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Americans Dead in Egypt Accident; Blizzard Hits the East Coast; Travel Delays due to Severe Weather
Aired December 26, 2010 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. Travelers are on edge as a storm system intensifies along the eastern seaboard. Some cities have already declared snow emergencies. Take a look. Live pictures from New York and Providence as well. Just two of the cities being shut down by this winter storm. La Guardia on the left hand side, Providence, Rhode Island there on the right hand snow. Lots of snow out there.
So for many of you planning to fly in or out of the northeast, it's simply not looking good. American Airlines has already canceled more than 260 flights through the northeast corridor. Continental more than 250 flights canceled and look at how many flights Delta has already canceled. 850.
Meteorologist Bonnie Schneider in the weather center. It is just getting started in some parts and it seems like it's intensifying by the minute.
BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely, it is. I just checked the latest observations. Atlantic City, New Jersey has over four inches of snow. And the brunt of the storm has yet to pound the Jersey shore, so brace yourself. This is a very serious and dangerous situation. If you don't have to travel even if you do have to travel, it's vital not too because when you're looking at a blizzard, it's not an ordinary storm.
There are specific classifications for blizzard. The storm has to last for at least three hours or more. Visibility has to be less than a quarter of a mile plus we also have to have heavy snow. And the winds have to be stronger than 35 miles per hour. Put that all together and you get a mass that you're seeing right here with heavy snow across the New York City area.
Some of the accumulations will be lighter as we look towards Washington, D.C. but even having said that, the advisories continued to be posted for blizzard warnings as we go into the evening hours and then high wind advisories will persist as we into the afternoon hours even tomorrow.
What that means is you will find blowing and drifting snow, particularly here on Long Island. Some of those snow drifts could get as high as three feet. Three feet of snow. Hopefully that won't block your car but I think we're going to have a lot of problems even on Monday, you know, getting out. All right. So the blizzard warning persists also for the Boston area. The visibility in Boston right now is at about three quarters of a mile so it's not as bad as it will be. Again the storm is still working its way in that region and the winds, you can see some of them have really intensified. These are sustained winds. Gusts will be as intense particularly the closer to the shore line, it's 50 to 60 miles per hour. That's almost hurricane force. Plus, we'll be looking at sudden bursts of snow where you may have things calm down a bit and then all of a sudden it starts snowing heavy and hard.
I want to mention the south because many places like Atlanta saw a white Christmas yesterday with a little over an inch recorded in the city. There is some snow falling across the south. It will accumulate a bit in the Nashville area. But once you start heading further south of that, we're really just looking at flurries. But again it will impact travel, I think people are going to want to stay inside just because we had so much snow yesterday.
Now looking at the forecast, the blizzard conditions will persist as I mentioned through the evening hours, but then when we get to tomorrow. That low will pull a little further north. Quick airport delays, a ground stop obviously at JFK, so many cancellations. We'll talk more about that in a little bit.
WHITFIELD: All right. We will indeed. We got a few experts on hand, including our own reporters who are at the ready as well. Thanks so much, Bonnie Schneider. Appreciate that.
So let's talk a little bit more about this big winter storm already disrupting a whole lot of travel plans for thousands of people who had tickets for this day after Christmas. Remember a lot of folks had tickets for the day of Christmas and their flights were canceled. Well, now, here we go again.
Our senior correspondent Allan Chernoff is at New York's La Guardia Airport where it is sticking behind you. The snow is coming down and I imagine a lot of travelers are a little frustrated because after 3:00 lots of cancellations?
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. This airport as you can see is pretty much clearing out. Very few people in the terminal right now, what would have been one of the busiest travel days of the year has now become a sit and wait day for many. And for the people who are inside it's a day for trying to figure out what when they can get on to a flight that will get out of here.
For most folks that means sometime tomorrow afternoon time, in fact. One gentleman told me he's on a flight now that won't get him home to Houston until 8:00 p.m., too late, but you know what there's not much he can do. We spoke to a couple vacationing here. They had been vacationing here. They live in Brazil and they are trying to get home. Their flight to Miami where they were going to fly to Brazil from, that flight was canceled. So now they're stuck here in New York, but they're not totally disappointed. Let's have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHERNOFF (on camera): It's looking like you may get a few more days in New York.
CAROLINA CLARO, STRANDED AT LAGUARDIA: Yes, it would be good, anyway. Sorry, boss, we won't make it.
CHERNOFF: You're not upset about this?
CLARO: Not really. But don't tell him, please.
CHERNOFF: You're glad to be here?
CLARO: Yes. For us, it's good weather because back in Brazil its very hot, and we don't get to see snow every day. So it's nice. It's nice to be here.
CHERNOFF: Of course, what the airlines are doing here is they're not trying to give people an extra vacation in New York City. They're trying to make sure that their planes are in position once this storm ends. So they want the planes out of New York, out of Boston, out of Philly, and then they will bring them back in as soon as the storm ends tomorrow. That's why so many flights were canceled well in advance, and hopefully most travelers got word of that. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Yes, no kidding. I feel sorry for travelers who were there at the airport. Because I wonder, Allan, I don't know if you know. Do a lot of the travelers who happen to be in the airport and it seems like they're not getting out for a day or two, does the airline put them up, or are they on their own? Do they end up sleeping in the concourses? What are their options?
CHERNOFF: Well, you know, when they give a big, advance notice the airlines I don't think are on the hook. That's one reason that they want to give that advance notice. They want to save money, not have to put people up. And they also don't want to get fined by the FAA. If people are stuck on the tarmac for more than three hours, these days the airlines will get a fine. So that's why they have all this advanced planning. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: Allan Chernoff, thanks so much, at La Guardia. I appreciate that. Of course, there are a couple other airports in that general vicinity that are going to be impacted by what's taking place.
Steve Coleman is actually on the phone just right now. He's a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Tell me about the other two area airports, we're talking about JFK just down the street from La Guardia and Newark out of New Jersey. First, let's begin with JFK, what's happening there? Or not happened?
STEVE COLEMAN, SPOKESMAN, PORT AUTHORITY (ON THE PHONE): I think you're seeing pretty much the same scene at JFK that you're seeing at La Guardia, which is very, very limited flight traffic, if any. I think most of the airlines by this point canceled flights for the rest of the day. They will probably going to be canceling flights tomorrow morning based on the forecast that we're hearing, but we're going to have crews out there working throughout the night, to keep the runaways intact. We'll try to get the airport back in normal operation as soon as we can.
WHITFIELD: So at Newark as well the general feeling is airlines have given people sufficient notice to know whether they need to be on their way to the airport or just simply stay put?
COLEMAN: Yes, absolutely. I think we're seeing very few stranded passengers at Newark. We are seeing some at JFK and we're preparing to help them out as best we can. We're bringing in cots and blankets and things to make them comfortable if they have to spend the night at JFK. But I think for the most part people have heeded the warnings and they stayed home. They stayed put and hopefully they will ride it out until the airports and the air traffic gets functioning again.
WHITFIELD: All right. And I guess, you know, for bus travel as well, since we know that Amtrak had some interruptions along the northeast corridor, what about the buses operating there out of the Newark area?
COLEMAN: Right now, we're seeing a lot of the long haul carriers, the (INAUDIBLE) Peter Pan, those canceling service out of the Port Authority bus terminal. New Jersey transit is continuing to run, at least to my knowledge, but that could change, you know, momentarily. So I think people should not only call the air carriers but call their bus carriers as well if they're planning to travel anytime tonight or anytime tomorrow morning early.
WHITFIELD: Great advice. Steve Coleman with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Appreciate your time. All the best over the next couple of days and hours, I guess, for starters.
All right. Well, how different is the scene at the airports around the nation's capital. Let's get a quick look if we can from Kate Bolduan at Reagan National Airport. We know that earlier you didn't have a whole lot of company there in the airport. Apparently a lot of travelers got the word but what's the situation on the ground? What about that snowfall? Is there any yet?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fredricka. It continues to be quiet here at Reagan National Airport, and that is pretty much kind of a similar situation. The reason being that you heard from Allan Chernoff in New York, it seems a lot of passengers got early notification from their airlines of weather delays and cancellations because there really are very surprisingly short lines here and surprisingly few people in this airport, which would normally be very busy, this being one of the busiest travel days of the holiday season.
But you take a look at the monitors and you see exactly why. You see really cancellations across all of the major carriers in many, many cities, just to name a few. This won't surprise you at this point. We're seeing wide cancellations to and from New York, Providence, Newark, Raleigh and Nashville just to name a few. And while there is, you simply get a sense of frustration from some passengers when they arrive here at Reagan National Airport, not seeing really any snow accumulation on the ground at all, and still seeing a cancellation or a delay with their flight most passengers traveling out of D.C. are really taking this in stride.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought it was going to be a total disaster, that it was going to be such a long wait and crazy lines, which is why I'm here five hours in advance with three children. There's nobody here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My first flight got to D.C. OK but then my second one to JFK was canceled. And I learned from the United representatives that everything was being canceled to New York. So I tried to find some other ways out of there, and my next thought was to go on the train.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That person was able to grab one of the few unclaimed seats on the trains leaving Washington, D.C. as Amtrak says that many of the trains have been booked for days. No surprise. This is a very busy travel time, but Amtrak in this region has been forced to cancel some trains south of D.C. into parts of Virginia.
By and large again, we're not really seeing, we are seeing some snowfall. I described it as a flurry. Not really any accumulations on the ground at the moment, Fredricka, but it really seems that Reagan National Airport as well as surrounding airports at least for now seemed to be the victims of the trickle-down effect of the web of air travel across the country at the moment. We'll see how things change throughout the day.
WHITFIELD: All right. Kate Bolduan, thanks so much at Reagan Airport there in Washington, D.C. area.
So what in general are your options if your flight is canceled? Earlier I got some advice from travel expert Peter Greenberg.
PETER GREENBERG, TRAVEL EDITOR, CBS NEWS (ON THE PHONE): Well, the first thing you have to do is understand that the departure boards at the airports don't tell the truth. They haven't told the truth in years. They only reflect what's scheduled to leave on time. The really key is where your plane, your actual aircraft is. It has nothing to do with the weather where you are. It has to do with the weather where the airplane is coming to get you. If you don't have that the understanding, then you're never going to leave the airport, then you might as well never even leave home.
WHITFIELD: What's your best advice on how people try to plan ahead?
GREENBERG: Well, the airlines have done a pretty good job in giving people refunds and letting them book without penalty or a fee. The real problem here is you talk about being on hold for that period of time. Remember, we don't live in the world today of airlines anymore. We live in the world of alliances, there's the One World Alliance which is American Airlines, people know that and a number of partner. We have a bigger alliance called Star Alliance that United and U.S. Air are part of.
If you're getting on the phone and getting put on hold at your primary carrier, my advice is to call the other carriers that are part of that alliance because they're co-chaired on the same flight number that you're on and they'll give you the best information.
WHITFIELD: All right. Peter Greenberg there. Stay with us. In a few minutes, our own tech guru Josh Levs will be here to help you navigate some of the best web sites to try and check about the roads and the runways, what those conditions are like and that if you'll be able to get to where you want to go.
In the meantime, a trip to a popular tourist attraction in Egypt takes a tragic turn with Americans killed and injured.
WHITFIELD: A tour bus crash in southern Egypt has killed eight Americans. It happened near Aswan, as the bus was carrying passengers to a popular tourist attraction. The country's interior ministry says the Americans died when their tour bus collided with a dump truck. The injured have been taken to area hospitals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. BAHAA EL DIAN ZIAD, NASSER INSTITUTE HOSPITAL: We have received 12 cases that have arrived since one hour. There are two case that needs to be admitted in the ICU. Both cases have been managed, and they are clinically stable. They are fully conscious, and no problem for them. We are waiting for them to complete our investigation and surgical intervention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Christine Theodorou is a CNN producer who is vacationing in the area there in Egypt. She joins us now by phone. So Christine, what more can you tell us about the Americans who are injured and killed and how their family members are being notified?
CHRISTINE THEODOROU, CNN PRODUCER (ON THE PHONE): As you mentioned in your introduction, eight American tourists killed. They were part of a tour group. A bus was carrying 37 of them, and 19 of which were injured, four severely, and including the Egyptian bus driver and tour guide and you just ran us some sound from the doctor who described the exact status of their cases.
Now the injured are going to receive military transportation to Cairo, and the U.S. embassy has mobilized staff to identify and assist those Americans involved. They've said in a statement they're deeply saddened by the accident, but at this point, the exact cause of the crash may have been attributed to excessive speed. It's still under investigation, that hasn't been confirmed yet. Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And so give me an idea about the potential dangers that come with some of the these tour buses, because I understand there's a pretty alarming statistic involving fatal or at least dangerous crashes on these buses.
THEODOROU: Yes, that is correct. There's a marked increase in tourists killed in bus-related incidents in recent years. Although inner city roads are generally in a good condition, in a remote location, the conditions can be hazardous and as a result deadly. Egypt has one of the highest rates of road fatalities per mile.
WHITFIELD: All right. Christine Theodorou, thank so much. A CNN producer who happened to be vacationing not far from where this accident took place there in Egypt. That's for the update.
And this out of India.
A rocket carrying communications equipment into space exploded shortly after take-off yesterday. It was unmanned, and it strayed from its path before breaking into pieces. It's not known what caused the failure but it's a setback to India's space program.
And if you ever wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life, well imagine living in a town with a population of just you.
WHITFIELD: I think you'll like this story coming up. A rare find in the cellar. We're talking about a bottle of wine now way price tag of $30,000. We'll explain in the "Chat Room" coming up with Bonnie Schneider.
But first a look at today's top stories.
The holiday trip home could get messy today. Blizzard warnings are in place for parts of the northeast. Roads and highways are slick or frozen and hundreds of flight have been canceled as well.
And sad news about the man who brought us an inside look at the triumphs and dedication of Olympic athletes, documentary filmmaker Bud Greenspan has died from complications of Parkinson's disease. He was 84. Greenspan won an Emmy for the films about the Olympics and their star athletes. The head of the U.S. Olympic Committee calls Greenspan's death, "the loss of a giant."
And on a much lighter note, Hugh Hefner is off the market, ladies, again. The 84-year-old founder of Playboy is engaged. His fiancee is a former playmate, 24-year-old Crystal Harris. This will be Hefner's third walk down the aisle. His first was more than half a century ago. Well, who is counting the numbers? Who cares, right? Number three. Third time may be a charm. I don't know for Hugh. Hey, time for a little chat room now with our Bonnie Schneider. Good to see you.
SCHNEIDER: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: No comment on that one, hey?
SCHNEIDER: You said third time is the charm.
WHITFIELD: Yes, that's right. We wish them the best.
We got a lot of interesting stuff here, including what it's like to be the lone, I guess, resident of a tiny town.
SCHNEIDER: Right. You know, in Buford, Wyoming, it's a town of one. You drive through town by a sign that says population 30 but this is population, one. And the town is located between Laramie and Cheyenne and Don Salmons is the only resident. He runs the Buford Trading Post Convenience Store and gas station.
WHITFIELD: And guess what, I have been there.
WHITFIELD: Yes, I have.
SCHNEIDER: Do you remember him?
WHITFIELD: I don't remember him, but I remember that little general store. I was traveling between Laramie and Cheyenne, and it was a great little country town and not far down the street people from that little country store, people are literally, you know, riding their horses to a little town where you can have breakfast and they got the hitching posts and everything. It's like a throwback, but it's beautiful.
SCHNEIDER: So it's a tourist attraction. But if you're in Buford, chances are, if you saw anybody there, that was him.
WHITFIELD: That was him.
That's the part I don't remember. I don't remember the people or person involved, but I remember the place.
SCHNEIDER: And it's interesting how he ended up there by himself, because he moved in 1980 with his wife and son. Unfortunately his wife passed away in 1995. His son moved away three years ago, and as far as Don knows he's the only person with that town with the zip code. I guess, the son said, you know, it's time move on dad. There's just the two of us here.
WHITFIELD: All right. That's a cool existence, I guess, maybe lonely or maybe blissful. It depends on how you look at it, I guess, right.
Well, I guess, let's talk about - do you like wine? A good wine?
SCHNEIDER: Of course.
WHITFIELD: So $30,000, to invest $30,000 on a very rare, old bottle of wine. Is it something that you would do? I wonder with that price tag, does that guarantee it tastes really good?
SCHNEIDER: It would definitely deter me from purchasing it. But you know, a Tampa area steakhouse made the rare find in their wine cellar, a bottle of Chateau Latuer (ph) from 1947. A double magnum is a big deal. It's expected to go on sale next month, and it was a burned steakhouse known for its wine collection.
SCHNEIDER: You know, the man that founded it (INAUDIBLE) said it was on its side and he didn't realized what it was. It stayed perfect because it was a larger quantity at it was the perfect temperature.
WHITFIELD: I wonder how you come up with that price, though? You know what's the equation that you adhere to say, OK, this one, 1947, value, $30,000 and will anyone buy it.
SCHNEIDER: And what would it taste like? I bet somebody will buy it.
WHITFIELD: Yes. But I wonder do you keep that corked? You invest $30,000, and do you really want to ever open it and even taste it. Because you might be disappointed.
SCHNEIDER: That's true. You just lost 30,000.
WHITFIELD: Exactly. All right. What else is coming up here? This another sighting, I guess, of Jesus. This time in a Pistachio nut. What do you think?
SCHNEIDER: I guess I could sort of see it.
WHITFIELD: I can see a face.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, usually you don't look at the nut after you shell it. You just toss it.
SCHNEIDER: This is an Ohio woman who says she saw the face of Jesus in the nut. Michelle (INAUDIBLE) was eating the nut and a co-worker brought it in. She plans to preserve the nut and put on her Facebook. You know, I looked for her on Facebook. I was trying to find that picture. I didn't see it.
WHITFIELD: All these interesting finds, sometimes - I remember the Cinnabon, you know, once upon a time when things - when people thought they saw Mary in the Cinnabon and they've see in the hard candy. We have seen it in these sort of interesting items. I haven't seen it, but people have seen it. We've reported on it.
SCHNEIDER: It's this time of year.
WHITFIELD: Very fascinating stuff and now a pistachio nut.
SCHNEIDER: That's true.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Bonnie.
We're going to check back with you because this weather is pretty crazy. You predicted it would happen. I was a non-believer yesterday, and I'm very much a believer right now.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, it was a white Christmas in Atlanta, and now there's a blizzard in the northeast. We'll talk more about that coming up.
WHITFIELD: Perfect. We'll look for that.
WHITFIELD: On this day after Christmas, lots of headaches for travelers trying to return home. Take a look at LaGuardia on the left. Look at the snowfall there. Providence, Rhode Island, blizzard warnings throughout the northeast actually have brought a lot of cities to a standstill. Two major cities, Boston and Philadelphia, have already declared snow emergencies. And three major airlines, Delta, Continental and American have canceled more than 1,000 flights combined.
So check with your airline to find out if you are indeed trying to fly out today or maybe even tomorrow, because there are still some possible notifications later on today on tomorrow's travel. Meteorologist Bonnie Schneider here and look those are all the planes in the air, despite the fact that over 1,000 have been canceled.
BONNIE SCHNEIDER, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Isn't that amazing? Still a lot of people are trying to get home you know it's the day after Christmas and you want to get back. Flights are running on time I would say the further west you would go, but a lot of cancellations and certainly a lot of delays even have delays down in Florida kind of unrelated to the storm but it is just something to keep in mind if you are going to pick someone up at the airport.
All right. Let's get right to this blizzard, because it is huge. Remember, a blizzard means we have visibility less than three quarters of a mile, heavy snow, blowing and drifting at times and strong winds over 35 miles per hour. These conditions must last three hours hour or more and they will. Right now we are getting reports of heavy snow at LaGuardia Airport, heavy snow in Providence, Rhode Island and lighter snow in Boston. But it is all coming your way.
Remember the storm is working its way up the coast, and the further you live east the more you are going to see intense wind. That's been very true for the Jersey Shore. We are seeing already about 4 inches of snow on the ground in Atlantic City, but notice some changes in the forecast from yesterday to today. Depending on the track of the storm, every mile counts, so Washington and Baltimore is out of the winter weather advisories. Some of the counties a little bit further east are included. But the cities themselves are out of the advisory. We're not looking at the heavy snowfall as we were yesterday, and really that's what is so fascinating about a nor'easter. A little shift in the track could make a big difference.
So you see the wrap-around effect? That means that we are seeing snow showers and maybe even another inch of snow in places like Nashville, Tennessee, as we get snow showers and flurries to the south. Further south I'm not expecting accumulations. I want to show you the intense wind and notice what's happening here. This is the Cape and beyond, we have Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and you can see kind of that warm air trying to come in and change over to rain. But no it's going to be mostly snow mixing in with sleet at times for the Cape and the islands.
But also here the brighter white right now indicates some of the heaviest snow bands are just beginning to come through, and they are intense. You may even hear the rumble of thunder outside with the intensity of this storm. That's thunder snow more than possible when you have snowfall coming in at 1 to 2 inches an hour, plus the battering of the wind, blowing and drifting snow. We could see tomorrow morning waking up with three feet of snow on the ground, and that's because the wind shifted all that snow.
Some of the advisories as I mentioned continue as far south as Huntsville, Alabama. You saw a few inches of snow yesterday and the temperatures tonight in Atlanta where we had an inch of snow, a little over an inch of snow in the city itself making our first white Christmas with snow accumulating, first time since 1882. All right. So this is what you need to know here in the south, the temperatures are below freezing and they will stay that way. Watch out for icy areas. The National Weather Service employee reported snow flurries as far south as Jacksonville, Florida, earlier this morning. That is how you know this storm is intense.
We've been talking about cancellations. Now there's a ground stop at New York's JFK Airport. In terms of what we can expect for accumulating snow for the next 24 to 48 hours, you can see the heaviest snow is further to the east. D.C. out of that heavy snow band and some really intense snowfall more to the south actually in parts of Maryland and Delaware. It's been a fascinating storm to track, but still a dangerous one tonight, into tomorrow, and even tomorrow afternoon the wind will keep blowing.
WHITFIELD: You're teaching us a lot. I heard something I never heard before, thunder snow.
SCHNEIDER: Oh we will talk all about that.
WHITFIELD: I can't to hear more about that. Thanks so much, Bonnie Schneider. Appreciate that.
All right. Well it's not a good day as you can tell to be flying in or out of the northeast. Hundreds of flights being canceled, up to 1,000 as I mentioned in that region getting ready for this big storm. Take a look at the numbers right there in the break down, American Airlines canceling 262 flights, Continental 250 flights, Delta 850 flights from the Carolinas throughout the northeast canceled for today. So if you are traveling this weekend or perhaps maybe as early as tomorrow, there are lots of great websites where you can get up-to-the minute information on the conditions, whether you will be going anywhere or staying put.
Josh Levs has been checking out all of these. So Josh this can be a very frustrating time because you got hundreds of people, thousands of people at one time trying to get the same kind of information. Can't always get it on the phone.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're getting all sorts of stories of people trying to get through to airlines and being on hold for an incredibly long time. This is fluid; it keeps changes throughout the day. And what I am going to do now is I will show you some websites that can help you. Unfortunately, they don't do all the magic I want them to do which is to tell you absolutely everything about your flights so you don't have to jam up those lines.
As things change a lot of the airlines, airports can't get everything online right away. But there are some websites that give you a giant leap forward in finding out some basics. I want to start off with what we have, let's zoom in here. This is our travel website here, CNN.com/travel. We have a section right down here that talks about airport delays. And if you go to it you are not going to see all the words on my screen right now, I'm going to show you where I linked everything for you in a second. But it lists all of the major airports in America and it tells you if there are ground stop, as Bonnie was just talking about, being at JFK. So CNN.com/travel is one place.
Another helpful thing is this map from Orbitz and when you look at this, I have been refreshing this all day long, it gives you links to these major airports and it tells you about conditions at the major airports right now. When we are seeing green, it means that you aren't seeing overall massive numbers of delays, but that doesn't mean that your flight is going to take off as it should.
Also, there's this which is interesting. I've been following this from the FAA.gov. What is interesting here as I update it they actually just minutes ago moved Philadelphia into red right there and it talks about conditions in Philadelphia, limitations on some flights right there. One more thing to mention for you and then I'll show you where it's linked for you. We at CNN.com have linked for you to all the major airlines. So if you're one of these people that doesn't easily know how to access all the websites that you need for your airline, it's there for you.
Now everything I just showed you, how do you get there? Here with my page, it's linked for you at my Facebook page which is Josh Levs CNN. If you go there right now you are going to see a couple of things, you will see everything I just showed, some links to help you, you also can see where other people have weighed in to contribute other ideas about websites that might help you as well. Let us know what websites are working for you. At the meantime keep it here at CNN.com/travel. We've got a team that is updating it throughout the day.
WHITFIELD: Yes, you have to be real patient, those are great options, because I know from personal experience I was on hold for one hour 20 minutes before I finally got some information on a flight that I was scheduled to be on. But may not happen because of that weather. It's nice to have options, though. Thanks so much. Appreciate that, Josh.
All right. Some people don't have to worry about going anywhere for now, so they're simply enjoying the scenery. After all it's been ages since parts of the south have experienced a white Christmas. Our reporter Katie Freeland sent us these pictures from her home in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The only real problem she said was some of the roads were icy, but it was nice to stay put and enjoy the snow.
So it's the end of the year and everyone is still making lists. Josh Levs has his favorite "Viral Videos" of the year. He's back. You are a busy man Josh.
LEVS: It's still the end of the year, and for those of you who are stuck in airports today, we have something that you're really going to enjoy coming up right now. We are looking back at some of our favorite videos from "Viral Video Rewind" throughout the year.
Fred, today I'm pulling out some of my favorites. You are going to love this; we have a parody of the old spice guy who is so brilliant. We've got a daily apromation (ph) that is to kick off the day for just about everyone, and we have this musical masterpiece. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just you and me. So when you tell me now --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: The story behind YouTube "We are the World" and the good it did for the world, I'm going to have all that coming up for you next on "Viral Video Rewind."
WHITFIELD: The best viral videos of the year one minute from now. But first our top stories.
A Christmas storm to remember. Parts of the east coast are getting ready for heavy snow, ice and howly winds. Blizzard warnings are in effect in places. Already hundreds of flights are canceled and it brought a rare treat to some parts of the south, a white Christmas.
As tensions mount on the Korean Peninsula, South Korea today announced its defense minister will meet with his Chinese counterpart early next year in Beijing. The state media reports the leaders will discuss regional security issues including the continuing standoff between the two Koreas. Relations between Beijing and Seoul has been strained by China's continuing support of the North Korean regime.
Travelers in and around London can't seem to get a break. Today drivers of London's underground trains went on strike. Its boxing day there and they wanted triple pay and a day off later for working the holiday. Transport officials said no. The area is still digging out from pre-Christmas blizzards. Remember folks stranded in the airports there.
Just a few more days, 2010 out of there, welcome the New Year. Before that happens, there have been so many lists, you know, ten top stories, most intriguing people, and now we've got best viral videos.
LEVS: We're just doing our favorites. Everyone has declared this. What about ours?
WHITFIELD: What about them? I'm ready.
LEVS: I looked back at "Viral Video Rewind" throughout the year. We have been doing it every weekend this whole year and before that. We're looking back at some of our favorite's right here. My number one favorite is this right here. Take a look.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two will make a better day just you and me, so when you're down and out and you see no hope at all. But if you just believe there's no way we can fall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: That women right there is Lisa Lavie (ph) and she is the one behind this. This was to raise money to help people in Haiti. A lot of celebrities have remade "We are the World." It didn't go over as well as some of them wanted it to. But I will tell you this, it did raise a lot of money, and these people, YouTube singers decided to get together and create their own "We are the World." If you watch it online, whenever you see any sing, you can click on that singer to go to their page and learn more about them. There's a whole world of YouTube singing people don't know about. They invited all these people to sing in the same key and then they got together and mixed it up themselves and did a beautiful job.
WHITFIELD: The lasting power of this song. Amazing.
LEVS: I mean this song is a classic of our childhood, and now for them to bring it into the new era of YouTube, it got me.
WHITFIELD: This is Lionel Ritchie, Michael Jackson, and Quincy Jones.
LEVS: This is the team and it's lasting.
LEVS: It will be remade many times in the future, too, but I don't know if it will be this well. Now one of your favorites for the year and mine, the parody of the Old Spice guy.
WHITFIELD: That was excellent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They could be like mine. Look at your shirt and back at mine, where are you? Library with want man you're grades could be like. Did you know that eight out of five dentists say that studying in the library is more effective than studying in your shower?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: These guys were fantastic. They were putting this together as a video for their library. It's a production unit for the library, and look what a brilliant job they did.
WHITFIELD: I wonder what -- I think there was some talk that he had been approached by some casting or entertainment. I wonder what's the latest with him. We'll be seeing him again in 2011.
LEVS: Yes, in 2011. This one's interesting. This is called walk across America where they shot what looks like a guy walking across the entire country. Take a look here.
So cool looking and they spoke with CNN about this, the song by the way is "Home." They used a combination of time motion and time lapse. They shot a video of this model walking basically and then all of these places and they did go across the country and went in a big van and went across the country.
WHITFIELD: Great views of American land. It's gorgeous.
LEVS: Here's another one. It wouldn't be a true look back if we didn't have something from the improv guy's comedy. I love this. Check it out. Ghosts are entering the public library in New York, and just kind of hanging around studying, and then skip to the next section of this video. Watch what happens. These are the guys that stage stunts in public with their improv comedy.
WHITFIELD: Usually on a subway or something.
LEVS: Exactly. But time the library actually invited them to do it.
WHITFIELD: New Yorkers are so unphased. Look. Isn't that funny.
LEVS: A few of them laughed. Whatever it's New York. Everything is in a performance here. Before we go, I'm going to get this one in, because this is our producer's favorite of year. This is for Antoinette. It's such a great video. Once in a while you get a new singer on the scene or once and awhile you get a new comedian on the scene. Rarely do you get two in one. The comedian singer that loves chicken take a look.
WHITFIELD: This was your favorite Antoinette, really?
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I bust the window, I thought I saw myself a church's box.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEVS: Jed Brown is doing it the song "Bust your Window." By Jed. WHITFIELD: I hope central casting gave him a call.
LEVS: He raps at one point about how he loves his chicken.
WHITFIELD: Antoinette. I'm surprised. You're so funny.
LEVS: Just for that she gave me an extra minute.
WHITFIELD: I thought she was going for a Zen moment or something, but she went for a rocking moment.
LEVS: I gave you your Zen moment yesterday, though. You have something special. I'll bring it back now since there's time. We're going to end with us doing that holiday rock song, a little jib jab action. Everyone loves this. We've got so many e-mails and about this.
Reynolds Wolf is in there, and Fred is slamming at that guitar. She has the full red cap going.
WHITFIELD: I'm going a little slash there. T.J. has his Lenny Kravitz.
LEVS: They mailed this to me. I was going to my mail and I found this in there. I thought I have to share this. Now we get around. Everything is up at my Facebook page. I want you to see the links yourself. Send me your favorites as well. I always like to see those.
WHITFIELD: We've had a good time. 2010's been a good one.
WHITFIELD: Josh Levs, appreciate that, so much fun.
LEVS: There is the chicken guy.
WHITFIELD: There he is. Can't get enough. That would be the producer. This is her favorite.
Well we're also going to talk about the snarls out there as a result of all this snow. It is tough getting around, particularly around the eastern seaboard, much more on that. Bonnie Schneider will be along.
WHITFIELD: This Christmas weekend's storms will keep a lot of travelers from getting back to work tomorrow or even getting to their original destination in the first place for the holidays. Roads and highways are dangerous, even in the south. In fact, that impacts a lot of our buddies here at CNN.
CNN supervising producer Tori Blase is actually stuck. She can't get back to work in Atlanta. She's stuck in Wake Forest, North Carolina and she's with us on the phone right now.
Tori, I hope you had a great holiday with family and now it just continues, right? TORI BLASE, CNN SUPERVISING PRODUCER (via telephone): Hi, Fredricka. Yes, yes. We had a great holiday, and we were not expecting to get stuck here in North Carolina like you said. We're in Wake Forest, which is northeast of Raleigh. Unofficially we got 71/2 inches of snow here.
BLASE: Exactly, yes. We're currently at about 30 degrees, and the snowplow has not come through my sister's neighborhood yet.
WHITFIELD: Oh, my goodness. Which explains why you cannot get on the road and travel this way back to Atlanta. It's just not safe. You're in a safe place. That was a smart move. How's the family holding up? How are the little ones holding up? Do they have you out in the snow playing?
BLASE: Yes, we have been outside enjoying the snow a little bit. The kids are ecstatic, especially mine. Since we are from Atlanta we don't see snow very often. It's a treat, and the roads are slippery here since it's below freezing and we're about 25 miles from I-85. It's quite a ways off the highway. We've been listening to the local affiliates, local CNN affiliates and highway patrol has been getting hundreds of calls from stranded motorists.
And at the Raleigh Durham Airport, as I know you have been reporting today on CNN, Delta has canceled flights in and out of there, and they have about 6 1/2 inches of snow there. This is the first white Christmas in decades for Raleigh Durham area.
WHITFIELD: You're always on the job here and you're enjoying the holidays with your family members and you're so equipped. You can send us a live picture right now of you from the back porch. Is that a pond?
BLASE: That is a lake behind my sister and brother-in-law's house. This is on Stream box technology off my iPhone.
WHITFIELD: I know you're not alone. You have explained all the family members who are there, but also your brother-in-law happens to be managing engineering for Wake Electric, so maybe Don Bowman you can join us now and give me an idea of how this weather has impacted everyone in terms of their utilities, et cetera.
DON BOWMAN, MANAGER OF ENGINEERING, WAKE ELECTRIC: I'd be happy to you. Thanks. This is the third snowfall we've had in this calendar year, so we're not used to it but we're getting prepared for it now that we have a few chances to get it right. Our utility covers about seven counties in the northern Raleigh area, and we have 35,000 consumers. Of that we've had I guess a high total of 2,061 outages today. The hard part of that is it is not all at one location, those 2,000 outages have accord over in ten different zip codes.
WHITFIELD: That means it will be particularly difficult to get to a lot of people and address their needs, get their utilities working again, right? BOWMAN: That's right. We have to chip away at it. We might have 20 outages caused by a tree falling or a car accident hit the line. We have to chip away. We're making good strides, but we're now under 300 on our count. So we've had a good day, and we're getting there. It is -- we have all our crews working and we're getting a few more helpers coming from the Hillsboro area today. We hope to have everybody nice and warm this evening.
WHITFIELD: Oh well all the best Don Bowman, thanks so much with Wake Electric, who happens to be the brother-in-law of one of CNN's finest supervising producer, Tori Blase. Tori we hope to see you back here in Atlanta. Have safe travels with you and your family as you make your way maybe after the snow melts a little bit or at least those roads get plowed there out of Wake Forest, North Carolina. Happy New Year!
BLASE: Thanks Fred.
Thanks very much. Happy New Year.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much you all.
So perhaps you're trying to get from point a to point b. You need to check on any delays, particularly at the airport, maybe even roadways, you can go to CNN.com/travel and get a little bit more information and specifically as it pertains to your air travel, click on the link airport delays. There you'll get a status update on the busiest U.S. airports and the average delay time or whether they are canceled altogether and when things might be up and running again. We'll be right back after this.