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Hurricane Dean: Category 2; Shuttle Endeavour Lands Today

Aired August 21, 2007 - 11:59   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Heidi Collins.
We are preempting "YOUR WORLD TODAY" to bring you live events on this August 21st. A lot going on, too.

Here's what's on the rundown.

Dean batters Mexico. The storm, the first Category 5 hurricane to hit North America in 15 years. We'll have the very latest on its path.

And Mexico's president -- that's him there on the right -- cutting a trip short to deal with Dean. His joint news conference with the U.S. and Canadian leaders coming up live in just a few minutes.

And the shuttle landing a day early because of Dean. Endeavour returns in 30 minutes. You'll see it live right here in the NEWSROOM.

Weaker, but still a destructive force. Hurricane Dean downgraded about an hour ago to Category 2. The storm came ashore on Mexico's Yucatan coast this morning as a rare Category 5 with 165-mile-an-hour winds.

Right now, with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles an hour, we're still talking about a major storm. The tropical system about the size of Texas. Though Dean has been downgraded, the other side of the Yucatan Peninsula, the western side, is still expected to get a big hit. And the storm could gain strength as it moves out over the open water.

Jacqui Jeras is joining us now with the very latest on the path.

And that's always the problem, Jacqui. As soon as a hurricane goes over water it picks up strength.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, absolutely. So we do expect it will regenerate itself a little bit. But still, you know, a Category 2 is nothing to sneeze at.

We have got winds at 105 miles per hour, and that in and of itself can cause some significant damage. The center of the storm now right about here, right in this neighborhood. It's about halfway across its trek of the Yucatan Peninsula.

So we're looking at maybe three to five hours that will still endure the center over land, and then we'll watch it emerge over the Bay of Campeche. It will probably be a borderline Category 1, Category 2 storm as it does that. But then it gets over the warm water.

That's the energy source. That's the heat engine for a hurricane. And once it gets there, we do expect it to intensify again.

And yes, this could become a major hurricane again. Maybe a Category 3 when it makes landfall. And we think that will happen probably midday tomorrow, say, in the neighborhood between, oh, maybe 10:00 and 1:00 Eastern Time.

Here you can see the forecast track. And it's still, you know, wide over the southern parts of the Bay of Campeche. We think it will be heading towards Tampico, possibly. But there's going to be a big difference on the impact of Dean when it gets to the Mexican mainland compared to the Yucatan Peninsula.

The Yucatan Peninsula is very, very flat. Where Dean made landfall, this was a very low population area here. So, hopefully, you know, people are going to survive OK out of this one. But what's going to happen over here, even though the winds won't be as extreme, the rainfall will likely be much, much heavier. And the reason being, the topography over here, and also a lot of populated cities in this area.

This is very mountainous here and the rainfall is enhanced. When the air gets pushed up the mountain, it can make the rainfall totals much heavier. We're talking five to 10 inches, with locally heavier amounts, up to 20 inches of rainfall. So landslides and mudslides will be of grave concern.

If you're tracking this at home, here are your numbers, 19 north, 89.6 west. Moving west at 20 miles per hour. So the forward speed has stayed the same.

And how much rain you get here within the path of Dean, too, is going to depend on how much this thing slows down. Now, one good thing though about mountains, is that they tend to tear apart the storm pretty quickly. You can see, we're going to be back down to tropical storm status, 60 miles per hour, about 12 hours or so, maybe less, after making landfall for the second time -- Heidi.

H. COLLINS: All right. Jacqui, still a lot going on. That is for certain. Appreciate that update.

Want to go live now to our Rob Marciano. He's riding out Dean in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico, and joining us now live.

Hey, Rob, the last time we checked in with you, you almost got hit by one of those huge waves behind you. You were estimating about a 20, 25-foot breaker.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, a couple of them came in, probably 20, 25 feet. They've been coming inland, you know, in sets. Kind of what a surfer would look for in California or Hawaii. This certainly at times looking more like the north shore or California during a big swell, coupled with class five or six rapids.

All right. Here's what's going on.

Still have the wind blowing in a little bit, still have the rain coming in a little bit. But it's really subsided.

Those two haven't really been the big story here across the Mayan Riviera. It's really been the storm surge, which has come right up to this, the third -- the last of three tiers of rock and land that kind of make their way down to the ocean.

You see the surf still behind me, there's a number of these cuts (ph) that kind of jut out. They're not supposed to jut out into the ocean. They're just on the beach.

Today they're in the ocean, or the Caribbean, I should say. And it's amazing to me. I mean, this storm has been downgraded, the winds have subside somewhat. But these waves are still rolling in, and that's pounding this coastline.

There's all sorts of debris coming in on the surf as well, from boards to glass things to random things from other docks and moorings that are just showing up on the shore here. So, you know, once everything gets -- simmers down later on today and really more so tomorrow, we'll be able to get a better judge as to what kind of damage Hurricane Dean brought to this part of the Yucatan.

But because we're about 100 or so miles away from the center, the hard-core wind, the most damage here looks like it's going to be from the pounding surf. And from what I've seen, from our vantage point, that's enough to do quite a bit of damage as far as dollar signs go.

So, once again, the hotel zone across the eastern shores of the Yucatan will be picking up the pieces after a major Category makes landfall. The last one to do that was Hurricane Wilma just two years ago. And they have just since then finished recuperating from that.

Heidi, back up to you.

H. COLLINS: All right, Rob. We know you're watching it closely for us. Thanks so much. We'll check back should anything erupt again from where you are.

Thank you.

And want to get to the Midwest, too, because it is a major day of cleanup there. After several days of devastating rains and deadly flooding, many roads are still closed and sidewalks now blanketed with mud. The flooding is also blamed for at least 20 deaths in Oklahoma, Texas and Minnesota.

A Minnesota man, in fact, is still missing. His car was found in a creek. Floodwaters are receding in southwestern Wisconsin. The region got several inches of rain over the weekend, turning quiet countryside into lakes.

Crops and houses under water. People who left their homes in a hurry, some through the roofs, could go back today. Some say they lost everything, though, in the flood. And more rain could be on the way.

When weather becomes the news, count on CNN to bring it to you first. And if you see severe weather happening in your area, send us an I-Report. Go to and click on "I-report" or type into your cell phone. You can share your photos or video with us that way.

Minutes from touchdown, space shuttle Endeavour barreling through the atmosphere right now as it returns to Earth.

Live to CNN's Miles O'Brien. He's at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Miles, the very latest is, yes, indeed, 12:32, looking good?


Take a look very quickly, if you would, at the live feed coming from NASA right now. Oh, we just lost it. But basically, what it will show you is that this space shuttle Endeavour is now over the South Pacific, hurling pretty much northward toward the Kennedy Space Center on a track that will take it across the isthmus and then all the way up across Cuba, the southern part of Florida, and then into the Kennedy Space Center.

Right now the orbiter is traveling at about 250,000 feet, 17,500 miles an hour. What they're doing right now, Heidi, to bleed off speed and energy, they do a series of steep S-turns like this, with the nose very high, a lot of heat beneath here.

These are the hottest parts, the leading edge of the wing and the nose cone. And we'll be watching very carefully to see if there's any damage to the aft section of the underbelly where that three and a half inch gash occurred about 50 -- 58 seconds.

Go back to NASA TV and we'll show you where they are if we could, because they just put that graphic back up.

If you look at the ground track, and if you look right where I'm going to circle it, right here, you'll see the space shuttle there. And this is obviously where it's headed.

Now, we've been talking all morning about Hurricane Dean, which is right here. And you might say, well, jeez, that seems kind of close. But you have to remember, they're going to be at 180,000 feet as they travel over the hurricane, well above any weather, and, thus, not a concern for the shuttle and crew. They'll get a spectacular view of that monstrous storm. Anyway, 12:32 is the landing time. The weather looks good here, the crew is in good shape. Haven't heard a single blip from anybody indicating any problems with the orbiter.

We will of course be following up to see if that gouge caused any damage. The engineers say, no, it won't cause any damage, but the proof will be in the pudding -- Heidi.

H. COLLINS: Yes, certainly.

Talk a little bit about that, though, if you would, Miles, because I think I was reading somewhere -- and of course I can't find it now, that this is sort of a design problem in that the shuttles are just plain getting old. And it's not something that is going to be completely redesigned, and you never really have to worry about those heat tiles ever again.

O'BRIEN: Well, here's the thing. I've got my model here to help you out. I'll do it real quickly.

It's a fundamental design flaw. You have the external fuel tank covered over with that foam to keep it insulated because super-cold liquid hydrogen and oxygen go in here. You need the insulation.

It breaks off. Well, look where the shuttle is, the orbiter.


O'BRIEN: The people are downstream of that. That's the fundamental flaw.

The follow-on vehicle, which they'll fly to the moon and maybe one day Mars if all goes well, the people will be on top of any insulation. So there won't be any worry about debris falling down and hurting the heat shield.

It's a fundamental design flaw that only became painfully evident in the case of Columbia. And since that time, they're doing everything they can to stop that foam from coming off.

H. COLLINS: Yes, certainly. I'm sure that they are.

All right, Miles. We'll be with you here shortly, about 20 minutes away or so. We know that you'll be watching real closely.

There's a live picture once again tracking the shuttle Endeavour. We're going to carry that.

One more time, I want to remind you, the actual time is supposed to be 12:32. We will be monitoring it and bring it to you just as soon as we can and as soon as it happens.

Also ahead, a monster storm on the move. Tracking Hurricane Dean. We are live along the storm's path.

The very latest coming up right after a break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

H. COLLINS: Want to show you some video now of what we're calling the Summit of the Three Amigos. Actually, I'm not sure we're calling it that, but I think kind of everybody is.

We're talking about President Bush, of course. You're looking at Mexican President Felipe Calderon, also with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. We heard from him a little bit earlier.

We've been monitoring this event. But something we did want you to hear, President Bush made some comments regarding Hurricane Dean. Let's go ahead and listen in.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I express my country's concerns for the citizens whose lives will be affected by Hurricane Dean. I respect the fact that President Calderon has decided to get back to Mexico as quickly as possible, in a safe way.

I want you to know that U.S. agencies are in close touch with proper Mexican authorities. And if you so desire help, we stand ready to help.


H. COLLINS: So there you have it. Felipe Calderon going to be leaving early from Canada to get back to his country, of course, and deal with sort of the aftermath of Hurricane Dean and what may be left to come, which is exactly what we'd like to talk about with Jacqui Jeras, who is standing by at the hurricane headquarters now to tell us the very latest of everything.

It's kind of exciting to look and see Category 2, but we're very aware that that could change.

JERAS: Yes, absolutely.

We don't think it will change too much more. It will weaken down, maybe borderline Category 2, Category 1, with winds around 95, maybe 100 miles per hour as it continues to weaken a little bit because it's moving over land.

You know, its energy source is that water, so once it moves over land it begins to weaken on down. But it's very flat surface here for it.

The center of circulation, right about here, so it's about halfway between Chetumal and Campeche, and we think maybe three to five hours from now that we'll be seeing this emerge back over the open water. It's still moving west, so the track is still exactly the same.

Sometimes as hurricanes move over land because of the friction we can see some wobbles and things, or maybe it might deviate just a little bit. But this is just really moving due west and expected to continue to do that.

Here's the Bay of Campeche. There you can see the cone of uncertainty, so still a little bit questionable as to exactly where it's going to be hitting, but we do think it will be somewhere maybe around Tampico or a little bit to the south of there. And best estimates for landfall will be between maybe 9:00 and noon-ish for tomorrow morning.

Now, this will be a completely different type of system. The impacts are going to be a lot different from the mainland here as to what happened over Yucatan. And a lot of it has to do with because this is very flat here. This is very mountainous here.

The mountains are going to make this more of a flood maker because it enhances the amount of rainfall. So water will be the biggest concern, along with landslides and mudslides.

The wind impact still strong. If this gets back up to a 3 before making landfall, wind will be an issue, but nothing compared to the 160 miles per hour where it made landfall in the Yucatan Peninsula. But really, where this ended up hitting, it spared Cancun and Cozumel really significantly.

This moved into a very unpopulated area. So if you have to -- really, you know, you hate to say, if you have to pick somewhere for this to hit, it was the best case scenario in terms of keeping the loss of life at a minimum.

So we'll track this closely, we'll get another update at 2:00 Eastern Time from the National Hurricane Center. Of course, we'll have lots of updates here from the hurricane headquarters between now and then.

H. COLLINS: OK, Jacqui. Thanks so much.

And the worst of Hurricane Dean is over in the popular tourist area of Cancun. That's some good news, too.

CNN National Correspondent Jason Carroll is there to give us the very latest.

Jason, what are you seeing now?


Well, what I'm looking at right now is what a lot of people are looking who ar coming out to survey the scene, and it's the surf which continues to pound this area of Cancun, and that's really the concern for this very popular resort community, is how much damage Hurricane Dean is going to do to the beaches here, which are continuing to erode away with this pounding surf.

Earlier today, Heidi, we had an opportunity just to sort of survey the area to see what kind of damage we could find. And didn't find a lot of major damage at all anywhere that we looked. Earlier this morning there was some minor flooding. We noticed some trees were down. Other than that, this area of Cancun really fared pretty well in terms of how it dealt with Hurricane Dean.

And what we're experiencing right now are still some high winds and high surf. But other than that, Hurricane Dean has pretty much moved on.

Some 20,000 residents -- tourists -- residents and tourists stayed behind in some areas, did not evacuate. Even did not evacuate when on Friday it appeared as if the storm was really going to track much closer to us.

Seventy thousand people did heed those warnings and evacuate. Some 20,000 stayed behind, either in hotels or in their homes.

In terms of how that fared, many of the hotels in the area were retrofitted, Heidi, after 2005. You remember when Hurricane Wilma swept through here and did a great deal of damage.

Many tough lessons were learned as a result of that. And the hotels were retrofitted. And, in fact, some hotels were rebuilt.

So, at this point, people are coming out to survey the damage. Not a lot of damage to look at. Hurricane Dean seems to have spared Cancun -- Heidi.

H. COLLINS: That is terrific.

All right. Jason Carroll reporting for us live from Cancun.

Meanwhile, Dean trims a day off the shuttle's trip. Endeavour heads home. We're going to cover the landing for you live, 12:32 Eastern. We'll have it live right here in the NEWSROOM.


H. COLLINS: Minutes from touchdown. Space shuttle Endeavour is returning to Earth.

We want to go live to CNN's Miles O'Brien at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

About 10 minutes away or so, Miles. And I know you have a special guest that you'll be talking with in just a few minutes.

O'BRIEN: Absolutely, Heidi.

Right now -- as a matter of fact, let's go right to NASA TV, just tell you where the shuttle is right now. The southern part of Florida, over the Everglades, is now hearing those distinctive double- thud sonic bombs as the space shuttle cruises over there.

If you lose the banner -- there you can see it, where that little red dot is at the end of the yellow line, making its way toward here very quickly right now. Past the period of peak heating. The crew of seven making their way to the Kennedy Space Center, where the weather is good right now. And we just got a call, interestingly, this little side note. For the first time ever, the satellite is using GPS, or satellite navigation capability, and they're now flying on those satellites.

They've never tried that before. They've always used a ground- based system called TechN (ph). And that's -- you know, for pilots, that's kind of interesting. You know, in the minutia for space wonks, so to speak.

Joining us now, somebody who cares a lot about that kind of stuff, is Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a space shuttle and pilot a space shuttle, a now retired astronaut.

Eileen, good to have you with us.

With the crew where they are night now, tell us what they're experiencing right now.

EILEEN COLLINS, FMR. ASTRONAUT: Well, this is a pretty exciting time for the crew.

What they're actually hearing and feeling, it's similar to being in a train. There's not a lot of vibration, but it's, you know, very mild. The sounds you hear, it's like you're in a train, but they're very excited about the upcoming landing.

They're coming down very steep, they're coming down very fast. The commander is thinking about his landing. He wants to put down a really, really nice touchdown. So he's thinking pretty far ahead of where he is right now.

O'BRIEN: You know, it's interesting. A lot of people don't know it, but Scott Kelly, this is his first time as commander. The first opportunity you have to fly the orbiter for real is for real. There's a lot of simulations.

Do you recall that first time, what that was like taking the stick for the first time just before landing at about 50,000 feet? Was it just like a simulator or was it different, as we take a look at Scott Kelly there on his second flight, first as commander.

H. COLLINS: Well, there are similarities and differences. But keep in mind, you are -- Scott is landing a multibillion-dollar spacecraft, so there's a lot of pressure on him. And he knows that the world is watching. So you want to do your very best.

You get one shot at it. You can't go around and try it again. So all the years of training are finally coming together for him in this. And he's got a little bit of a crosswind, so it's going to be a tough landing today.

O'BRIEN: Yes, this will keep you on your toes. And let's talk about this crosswind for just a moment. We've got to remind people, there's no go-arounds. As you said, it's a glider. And the shuttle itself is not the best in a crosswind situation, is it?

H. COLLINS: Well, the shuttle's designed to land up to 50 knots of crosswind. And you've got to be -- you've got to think in another dimension when you have a crosswind.

Normally, you're just landing straight ahead. But with a crosswind, you're going to be aiming at a little bit of a different direction. And sometimes you get a gust and you have got to be ready to counteract that.

You're landing at 205 miles an hour, and you're at least twice as fast as a commercial airliner, so things happen pretty quick. And he has got to be on his toes.

He's been up in space now for over two weeks, and he's been adapted to zero gravity. And now he's back in one unit of gravity. He will feel very, very hef and things aren't going to feel the same way they have over the past two weeks. So it will be tough.

O'BRIEN: We're seeing the first pictures -- long-range pictures.

And yes, he's been up there for two weeks. I imagine you get a little lightheaded and you have to have -- be really on your toes for this.

Also on board the space shuttle we have the pilot, Charlie Hobaugh. They call him "Scorch". And of course he's in the right hand seat beside Scott Kelly, assisting him with the landing. We're going to see a view from his seat in just a little bit with the heads up display.

Barbara Morgan, of course, the teacher-turned-astronaut, fulfilling the unfulfilled mission of Christa McAuliffe, some 21 years ago.

Along with her, Tracy Caldwell, mission specialist, Alvin Drew, Rick Mastracchio and Dave Williams rounding out the crew.

This mission was a successful mission by all accounts, Eileen. But a lot of people are thinking about that gouge in the aft underbelly.

Obviously, the shuttle has made it through peak heating, but what are your thoughts on that? If you were up there, would you have preferred they repaired it?

H. COLLINS: Well, I would have to put really my trust in the engineers. They have a fantastic group of engineers on the ground. They've been simulating these kinds of damages for -- well, since the Columbia accident, which has been almost five years now.

So they have ways to duplicate the damage on the ground, to do analysis, to put it in a test chamber which we call an ark jet facility. And they can actually apply the heat and stresses that that actual damage area would feel.

And that's been done and it's been determined that they don't need a repair. Although, after they land, I can tell you that several people -- several of the ground crew are going to go right to that spot and they're going to take a look and see just how it made it through the entry.

O'BRIEN: It will be interesting to see. Inside five minutes now to the landing. And obviously, a lot of focus will be put on that spot just to see what happens.

And the issue has always been not whether there'd be a catastrophic loss of the vehicle, but would it cause some damage to the skin, which might lengthen its time in the hangar? And that's important, too, because NASA's trying to fly so many missions before the shuttle program ends at the end of 2010.

H. COLLINS: Yes, that's right, Miles. We have three shuttles left to fly these missions over the next three years. We've got about 14 flights left in the shuttle program. And every one of them has to go just right to get the space station built by the end of this decade.

O'BRIEN: Let me -- you're talking about Scott Kelly there. He's been in space for two weeks.

What does a crew member do? Because there's an adaptation process. You're used to zero gravity, suddenly you're feeling the pull of gravity and you're trying to fly this vehicle. What do you do to guard against being light-headed, dizzy, anything you might associate being in space for that long?

H. COLLINS: Well, this is interesting, because not a lot of people know that we drink saltwater before we come back to Earth. You can imagine coming back in zero gravity. Your blood is being pulled down to -- you know, down to your feet. So you get very light-headed.

So, to counteract that, we drink saltwater. And you can put a little bit of sugar in it, or you can make it taste like chicken soup, but it still doesn't taste very good.

You have to drink this stuff, and it actually builds up your body's concentration of water. And it will help you not only land, have a little more about you when you land, but it will help you get out of the seat and walk around. And if there's an emergency after landing and you need to get up and out of there fast, you're going to need that extra hydration to help you get out.

O'BRIEN: We just heard the very distinctive double-cannon shot sonic boom. So the shuttle is not far away from here. Can't see it because of the light cloud cover here.

Pretty soon we'll be able to see what they're seeing on board. They have very specific speed and the angle at which they drop, which is very important to point out to people.

An airliner lands at about 150 miles an hour and comes in at about a three-degree glide slope. A shuttle does what, Eileen?

H. COLLINS: Well, the shuttle will be landing at over 200 miles an hour. And the glide slope is 20 degrees, which is very, very steep.

You're about seven degrees steeper than a commercial airliner. And the shuttle flies very, very nicely.

I think what Scott Kelly is seeing right now is that the shuttle flies a lot crisper and a lot more responsive than the training aircraft that we use. So I think he's going to be pleasantly surprised. This is his first landing in the shuttle. But I think he'll find it a very nice flying machine.

O'BRIEN: Those pictures of that head up display indicating on it the altitude, the speed, and when they say on at the 90, what do they mean by that, Eileen?

E. COLLINS: They're on energy. What the crew is interested in is, you know, this is your first attempt at landing so you can't land too short, can't land too long. You have to be right on altitude and right on air speed.

The combination is called energy. He's on energy at the 90; 90 degrees from which he's actually just at a 90-degree angle from turning on to final. He's probably seeing the runway right about now. And nice, clear view today of the runway.

And he'll be flying off of lights, they're called precision approach indicators. You want to have them red and white, showing your on-glide slope. You're following your microwave landing system. And then he'll transition to a ball bar light, which is on the runway and that will help him go to a three-degree glide slope and touch down like an airliner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One minute and 20 seconds to touchdown.

O'BRIEN: Let's listen to NASA for a moment as they get into the pre-flare area.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On path for the targeted landing at the Kennedy Space Center. One minute to touchdown. Endeavour's descent rate is 20 times higher and seven times steeper than a commercial airliner on this final approach to the Kennedy Space Center landing facility.

O'BRIEN: Why you taking the light down?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The landing gear is down and locked. Main gear touchdown. Nose gear touchdown. Pulling in the drive chute delayed to assess the conditions of the crosswinds on the orbiter as it rolls out on the runway.

O'BRIEN: There you see the Space Shuttle Endeavour having landed.

Eileen, it looked like a textbook crosswind landing from where I sat. What did you see?

E. COLLINS: It looked beautiful to me. I you were looking closely you could see that he touched down on one wheel first, and then the other one first, and any other one that shows it was a crosswind. They put the drag shoot out a little late, which they do in a cross wind. And right now the crew is feeling pretty darn good that they've had such a successful mission, but they're also feeling very heavy from the effects of gravity.

It will take them a little while to get assimilated to the Earth's gravity where they can get up and walk out of the shuttle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Real good job, Endeavour. Congratulations, welcome home. You've given a new meaning to higher education.

O'BRIEN: A new meaning to higher education. Barbara Morgan, of course, the teacher-turned-astronaut fulfilling the mission that began with Challenger.

As you look the infrared shot, by the way, it almost looks like a steam locomotive. That is the exhaust from the auxiliary power units, which power the control surfaces of the space shuttle as it comes in. It's actually kind of a little furnace that burns hydrozene. It's kind of a strange way to create electricity, isn't it? Or create that hydraulic pressure, isn't it Eileen?

E. COLLINS: Well, the hyrdrazine is needed, -- it actually powers the flight control systems, which are what is needed for entry. That's one of the systems NASA wants to upgrade. We had wanted to do in the past. If you can run them off the batteries instead of hydrozene, that's a lot safer. But like everybody else in the world we're waiting for battery technology to advance.

O'BRIEN: A 5.25 million mile journey ends for Space Shuttle Endeavour and her crew of seven. As Eileen pointed out it will be a little while before they come off the orbiter. They'll take a look at that gash and take a look at what happened there, but before they do that, you have to be very careful as the crew approaches the space shuttle because there's a lot of potential for toxic fumes to build up around it. It's a windy day which is good, Eileen, but they have to approach it sort of gingerly, don't they?

E. COLLINS: The ground crews will do a sniff test and they're going to make sure there's nothing leaking on the outside of the shuttle. There's actually a checklist that the ground crews need to go through. Eventually they'll be cleared to go in and eventually an astronaut will go in and a flight surgeon will go into the cockpit and they'll make sure the crew coming back from space is in good shape.

At that point the crew will come out one by one, and the ground astronaut will take over the shuttle and do all the switches and help reconfigure whatever needs to be done before the shuttle is taken back into the hangar. That takes several hours.

O'BRIEN: Yeah. As we look at a replay of that landing. As they come in, we can take a closer look here at what you are talking about with this crosswind landing. The wind was kind of hitting him on the left side here, as you look at this head-up display, the pilot's eye view. The goal there is to tilt it just a little into the wind, right?

E. COLLINS: You do want to -- we call it grabbing into the wind, just aim into the wind a little bit, that way you can keep the shuttle aligned right down the center line. Every pilot wants to land on the center line because it shows you made a good landing but it's also important to keep the control. The runway down at Kennedy is only 300 feet wide and there's a moat -- there's water on both sides of the runway. So it's very, very important that you keep the shuttle straight down the runway. That's why we have crosswind limits.

O'BRIEN: Yeah, a 300-foot runway is wide by commercial airliner standards but as you say, the fact it's surrounded by -- literally surrounded by alligators, you want to make sure you land it just so. Of course, you want that -- those pictures at the end to show that nose wheel right in the center line, don't you?

E. COLLINS: That's true. You know, every commander wants to put it right on the center line. It's kind of a nice way -- to like put the icing on the cake after a very successful mission, which is exactly what this crew has had. They've done a fantastic job. I'm proud of all of them. They're about ready to start on a new life.

You come back from a shuttle mission and all of a sudden your life completely changes. You've been training and training for so many years and now they'll be out on the road visiting people around the world and describing what we're doing in the space program and what we'll be doing in the future.

O'BRIEN: When you say changes, is it kind of a letdown after it's over, and do you wish you were back on the mission?

E. COLLINS: Well, one of the good things that we do -- you know, you always do wish you could go back and do the mission, at least that's the way I felt, because I loved being in space. It's such a wonderful, human feeling being in space and seeing the Earth from the perspective of the space shuttle and space station orbit. But when you come back to earth you have a responsibility to share your experience with people around the world.

So for about two months this crew is going to be on the road, doing public affairs. Barbara Morgan is probably going to be doing much more because she'll be in very high demand by students and teachers, and really everybody around the world. Eventually astronauts go back to a job, they'll do technical work, they'll support the upcoming missions, many of them will fly again.

So I think, you know, NASA keeps the astronauts very, very busy. So if there's any kind of a letdown, that could happen after the flight, I think that's counteracted by just keeping busy and staying really focused on the future.

O'BRIEN: Now, short-term right now, what are they doing right now inside there? How are they feeling? E. COLLINS: The commander and the pilot and the flight engineer, which are Kelly, Hobaugh and Mastracchio, they are very busy running check lists; they're securing systems, they're shutting down the jets, the hydraulic power units.

But the crew in the mid-deck, they can stand up. They can unstrap, take their helmets off, stand up, talk to each other. They're trying to get their Earth legs back. They're trying to get ready to walk off the shuttle and really get comfortable being back on Earth's gravity again. It will be probably 30 minutes or 40 minutes or so before the flight deck crew can get out.

O'BRIEN: Eileen Collins, shuttle commander, and now retired astronaut, kind of young to call you retired, but --

E. COLLINS: Well, thank you.

O'BRIEN: We'll use the term nonetheless. Always a pleasure. Thanks for talking us down, talking the shuttle down for us. It was a great landing. And it capped a good mission. We'll be watching closely to see -- I'm sure they're going right to that gash. Hopefully we'll have pictures and we'll see how it looks after the heat of reentry.

Eileen Collins, thank you very much. Let's go back to Heidi Collins, no relation, as far as I know, at the CNN Center.

H. COLLINS: No, I asked her last time I was able to chat with her. There's no relation. Miles, thanks for that. Eileen Collins as well. A terrific touchdown from the Shuttle Endeavour today.

Meanwhile, want to get back to our story we've been following here, that monster storm which is on the move, tracking Hurricane Dean. We are live along the storm's path.

And a quarterback runs out of room. Michael Vick makes a move that will likely send him to prison, copping a plea.

There's no recall but Wal-Mart has quietly stopped selling two kinds of dog treats. We'll tell you why.

And she left her sanctuary and left herself open to arrest. An immigration activist deported.


H. COLLINS: Weaker now, but still a destructive force. Hurricane Dean downgraded about an hour ago to Category 2. The storm came ashore on Mexico's Yucatan coast this morning as a rare Category 5 with 165-mile-an-hour winds. Right now with maximum sustained winds of 105 miles an hour, we're still talking about a major storm. Tropical system is about the size of Texas, though Dean has been downgraded, the other side of the Yucatan Peninsula is still expected to get a big hit.

The storm could gain strength as it moves out over the open water. Dean is on the move. We're tracking it all the way with our reporters everywhere along the storm's path. Jacqui Jeras is one of them, meteorologist, obviously, tracking this thing.

Jacqui, where does it look like it's gone now? It's almost through the Yucatan Peninsula.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, I would say three hours or so maybe, Heidi. And this thing should get off shore. You know, it's hard, you can see the eye so well, when this thing was a monster 5 right offshore. If you track, it it's right about in this neighborhood right here. So it's maybe two-thirds of the way across. The strongest of winds are now moving toward Campeche, they're experiencing tropical storm forces, sustained winds and probably going to see some and hurricane force wind gusts. That means 74-plus miles per hour. That can cause some damage there.

It's tough to get observations in here. This is pretty low population in the middle of the country here. Chetumal, we don't have any observations out of there any longer. We're getting reports out of Cancun that the winds have calmed down very significantly. Only 14 miles per hour, rather. Merida, Mexico is right up here and they're still experiencing 46-mile-per-hour sustained winds, so that's still tropical storm force strength and Campeche has not been reporting over the last couple of hours. So we don't know for sure how strong it is, but we think they could see the hurricane force gusts over the next three to five hours or so.

Then it will be over the open waters and we can see this thing generate back up, ramp back up because the waters are very warm here, 85, 86 degrees Fahrenheit. So it will probably ramp back up. It's possible it could be a Category 3 before making landfall. Category 3 is what we consider a major hurricane. That's three, four, five, so it is still going to be a big deal for these folks who live within this area. There's a lot of more people who live in this part of Mexico compared to the Yucatan and the big impact.

Besides the winds right near the center, as it's at its strongest will be rain, five to 10 inches, locally heavier amounts up to 20 because of the mountains, mud slides and land slides are a great possibility. It will weaken because of the mountain quickly and we'll be down to tropical storm status by Wednesday evening, and then eventually kind of fizzling out as it heads to central Mexico. This could be affecting Mexico City, too, which is the capital there -- Heidi.

H. COLLINS: Yeah, we're talking about a lot more population, obviously. Jacqui Jeras, thanks for that.

Remember, when news -- excuse me. When weather becomes the news, you can count on CNN to bring it to you first. If you see severe weather happening in your area, send us an i-Report. Just go to and click on i-Report or type into your cell phone and share your video with us.

Star quarterback's fall from grace. Mike Vick's attorney says Vick will plead guilty to federal dog fighting charges. Details of the deal will come out when he appears in court next Monday. Vick is almost certain to face prison time. Atlanta Falcons' owner Arthur Blank wouldn't comment on Vick's future with the team, but he told the NFL Network he wasn't surprised by Vick's decision.


ARTHUR BLANK, OWNER, ATLATNA FALCONS: From a personal standpoint I think he's doing the right thing. That's been my counsel to him quite some while ago, and publicly as well, to you know, get this behind him as quickly as he can and take responsibility for whatever he did. And whatever he did leads to professional side. We have not seen the statement of facts.


H. COLLINS: Still ahead today, miners trapped. Experts say it's too risky to resume the underground rescue in Utah, but miners' families argue the company is giving up.

And search ends, recovery teams find the remains of the last missing person in the Minneapolis bridge collapse.


H. COLLINS: In Minnesota the last body found. Remains of the one person still missing in the bridge collapse have been recovered. Officials identify him as Gregory Jolstad, a member of the construction crew working on the bridge when it fell; 13 people died in the collapse three weeks ago.

A mother deported, her son left behind. Supporters call her an immigration pioneer. Others call her a law breaker. CNN's Carol Costello reports.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There is anger in Chicago, protesters gathering outside of the U.N. Immigration Office calling agents unfair, cruel for arresting Elvira Arellano, an illegal immigrant they call her their Rosa Parks.

EMMA LOZANO, PRO-IMMIGRATION ACTIVIST: We should praise her. Rosa Parks was praised for defying broken law, and we should praise her, and respect her and admire her for what she's doing as well.

COSTELLO: Arellano who entered the United States illegally twice, had been holed up along with her eight-year-old son in this Chicago church since 2006 to avoid deportation. Last week she left her sanctuary to drum up support for immigration reform. Authorities found her in Los Angeles. She was arrested and cuffed in front of her sobbing eight-year-old son and then deported. Activists Emma Lozano was with her at the time.

LOZANO: They were yelling at us. It was 15 agents, they surrounded us. It was so exaggerated like as if they were arresting bin Laden. COSTELLO: But Immigration officials say Arellano's arrest was done by the book. And tell us, "ICE coordinated closely with representatives from the Mexican consulate to ensure Arellano's safety during the evening repatriation."

Arellano's actions have made her a polarizing figure. Although many in the Latino community support her, many do not. Some cite her use of her little boy to fight for her causes


COSTELLO: Saul, who was born here and is a U.S. citizen, spoke at an immigration reform really on Saturday. And they did not like her using the church to escape deportation.

JAVIER SALAS, UNIVISION RADIO TALK HOST: I don't agree with the strategy she has because I think she's bringing more negative stuff to the Latino community.

COSTELLO: Arellano who is now believed to be in Tijuana vows to continue her fight. In the meantime, her child has been left with her friends.

(On camera): Immigration police have stepped up their effort to deport illegal immigrants, telling us in the last 10 months they've deported 220,000 people. Carol Costello, CNN, Washington.


H. COLLINS: There's no recall but Wal-Mart has quietly stopped selling two kinds of dog treats. We'll tell you why.


H. COLLINS: Wal-Mart has quietly stopped selling two kinds of dog treats, chicken jerky and chicken jerky strips. The Associated Press reports the treats were pulled from store shelves back in July. There's been no recall but Wal-Mart tells the AP it is testing products that were imported from China. Some customers complained the treats made their dogs sick.

You might remember there was a massive pet food recall in March. Retailers yanking products made in China that included the chemical Melamine.

The CNN NEWSROOM continues after the break, with Kyra Phillips and Don Lemon. Among the stories they're going to be following throughout the afternoon, of course, a massive storm and major impact, Hurricane Dean, slams into Mexico. The latest developments live from the storm's path. This is CNN your hurricane headquarters.

And miners trapped, experts say it's too risky to resume the underground rescue in Utah. But miners' families argue the company is giving up.

Have a good day, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins. I'll see you tomorrow.