little bit dry.
But, yes, the winds have really continued like this. Now we're in, I would say, you know, our ninth hour of a real beating, and, certainly, the last four hours have been just about like this without much change one way or another, a little bit of a brief respite now and then, and then it kicks back up again.
I can show you over here, you know, this is really the kind of damage that we've seen, these kinds of trees down. These are pretty thick heavy trees that have been come down. But not the palm trees. They've stayed up pretty well, although they've taken quite a beating. Not much left of those palms.
But, you know, the wind blowing out of the South, as it has for the last several hours, pretty much out of the South to the North, all the water's just racing down Flagler Boulevard, which is -- runs just adjacent to the Intercoastal, and, on the other side of the Intercoastal, of course, is Palm Beach.
And, as I look out there, absolutely pitch black. It will be very interesting in a couple of hours when the sun comes up to get a look across to Palm Beach, see what we can see, and up and down some of these streets.
But, you know, we saw the arcing of the transformers repeatedly up until about -- oh, I'd say about 3:00 in the morning -- 3:00, 3:30 in the morning -- and during the last hour or so, we haven't seen any of that. So I would assume that all of the power is now completely out in the West Palm Beach area. There can't be any power left on at all.
But you can certainly see what we're going through here now and, again, into our ninth hour of this.
CALLAWAY: You know, you said that the palm trees look like they're surviving, but, with that amount of rain and nine hours of relentless wind, some of those look like a little push might send them over.
ZARRELLA: Yes, I don't know how much more they can take of this. There are some that are pretty much -- pretty much bent over and shot as it is, and, you know, when we get a chance at first light to look up and down the streets to see, you know, what other kind of damage there is...
And, once you get that ground saturated, a good gust of wind is going to knock a lot of the other kinds -- particularly the other kinds of trees that you see down here. You know, palm trees are here for a reason. They can stand this kind of weather, but a lot of this other stuff that's transplanted down here is what comes down and falls on the power lines and beats against the power lines.
But, you know, the rain again -- I know Rob was talking about the rain total in West Palm, maybe six inches or so, and, certainly, I would suspect that could be a good six inches because it has been like this now -- this beating, driving rain -- for hours.
We had a light rain for most of the early evening on Saturday for -- I'd say about 8:00 until about 11:00. That was fairly light rain, a lot of wind, but light rain, and then, you know, once midnight rolled around, it really started coming down in buckets, and it's been these sheets of rain just constantly for the past five hours now.
Now we're at about 5 a.m. here, and I can see there's a car, it looks like, that's about to come down the street here off to my left. I can't -- I have no idea who that is that's made their way here. Maybe it's our replacements.
CALLAWAY: I just hope there's a driver in the car.
GRIFFIN: John, let me tell you. I can guarantee you it is not your replacement. You stick around with us. We're going to go up north, as you check that out, to Orelon Sidney. She is in Orlando.
And it looks like the conditions have not deteriorated too much there -- Orelon.
ORELON SIDNEY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: That's correct, Drew. It really -- I think the winds have picked up maybe about 10 miles an hour more than it was the last time, and it is a pretty good gust.
The winds are northeast at 32 miles an hour, and I could estimate -- I heard Rob say earlier that the gusts we were seeing here were in the 50-mile-an-hour range, and that's probably about right.
I was looking to see if the 5 a.m. update was available. I've got my little computer here, but I don't see that the 5 a.m. update is available yet, and I'm curious as to what the winds are now in the storm. The National Hurricane Center will update at 5:00 and let us know what the very latest is.
But here in Orlando, it's kind of status quo in a way. We've got quite a bit of light rain. Every now and again, you'll get some heavier squalls come through, and you'll see the gusts of wind, just like you did a moment ago, but, in general, things here are much quieter. There is a tornado watch in effect, and, of course, you always have to watch out for that.
And you were talking earlier about the sirens. I think a lot of the local people are probably tuned in here to the local affiliates. I know in places where the water -- where the power's out, you can't do that. But a lot of local affiliates here are running 24-hour-a-day coverage. And so I think that the Orlando folks would be pretty well informed in the event of any tornado warning.
But, for now, it's wet. It's a little bit windy, but it is certainly nothing like what Jim -- what Zarrella and Anderson Cooper have been facing throughout the overnight hours.
GRIFFIN: Hey, Orelon, you...
SIDNEY: Back to you, guys.
Rob, do you have the update yet?
MARCIANO: Yes, yes. It's -- we've got winds now at -- down to 100 miles an hour, Orelon, so it's still a Category 2.
And the swathe as far as how far north these -- the winds go, tropical storm force winds still extend up to 200 miles from the center of this thing.
So your latest gusts, peak wind out of Orlando, was 50 knots. So, again, almost 60 miles an hour, 58 miles an hour there, so...
SIDNEY: Yes, that's...
MARCIANO: And the other thing I...
SIDNEY: That's about right. Some...
MARCIANO: Go ahead, Orelon.
SIDNEY: Sometimes it reminds me of when I was 15 years old and I rode through the -- through a car wash with my best friend, Robby Lovelace (ph), and it feels a lot like that sometimes.
SIDNEY: You get smacked around a little bit, especially with some of the foliage that we have here, you know, a little bit of, and -- you know, the odd thing that I've discovered -- and I don't -- and I noticed this on the Hurricane Hunter flight, too -- is I haven't see any lightning, even when I was up in the Hurricane Hunter. I expected to see quite a bit, and there's been none.
So we really don't have a lot of electricity problems here. I think that's one of the reasons the power is still on here, even though we do have those very gusty winds. CALLAWAY: You know, we had a question from -- one of our viewers actually sent us an e-mail question wanting to know if there was much lightning during the hurricane and, if not, why.
GRIFFIN: Well, Orelon, which...
SIDNEY: No, there isn't at all.
SIDNEY: Go ahead.
GRIFFIN: Which storm was -- was it Bonnie or -- which storm were you referring -- we showed some lightning data in one of the recent storms, and it was just -- it just lit up. Do you remember when you were on duty that time and you fired up the lightning data? Which storm was that? Was that Bonnie which -- that was only a tropical storm.
SIDNEY: It was -- it was -- yes, it was probably Bonnie, and I remember that Bonnie, too, I think, was interact -- it's kind of hard for me to remember, but I think Bonnie was also interacting with a little cold front, and so you probably got a little bit more of the typical convection than you see when you get that extra lift.
But being that this is a warm-core storm, I guess we just don't get a whole lot of charged separation. To get lightning, you've got to get the positive charges to the top of the storm and the negative charges to the bottom of the storm, and you do that -- generally, the theory is -- with a lot of friction with a lot of the up and down motions, and maybe there's just not enough of that.
I guess I'm going to have to do some research, and maybe I'll call the Hurricane Hunter guys back and ask them that question.
GRIFFIN: Let's have you two meteorologists listen in. Gary Tuchman is going to join us and give us an update on his position in Fort Pierce -- Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'd love to get involved in this lightning conversation. I can tell you -- I can tell you during Hurricane Charley -- I'm having a little problem with my ear (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
GRIFFIN: OK. Gary having some audio problems.
But it looked calm there in Fort Pierce, Rob. He was standing outside what looked like a pier, and it did look like it was calm at the moment.
MARCIANO: You know what? Fort Pierce is pretty much in the eye of the storm, so...
MARCIANO: There's Fort Pierce, so it... CALLAWAY: He could have been in an area that was blocking him from some of the wind and the rain, too. We hope so. He's been in the middle of it throughout the night.
Anderson Cooper on the phone with us, speaking of people in the middle of this. Since -- what time did you start covering this, Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I started about 20 years ago, it feels like, but I think it was actually around 3 p.m. in the afternoon.
CALLAWAY: Right. What's the situation now?
COOPER: Well, we're actually driving back to our hotel. Bill Hemmer's probably going to be taking for me shortly. But this is really the first chance I've gotten to actually see a lot of Melbourne itself, and we were pretty isolated over at the marina.
Surprisingly, the whole route -- Route 1 along the Intercoastal highway is out of power, no doubt about it, and, as we're now driving on 192, actually -- the power actually went out as we were passing through downtown. I don't know if it was a transformer that just blew, but, all of a sudden, everything went black.
We're now about a mile or so from the Intercoastal Waterway, and there are actually street lights operating. So it's very strange. Some parts of Melbourne still actually have power. Some streetlights are operating. We saw one firetruck -- oh, actually, that's -- whoa. OK. Sorry. A power line just went down in front of us.
A lot of the electrical cables on the side are still up, but they are bouncing around. It's like a jump rope. I mean, they are just moving up and down. It's a wonder more of these have not fallen, are not crisscrossing the road.
It is amazing really, at least along Route 1 and 192 in Melbourne, how little damage there is. I mean, the stores -- a lot of the neon lights are still on. The traffic lights are blinking. A few signs are down. But this town -- at least in this part of it -- seems to have weathered the storm pretty well.
CALLAWAY: What about flooding on the roads?
COOPER: Really, you know, it's been a blessing that we really have not had that much rain here in Melbourne. I know in a lot of other places that's going to be a real problem. But, you know, the roads are certainly slick, as you would expect them to be, but you don't see a lot of water coming out of drain pipes or anything.
We're just passing by an enormous tree, which has fallen right around Hollywood Boulevard and Evans Road.
But if it really -- very little flooding that we can see, at least on these two roads that we've been driving. GRIFFIN: All right. Well, that is good news from you, Anderson, driving around now in Melbourne, and, if you're heading in, thanks for your work over the past 12, 15, 20, whatever it is hours.
GRIFFIN: Or years. And we will catch you later on during the day, no doubt.
But we're going to join WPLG's coverage in progress right now. Let's take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... and you have a need to do so...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... like a fire, something along those lines. So, certainly, as you -- as we get past this storm even here, you know, make your house safer from that standpoint.
I'm just saying that if you have the discretion on certain windows and things like that that maybe aren't -- like -- a perfect example: In my house, I've got two guests rooms that -- you know what? -- I could leave the -- those there because I've got ways of getting out, rooms around it. I've got other doors.
But why waste the time taking those down just yet when you can -- when you can save that time and concentrate more on other preparations and other...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now this is going to make you laugh. We've had our shutters up since Hurricane Charley.
Well, my husband, you know, is a photojournalist, and he has to travel out of town, and he wants to make sure that I'm safe and I'm prepared. So we've had a month -- we've been driving our neighbors...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Fair enough.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... nuts. They're like when are you going to take your shutters down. I said no. And now with Frances, they were like leave them up, and we're like, well, we were planning to, and now I'm still going to plan to keep them up for Ivan, and -- I don't mind being in the dark, to be honest with you. I like my little bat cave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. And we're all going to need a rest after this one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And how about -- how about this? Maybe this is the best way to leave it, and this is maybe the best advice we can give because it's so individual for everybody. Sit down today and talk about it. Get your plan together. You know, husbands and wives get together, whatever it might be. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's, you know, make sure there's a plan. Don't just -- you know, just run in and just take everything -- take everything off and then say now what. Just discuss it with everybody, you know. I think it really would be important to do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right because we've all had those wish lists now that we've had to make preparations, and, you know, us in the media, we're not immune to this. We have to make the same preparations, and there are several things on this list that I'm saying, gosh, I wish I'd had this around the house or I should have done this days ago.
UNIDENTIFI`ED FEMALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I'm going to go out in the next couple of days and make sure I have that sitting around the house, and, obviously, as we get more information in about Ivan, the advisories that come, the 11 a.m. today, the 5:00 tomorrow. We all know how unpredictable these hurricanes are, but it's important just to go ahead at this point and fill in the holes that you had in your plans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that's why we're here. Keep it on Local 10. We will, of course, obviously, keep you updated, give you all the latest information possible.
This is a live report right now from the Melbourne area. Let's take a listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... progressively gotten worse. Let's give a demo here of how fast this whipping wind will take this tiny little branch. Ready, Scott? Here we go. Gone right like that. I suppose if I stepped out there, I'd be doing the same thing, so I'm going to refrain from that.
In the meantime, we're kind of waiting to see how long this thing lasts. I just heard Bill say that the storm is weakening, which is good news for us. But I'll tell you stand out here and it doesn't feel like it is, and -- I know it is, but I'll tell you what, the winds are probably the strongest they've been since we've been out there.
He was mentioning about sustained winds of 100 miles per hour, and right at the edge of this building, it feels like that, maybe not quite 100. It just feels like around 85 or 90.
We've kind of gotten good at gauging what wind feels like on the body because we had a wind gauge all afternoon, except the one we have no -- is no longer working. It's saying it's about 40 miles per hour. So we know that's not right. So we'll have to get a new wind gauge.
Beyond that, there's not much more to report. There's no cops. There's no fire department. It's just the media right now and the occasional citizen driving up to the causeway, realizing it's real stupid to go over the causeway, and they do a U-turn.
You can't make it over that bridge. No car would make it over in these winds right now. They'd be plunged over into the Intercoastal.
Back to you, guys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. And from Melbourne, we want to send things south now.
GRIFFIN: We go now to our own Ed Lavandera, who is in Lake Okeechobee -- Ed.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
It's still dark. We are starting to see a little bit of movement. We're starting to see a little bit of movement of the cars along the road, the occasional emergency vehicle going by, but that is very sporadic.
It is definitely not as windy, definitely not as rainy as it was just a little while ago, the last time we spoke with you. So perhaps the -- you know, I mean, the eye of the storm kind of finally approaching here which is what we've been waiting for, to kind of get a little bit of a break.
The rain and thunderstorms here have been relentless for the last six or seven hours. And it is taxing, I think, is the best way to describe it. It's one of those rare storms that just takes forever to get here.
Just a little while ago -- I've been listening to radio reports here throughout the evening and throughout the night, and it's interesting the way local radio stations have been kind of handling the storm throughout the night. It's almost like a fireside chat as, you know, the radio hosts let people call in and just kind of vent and talk about what they've been going through over the last couple of hours.
It's been kind of an interesting approach. You know, there's not really a whole lot of information that can be passed out right now in terms of what exactly is going on. It's all anecdotal really, and, you know, a lot of the streets are empty, and there's -- at this point, it's very difficult to get to the areas to kind of start assessing damage, and it's definitely too dark to do that and too dangerous.
So it's been kind of interesting listening to some of these local radio stations that people have just kind of called in and vented and described what's going on in their neighborhood. It all -- you almost get the sense that it's been kind of therapeutic for the thousands of residents that are hunkered down in homes, hotels, shelters, wherever just kind of doing their best to get through this storm.
CALLAWAY: Certainly voicing frustration over the length of time they've had to spend holed up in shelters and in their homes. LAVANDERA: Well, you know, that's the way it started out earlier in the evening. You'd hear a lot of people calling in. This is well before the eye of the storm had even made landfall. People were calling in there when is my -- my power's been out for six or seven hours. When's it going to come back?
You know, you could tell the radio hosts were kind of holding back, didn't want to laugh at these poor people. They said, look, it's going to be a couple of days before you get that power back, and, you know, there aren't any electrical workers that are willing to get out into 100-mile-an-hour winds and start replacing power lines, and, of course, that's not going to happen.
So that would mean people have got to either -- learn that this is going to be a long couple of days and, as soon as the sun comes up, everybody can get a better idea of just how long the next couple of days will be.
CALLAWAY: Did the people that have been calling in on the stations -- did they seem prepared to have been in -- isolated for this amount of time, the food and water, and that type of thing?
LAVANDERA: There's just been a general sense from a couple of these shows, you know, because you hear people say that for Hurricane Charley people weren't as prepared, but because of that hurricane, all these people on -- for this storm are prepared much better, and there is that level of anxiety and anticipation that usually starts several days before.
I remember reporting in the days before Hurricane Charley that we described that there's this great level of apathy among residents who didn't really think it was going to hit that part of Florida's coast. That definitely didn't happen this time.
You could sense in many of the friends that I have and family that I have here in the South Florida region that they knew that was going to be for real, and they definitely took it seriously.
GRIFFIN: Well, I think, Ed, that had to do, number one, with the devastation of Charley and, number two, the size of this storm. There was no way it was going to miss you if you were anywhere in Florida.
LAVANDERA: Yes, exactly. It's -- and it's interesting where you've got this crisscross pattern across the state, and we're kind of probably on the southern point of that here in Okeechobee City, just on the northern edge of Lake Okeechobee, you know, and people in Orlando and the Orlando area are -- the ones who are closer to the Orlando area will be the ones who kind of -- who took that double hit from Charley and from this storm as well.
CALLAWAY: All right, Ed. We certainly appreciate the reporting that you've been doing for us all night long.
That is Ed Lavandera.
We're going to take a break, and we'll continue our coverage of Hurricane Frances in just a moment.
GRIFFIN: And we continue that live coverage of Hurricane Frances with Gary Tuchman. Last we checked, he was in Fort Pierce, Florida, which may have been in the eye.
Gary, what's your conditions right now?
TUCHMAN: Well, Drew, I think our hour lull is over. The rain has started coming down heavily again. The winds are picking up. So I guess that bad part of the storm may be on its way here to Fort Pierce. We finished the good part of the storm. It lasted about 12 or 13 hours. So it's all relative, I guess, the way you talk about it.
I'm not sure how much you heard before when I was talking. We had a problem with our audio. Our equipment is so soaking yet from this entire day. It actually has (UNINTELLIGIBLE) remarkably well considering all the water and salt that's gotten on it.
But I was talking about something I have never seen before in covering a hurricane. We were at the marina all day. These huge yachts and boats were in place for hour after hour in 80-, 90-mile-an- hour winds. But then just after midnight, about midnight or 1 a.m. Eastern Time, all of a sudden, they just started blowing over to the wall of the dock, and about 12 or 13 of these boats and yachts ended up moving and all being thrust against the wall together.
One of the yachts had a big sail, a big mast on it, and the mast actually got intertwined with a bar and restaurant that's on the other side of the dock. So the dock kept getting chipped away by these boats and these yachts that were there, and we were very concerned and -- to this moment, we still are concerned, but we had to leave the area because we were afraid the dock was going to collapse. That's the type of thing you're dealing with here.
Behind me, you can see some of the rubble from the motel. We're in the motel parking lot right now where we're staying. And this is just some of the rubble that's come off the roof and come up the siding of this hotel, and this -- you probably can't see because it's dark, but this parking lot here is also flooded.
Very typical of all the problems we've seen throughout Saint Lucie County and Fort Pierce. Fort Pierce has not been hit directly by a hurricane since 1939, and, technically, it still hasn't because the center of this hurricane hit Martin County about one mile from the Saint Lucie County line where we are right now.
But they were greatly effected by it, and, when the sun comes up very shortly, we'll find out the most important thing, if there have been any casualties here.
GRIFFIN: All right, Gary.
Gary Tuchman live in Fort Pierce in the end of the lull of his storm.
CALLAWAY: We're going to listen now into WOFL who spoke with a Melbourne, Florida, resident a little bit earlier tonight who sought refuge in Orlando. Let's hear what he had to say.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're here with Jerry Mathison (ph). He's been a longtime Melbourne resident.
And, Jerry (ph), you evacuated from Melbourne Beach with your wife here. Is that right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've slept here the last two nights, and we wouldn't stay over at the beach in this. You know, just -- we wanted to get out of the way. It's a (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but we didn't want to evacuate all the way either because those traffic jams are just hell.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. That's true. That is true.
Now what are you thinking right now? You were out here just to...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is new territory for Brevard County. We've never seen anything like this. We've seen higher winds maybe but not this constant, and to have this thing sitting on us -- and I imagine, what are we, sub 80, I imagine. Once it goes to 100, it sounds like a freight train going through.
But this is bad for -- the steady stuff is going to build up and do a lot of damage to us, and we're not real happy with it, but we're glad to be able to be here and be safe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's right. And, you know, we've even talked with some of the neighbors over in Melbourne Beach and -- who don't -- who didn't evacuate. Are you worried about them right now, your neighbors?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not really. Not if it -- if you toss a coin -- the night before last, we decided why be silly, come on over, and we only came to here, but if we had had to go any farther, I think we would have gone into the bathroom and stayed out in Melbourne Beach. It just wasn't that strong a storm at that time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, I never want to stay over there, but I think we're all right, they're all right. There's no big problem. The tornadoes might hurt somebody, but the storm, no. We're Floridians. We can handle it.
GRIFFIN: OK. We're going to check in right now with Rob Marciano to get the very latest on Hurricane Frances. He's up in the Weather Center -- Rob. MARCIANO: Hey, guys. I got the radar zoomed into the Orlando- Melbourne area, and last check, Orlando had wind -- peak wind gusts at 50 knots. So, again, 58 miles an hour. And, obviously, some rainfall.
Oh, that piece was on tape. Down in Melbourne, they really -- they still get hammered here, and just north of Melbourne, here's Titusville. Look at that little squall. It's going to hit Titusville. It's just getting hammered there. And Cape Canaveral. Whew! That's some good stuff.
All right. Let's slide down to the South. Fort Pierce we had -- we just had a report from -- I think Gary Tuchman is in Fort Pierce, and he said the winds and the rains are just -- are just beginning to pick up, and he is just now getting out of the eye wall.
Interesting -- a couple of interesting things. First off, this very solid, very strong back half of the eye wall is about to move on shore. So from West Palm Beach all the way up to Fort Pierce where they saw the front side of the eye wall come in a few hours back, now the back wall has been coming in, and, obviously, it's brighter, and it's a lot more intense, at least than the front wall is right now.
The other interesting thing to notice -- first of all, from West Palm up to Fort Pierce, we haven't gotten reports out of these areas for several hours. I mean, when the power goes out, they have backup generators. But, once they run out of gas, those generators go kaput, and we've got nothing. So we're just kind of going with what we've seen from our live reporters.
A few hours ago when this thing was offshore -- several hours ago when this thing was offshore, we had a beautiful, very round symmetrical eye. Now the eye wall is beginning to get a little bit more clustered with rain showers, and, also, you notice it's kind of stretched out.
As the eye wall came on shore, obviously, it weakens because it runs out of its warm weather fuel there, but also it runs into land which actually encounters some friction. So now it almost is compressing just a little bit that way, and, as that happens, the back of the eye wall now beginning to come in and -- up and down I-95, guys, and, of course, along the beach where I'm -- I assume there aren't a whole lot of folks out there.
It's going to get very, very squally here, and hurricane-force winds easily from the back half of this thing could -- actually, you could see some of the strongest winds that we've seen so far. So now the back half of the eye wall about to make landfall, and I'm afraid to say that we're not going to be out of any -- not going to be out of it for several hours still to come.
CALLAWAY: That is just unbelievable. Well, Gary Tuchman's been in Fort Pierce, and we've had Anderson in Melbourne and John Zarrella in West Palm, and I don't think you could convince him right now that the worst is still to come.
GRIFFIN: Maybe another half a storm to go. It's just incredible.
Rob, thanks for the update.
We're going to be back right after we take this break.
CALLAWAY: Let's check in again with our John Zarrella who has been battling the storm there in West Palm -- John.
ZARRELLA: Yes, I'm down here literally at the corner of -- I'm not even sure what street this is. I know I'm on Flagler and -- I can't tell what the other one is, but this is right at the corner of Flagler on the Intercoastal.
And if you could seem me, I'm in about eight inches, maybe 10 inches of water right here, and now it's really kicking up and blowing again, and I did hear Rob Marciano say that the back half of that eye wall is coming on shore now, and, you know, the worst may yet be -- to be coming at us here, but it's -- it's -- that's hard to believe after nine hours of this, that we still may get more of a pounding than we've had so far.
But I'm walking across this entire parking lot now, and you can see that it's just totally underwater. Everything is flooded. The sewers are all backed up here. Certainly, a tremendous amount of rain has fallen, particularly during the last five -- five, six hours since around midnight Eastern Time here.
For a while, it looked as if -- at least in the last 30 minutes or so that -- you've seen my -- me out here all night. The wind and the rain seemed to have subsided just a little bit, but now it's kicking up again, but it's been -- it was worse earlier in the evening than it is right at this particular point in time.
CALLAWAY: You know, I just said to Rob I thought you were going to have a difficult time believing that.
Rob, I know you're standing by. When exactly can John expect to feel the brunt of the end of this storm?
MARCIANO: Well, he's at the southern half. Let's -- I don't know. Let's analyze this thing. Give me -- let's go forward and we can see what's happening.
Here's where John is. Here's where the back half is. So this is all going to move this way. Actually, the worst of the weather is going to be north of John up towards Fort Pierce, actually, and then up towards Melbourne because this -- this band right here is rotating in like this.
And what John is getting -- he's just getting -- he's not getting fed with moisture very much because his winds are coming off the land. That's why you don't see much -- as much rain over in this area, the western flank, as you do in the eastern flank because the eastern flank is still over the water. So John is still getting rain for sure, but it looks like he won't get it nearly as bad as the folks in Fort Pierce and then up the road towards -- towards Melbourne and to the west towards Lake Okeechobee. So he's had a rough go of it, John. I think he deserves a bit of a break, don't you?
Do you want a break, John?
ZARRELLA: Yes. You know, that would be nice. You know, I think going through this -- 10 hours of this thing is certainly equivalent to going through about four or five regular hurricanes that get in and get out in a hurry because this thing has just been on and on and on, but -- and, you know, I guess it -- it's certainly better that if you're going to take the pounding, it's from a Category 2 hurricane than, you know, from what this was a couple of days ago.
If you -- you know, you think that 140-mile-an-hour winds -- had this thing come in as a Category 4 hurricane and come in at five miles an hour, my goodness, the level of devastation would have just been absolutely unthinkable. So, to some degree, I guess the -- if you can look at it that way, put a little positive spin on it, the folks here in Florida, all of us, have really been very, very lucky and fortunate in that regard.
MARCIANO: Well, like Hurricane -- you remember Hurricane Andrew. That came in a lot of smaller but a lot tougher, a lot faster, too, John. They have a -- these things have a hard time staying at 4 and 5, as you know, talking with the guys at the Hurricane Center. They get over that water, they churn it up, and when they move this slow, thank goodness, it's tough to be a 4 or a 5 then.
ZARRELLA: Yes. You know...
MARCIANO: It's like a long-distance runner. It just keeps coming at you.
ZARRELLA: And, you know, one of the things that I -- I'd always heard, too, Rob, was you get those small little compact storms like Andrew -- and even like Charley, to a degree -- and they're smaller and they're more intense, and these big, broad, lumbering things -- the wind field in -- to a large degree is spread out over a larger area, and they really do have a harder time maintaining those 140s and 150s, and you get that -- the wind's just not quite as intense, but spread out over a much larger area.
MARCIANO: Well, speaking of the wind field, you may get a bit of a break from the rain, John, but I think you're still going to have to use that leaning technique because you're still so close to the eye. You're still going to be in the southern flank of that hurricane-force wind field, and you're not done just yet, pal. So hang tough.
GRIFFIN: We will...
ZARRELLA: Here it comes now!
CALLAWAY: Oh, there you go. GRIFFIN: Look at that. Look at that. All right, John.
We are going to get our next official update on this, I guess, Rob, at 7 a.m., but the last count was 100 miles an hour. Really does that surprise you? It was at 105 forever and now just down to 100. It's certainly not decreasing at any great rate.
MARCIANO: Well, it's not moving at any great rate. That's the problem. We were not all -- all of it's not over the land yet. So still half -- or now, I guess, about two-thirds of the eye is over land, and the last third, or the last back half, is still over the water, and that's where you're seeing this bright band. When this eye wall -- back of the eye wall gets over the land, then it really will be cut off from its moisture source, and that's when you'll see the intensity begin to decrease.
The way they work these advisories, guys, is they run them every -- the full advisory runs every six hours. I mean, that's when they slice and dice the atmosphere, analyze it up and down, and run their models and come out with an official forecast with a lengthy technical discussion, and we really know what they're thinking.
As these things get closer to land, they go every three hours, and that in-between, intermediate advisory is not nearly as thorough. It kind of just gives you an update for where it is, how strong it is, and where it's moving.
And then when they get on land like they're doing now, they come very two hours. So you're right. At 7 a.m., I believe, is the next advisory, and that may very well bring us a decrease in strength -- if not the 7 a.m., then maybe the 9 a.m. But we have to get this back wall on shore so that we cut off the fuel.
I mean, this is a great picture. Just step out of the way here. And you can just see the line where the coast is. From the coast east where the brighter colors are, that's where the heaviest rains are. You go west of that line inland, and you're cut off from the ocean. I mean -- and water temperature out here is 85 degrees easily. In some cases, warmer than that. So it is so easy to evaporate that water, pick it up, make a cloud, and dump that rain right back. So...
CALLAWAY: It was the back wall, though, of the storm that caused so many problems for the Bahamas.
MARCIANO: Yes. Yes, you're right about that. So we still have to go through that. We still have to get through that, and that will take the next several hours.
GRIFFIN: I wonder if we can put up the shot of WSVN very quickly. Just the live shot. I wonder if they can do that in the booth.
We had a viewer call in and ask what the conditions were in Fort Lauderale, and that's a picture of Fort Lauderdale live right now. We just saw actually some construction crews rolling through the streets there. It didn't look too bad. The palm trees all pretty much standing up. This is along the beach there, so we're looking out to shore.
But we had a worried mother...
CALLAWAY: That's right.
GRIFFIN: ... write us from British Columbia. And there's your live shot of Fort Lauderdale. I'm sorry we didn't have any more information about your son and his wife in Fort Lauderdale, but that is the live shot right now.
And we want to tell you about something that happened early Saturday morning. Sean Callebs was reporting on the Intercoastal Waterway when he saw this incredibly large yacht..
CALLAWAY: A multimillionaire-dollar yacht...
GRIFFIN: ... just breaking loose.
CALLAWAY: ... moving through the waterway, right, and he actually followed this to the end of the story, which was the -- well, let's watch and you'll see.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is not -- I have no idea -- this guy's got to have engine trouble or just lost control of it.
Probably -- or perhaps having engine trouble or simply not enough power to cope with the wind from Frances coming down this way, but this person doing a remarkable job of getting the craft into the position that it is.
You can see on the front a couple of anchor lines have been dangling down to allow this boat to slowly make it out. But look from the front. You can see a couple of gashes. Well, even with the best of efforts -- exactly. The best of efforts behind this thing. Simply, the storm's too powerful.
Now apparently trying to make another run back up the way carrying not only its anchors, but now also a pole from the yacht club. So this is -- this is quite a drama out here on the Intercoastal Waterway.
We haven't seen anybody out here trying to help. There are -- apparently, there are some people who are out in the hurricane who probably shouldn't be who have stopped to look at what's going on.
But you see on the bow with the flight jacket now reaching down in to try to get another rope to try and tie up. So they're doing everything they can -- clearly, these are very experienced people -- just to get this yacht in position to even tie up, and the weather out here -- the winds have really picked up.
It just drifts so quickly, but, apparently, they got tied off or anchors caught in the front, so maybe they're going to be able to maneuver their way in somewhat, and there's a walkway, if you look, on the stern. So, if they can get this tied off, maybe they'll be able to moor it as safely as possible.
And it's really pretty amazing that this situation didn't work out any worse than it did because this guy wasn't able to get control of this ship right through here. It had nowhere to go, except for the bridge.
That was an amazing job. How did you do that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you very much.
CALLEBS: We're here with Henny Heinman (ph), and you say that you were contracted to babysit through this -- this yacht through the storm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
CALLEBS: You got a little more than you bargained for, didn't you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I lost -- I lost a lot of systems, ended up with just one engine and no steering and no bow thruster, so I did what I could to anchor the (UNINTELLIGIBLE), did what I could to stick it in the hole here and try and save it as much as I could, keep it off the bridge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, did you tape us coming in?
TUCHMAN: Yes, we were -- saw the whole thing played out on CNN.
TUCHMAN: We saw the whole thing.
CALLAWAY: We just wonder how the yacht survived the storm.
GRIFFIN: Yes. You know, he's laughing now, but we'll see what happens in the morning.
Sunrise in Florida at 7:03. So we've got a little more than an hour or so to go.
But, hopefully, that boat is still tied up nice and tucked in there.
CALLAWAY: I think we're going to take a break, and we will continue our coverage of Hurricane Frances in just a moment.
CALLAWAY: We continue our coverage of Hurricane Frances. We're going to dip in quickly to hear a little bit of WSVN's coverage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... huge gashes, so -- and we're talking a massive yacht, compared to this small -- if you would call it a houseboat -- for him, it's a houseboat. You know, this is really nothing compared to the...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is his home. This is everything to him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. Exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, we're just getting information, and we've been talking to you about how, you know, people put their lives in danger to bring you, you know, the news, and not only, you know, news reporters, but police officers, people who are really in the line of fire sometimes for you, and we are just hearing that WPEC is off the air -- this is a station in Palm Beach -- because of Frances.
We have the opportunity to check in with Terry Anzur, a reporter for the station. She's not there now, fortunately.
I believe you're at the emergency operations center near you. Tell us what happened.
TERRY ANZUR, WPEC REPORTER: Well, let me start by telling you where I am. This is the emergency operations center, the nerve center for coordinating the response to Hurricane Frances here in Palm Beach County. It was built after Hurricane Andrew to withstand a Category 5 hurricane.
Now this is the place you want to be in a storm, and even though Frances was only probably a Category 2, the slow pace of this storm has really, really tested the limits of this building. It has thick concrete walls, and they go on lockdown, and, in front of the doors, they put a solid steel plate.
For the last couple of hours, the winds here have been so strong that it's rattling the steel plate and rattling the glass doors behind the steel plate. Just a few minutes ago, they opened the doors for the first time in a couple of hours, and I'm going to step out here. I don't know if my cell phone's going to pick this up, but the wind is just roaring along, like a jet engine, and it's clearly still a very dangerous situation.
They had hoped when the sun comes up to get officials out on the streets to begin assessing the damage and preparing for a visit from Governor Jeb Bush. The airport is nearby here. It has been closed since Friday afternoon. They were hoping to get out to the airport, make sure it's safe for the governor to come in, but, right now, the emergency crews can't even leave the building.
Palm Beach County Fire and Rescue, Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office are not responding to calls because it's too unsafe for the deputies and the fire and rescue crews to go outside. So we still have a very dangerous situation here.
And a couple of messages are coming out of this emergency center that they really want people to heed. First of all, don't even try to go outside, and, when the storm does let up, they don't want people out on the roads. They want the emergency crews to get out there. There are downed power lines everywhere. Palm Beach County is growing so fast. Any kind of new landscaping has basically been ripped out of the ground. So there are just tree limbs blocking roads. It's very, very unsafe out there.
And one more thing I want to point out. We are under a curfew here starting at 8:00 last night and continuing until 6:00 this morning. Part of the reason why that was imposed is that they caught three guys -- they're looking for a fourth -- who were burglarizing a home in (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
They had a high-speed chase down 95. They apprehended these guys. It turns out these suspects were from Miami-Dade County. They came up here to loot houses. So the sheriff...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My goodness.
ANZUR: ... Ed Felix (ph) declared a state of emergency, said there is zero tolerance for looters, and they do not want anybody coming up here to misbehave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terry, talk to us quickly. We just got word that your station -- part of the building had to evacuate because the situation was deteriorating there so bad. Have you been able to talk to anyone from your station?
ANZUR: Yes. I talked to them very briefly. Like I say, I feel very lucky to be in this building, and they're dealing with a lot of problems there. Last night, they began to feel that the front part of the building was not safe. There's a portico in the front of the building where the sales department is, and I believe that began to give way.
So they moved everybody into the back of the building where the newsroom is, where the control room is and where the studio is. And that is really a concrete bunker back there. I was anchoring on the air when the tornado came through last summer, and it's a pretty sturdy building in the back and it can withstand a lot.
So they moved everybody back there, and they stayed on the air all night until within the last hour, and, at that point, they have not been on the air. But everybody is OK as far as I know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So now what? Where are they going?
ANZUR: Well, they're still there, but the signal is gone. I think the people are fine. I think they're just very frustrated because we all want to do our jobs and help the community get through the storm.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow. I mean, you know, having you on the phone is sobering because really, in Miami-Dade County and even parts of Broward County, what we've seen so far from Frances has been nothing more than some rain and a couple of downed trees.
But the way you're describing this system, and, of course, the way our colleagues who are near you have been describing this system really just puts it all into perspective. It -- when you're saying that an EOC, an emergency operations center, and the steel plate on the door is shaking, we know that you mean business, you know.
ANZUR: Well, I'm having a hard time hearing you. I think I might be losing the signal on this cell phone, but it -- we -- I've been out on a couple of assessment visits with officials, including Congressman Mark Foley and fire and rescue officials. I was out driving around yesterday in some of the areas that your Miami viewers are going to be familiar with, out by Mara Lago, the estate that's owned by Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Intercoastal was whipped up into fierce waves that were crashing across the Southern Boulevard bridge, and it's downtown West Palm Beach where Clematis Street is, a very popular nightclub district.
Already yesterday afternoon, we were seeing awnings ripped off buildings. There's a lot of construction going on down there. A -- just a lot of debris flying around. And that was yesterday. And these winds have been hammering us all night long.
So they're pleading with people don't even think about getting on the roads. I was on the road maybe overnight a couple -- two hours ago, and there are downed power lines everywhere. That's why there are, you know, more than two-and-a-half million people without power right now.
So you may be sitting in Miami-Dade County, in Broward County saying, hey, it's not so bad. When the sun comes up, I think we're going to find a big disaster here and farther to our north in Indian River County, Saint Lucie County, and Martin County where they got more of a direct hit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Terry, you were also talking about...
GRIFFIN: Drew Griffin and Catherine Callaway back at CNN Center here in Atlanta.
One-point-six million people is the latest power outage from the power companies in Florida.
Let's bring in Orelon Sidney. She is in Orlando, which is seeing more of this storm as it moves across Florida -- Orelon.
SIDNEY: Yes, that's right. In fact, you can probably ask Rob Marciano when he comes back -- we're in that right front quadrant of the storm, and we're -- I think we're starting to get the beginning of what's going to be the worst here in Orlando.
We've had a pretty good -- a couple of pretty good wind gusts here. I'd estimate about 60 miles an hour. I heard what I thought was a sign going down about, what, 15 minutes ago. I can't really be sure because it's still dark. I can't really tell. And our photographer was telling us that it looked like we may actually see a tree that's in our vicinity. It looks like it's going to go over.
So this is generally what you would expect with that type of strength of wind. You're looking at -- here's one of those gusts now coming through. You're looking at probably some tree limbs down again. That's when I -- I'm concerned about power going out. Sign damage. Of course, unanchored mobile homes are just not the place to be right now.
But this is probably -- this is definitely the worst that we've seen so far. It's still very off and on, still very gusty. The rain's picked up a little bit, but I've taken a look at the radar trend, and it looks like we're starting to get probably a pretty steady rain here now for a couple or a few hours, and I think the winds will be picking up and gusting as well.
So I guess it's about 5:30, 5:45 by now. I would say that we'll be probably experiencing a lot of this throughout the early morning hours.
CALLAWAY: Let's bring Rob back in quickly.
Rob, disturbing report we just heard from one of our affiliates, and West Palm Beach winds must really be bad if we have affiliates off the air.
MARCIANO: Yes, I believe it. We saw John Zarrella getting blown around there again, and they may be getting a bit of a break from the rainfall, but the wind -- they're still -- I mean, here's the center, and hurricane-force winds go out to the South about 60 miles, into the North even farther than that.
So, even -- here it's getting closer to Orelon, and that's why she says the winds are -- seem to be picking up. Still, peak wind gusts of 58 miles an hour at last check, but the 6:00 numbers will just come in, and -- but here's this rain band. This is what Orelon's about to get into, some brighter-colored rolling in, and she knows how this works.
You get your extreme outer ring band and you get a bit of a break, and you get your next rain band and you get a smaller break, and then the breaks get smaller and smaller as they get in towards the core of this system. In Orlando, the weather will begin to deteriorate.
Orelon, I'm thinking probably in the next 20 minutes -- actually, this -- this isn't live data, so you may get it here in the next 10 minutes, a pretty good squall coming from your east to west, likely at about 40 miles an hour. So you're about to get hit with a pretty good dousing of rain and wind. We'll probably see those peak wind gusts maybe get over the 60-mile-an-hour mark.
What are you experiencing now? Are you still there?
SIDNEY: Yes, that wouldn't surprise me. That wouldn't surprise me one bit. It certainly is picking up quite a bit, and we've had such a lucky break here so far. We just really have experienced much from this storm at all since I've been here, which is about a little more than 24 hours.
So I do think that the morning hours here are probably going to be the worst of it, and, hopefully, the -- I know the storm's still moving fairly slowly and, hopefully, this will get out of here by later on in the morning, but definitely folks in Orlando need to stay inside because I know overnight it might have seemed like it was fairly benign, but the worst of the winds are coming in now.
And you don't want to be out on the sidewalks. You don't want to be -- you certainly don't want to be driving your car, especially if you have a high-profile vehicle. You do want to stay inside until these winds start to subside. My guess is sometime this afternoon and maybe as late as this evening.
CALLAWAY: OK, Orelon. Orelon Sidney in Orlando.
That's going to wrap it up for Drew and I. We have Bill Hemmer standing by and Betty Nguyen.
GRIFFIN: And thank you for joining us for this overnight version. Hurricane Frances coverage continues right here on CNN after this.
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