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THE SITUATION ROOM

American Woman Killed in Syria; Interview With Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin

Aired May 31, 2013 - 18:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Also ahead:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRIANA JONES, DAUGHTER OF AMERICAN WOMAN KILLED IN SYRIA: I looked at her body, her feet and her hands and her nose and her mouth, and I just -- I knew it was her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I will talk to the daughter of an American woman killed in Syria's civil war. She has a lot of pain and many questions she's asking right now.

And CNN's Anthony Bourdain tells me about the most terrifying adventure of his entire career. You're going to find out where in the world he went.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. And we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: But we begin with breaking news this hour, tornado warnings and watches in the Plains, in the Midwest. They are in effect right now. Forecasters have issued a special kind of alert that a particularly dangerous situation may be developing.

Let's go to Oklahoma, where tornado-ravaged areas are at risk once again.

Our severe weather expert, Chad Myers, is on the ground. He's chasing these storms as they unfold.

Chad, what's the latest?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The latest is, we just heard our first thunder boom right over here. We have three cells that have now developed west of Oklahoma City. I am standing not that far out of El Reno, Oklahoma.

And cells are violently rotating now, going up from the ground to 50,000 feet in less than 20 minutes. That's explosive development, Wolf. We're talking about a storm that just starts as a little cumulus cloud. And then 15, 20 minutes later, it's 10 miles high.

And I'm going to have my photographer here -- Eric (ph), go ahead and just -- right on up into the sky. And right on up here, what we're seeing up here (INAUDIBLE) that's the cirrus anvil of the cloud. This is now a mature thunderstorm beginning to get into its stage where it can rotate and put down a tornado.

We do know that there will be tornadoes in Oklahoma today. We're seeing a cauliflower-like puffiness off to the west. That's (INAUDIBLE) development. I have seen clouds out to the west now beginning to have some flat on the bottom. That begins -- that tells us that there's a lot of air going straight up into that thunderstorm.

It obviously has to go straight up. It has to go 10 miles high to get up to the top of this thing. We're going to see a lot of rain with this. We're going to have hail today. And the biggest potential I think will be tornadoes and in probably 15 or 20 minutes, I think, maybe less, we will have our first tornado warnings for Oklahoma without a doubt, because these cells now just violently going straight up here in Oklahoma, in El Reno and just a little bit north of there.

BLITZER: Are we talking, Chad, once again, in Moore, Oklahoma, outside of Oklahoma City, or closer to Tulsa, or in between? Where's the biggest threat?

MYERS: Well, now, here we go.

These storms are west of Oklahoma City, and they are moving from west to east, maybe slightly north of due east from the west. But that is going to take this cell that we have here right into northwest Oklahoma City first, then possibly over Edmond. We have more developments south of here that could still get to the Moore-Norman area. But, for now, I don't see that cell -- again, I don't see that cell going up as hard as the cells here that will affect maybe Piedmont, will affect maybe Guthrie, will eventually affect Tulsa for sure.

But these storms are just going to travel just to the north of I- 40. You have to understand that Moore and Norman would be south of I- 40.

BLITZER: So, these pictures coming in, these live pictures from our affiliate KOCO in Oklahoma City.

You see how it looks like those clouds, those dark clouds, Chad, I don't know if you can see what we're seeing -- it looks pretty ominous right now. The pictures on the right are coming in from El Reno, Oklahoma. From the left, they're coming in from Oklahoma as well. I think they are right where you are, Chad. It looks pretty ominous to me.

MYERS: It truly is.

The updraft we have going is very, very strong. We just had a brand-new what we call C.G., or cloud-to-ground lightning strike. The more lightning we get, the more shear is going on in the storm, the more hail is being generated by the storm. And we are going to see this continue for much of the night.

BLITZER: Chad, stand by for a moment.

(WEATHER UPDATE)

BLITZER: Let's go back to Chad. He's right in the middle of all of this.

Chad, these pictures we're seeing, we did see some folks standing I guess not too far away from you. It looked almost like a family there. Are these storm chasers? What's going on?

MYERS: You know, Wolf, this is going to be one congested area today.

And we even had a lot of congestion yesterday, where storm chasers almost make it their own traffic jam on these very small roads out in rural Oklahoma, where we were yesterday. Now, obviously, the more people you get, the slower things happen.

And this -- 20 years ago, when I first lived in Oklahoma City, this didn't happen. There might have been 15 or 20 chasers out in western Oklahoma. But now there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of people out there looking for these storms.

I want to call them thrill chasers, thrill seekers, because they're really not helping the National Weather Service. They just want to go see it for themselves. I understand the thrill, but I also understand the danger.

A pickup and a NOAA weather radio just not make you a storm chaser. It just makes you dangerous. And so when we see these guys not knowing to go -- that are going the wrong direction, we flag them down (INAUDIBLE) turn around, because there are people that just -- they just want to have some fun out here. And this isn't fun. Today, this is dangerous.

BLITZER: Are they far away from you, Chad?

MYERS: They are. They are. They're in good shape.

BLITZER: Yes.

MYERS: And they're with us, and they are with other professionals today.

BLITZER: So, because I'm just wondering, I'm sure a lot of our viewers are wondering, how dangerous is this for you, Chad, and for our crew?

MYERS: Wolf, what I see on the radar, and what the professionals that we have from the Severe Weather Center we have brought from Norman, we know exactly where this cell is. We know where it's going. We know to be absolutely not in the way.

I am -- without a doubt, I'm 15 miles from this storm. And even if it gets to be one-mile-wide, I will be nowhere near this storm when it starts to roll past us. Everyone here that I know -- ever with is absolutely in a safe location.

I wouldn't put my photographer, my producer or the sound people in any danger whatsoever. We have done this for a long time. We're not just a pickup with a NOAA weather radio. We have our own radar. We have our own rotation. We have our Doppler radar in the car with us. So we know where this is going. We know what direction it is. We also have authorities back in the area, the sheriff telling us what's going on, but also our meteorologists back at CNN. They call us and say, this storm just turned right.

You need to drop south on Highway 64 or whatever it might be. So we're in constant contact. There is no danger out here.

BLITZER: What is the time frame that we're looking at now for a tornado, or tornadoes, to touch down in Oklahoma?

MYERS: Well, we have mid-level rotation now -- 15,000 to 20,000 feet, the storm is rotating.

We don't have anything yet close to the ground. They don't really see any type of lowering which would indicate a wall cloud. There seems to be something called scud -- I'm looking off to the west. And scud is just rapidly rising air.

Now, this air down here is 90 degrees. When it goes up 2,000 feet, and it's still not in a cloud, it actually condenses. It condenses on itself and becomes its own cloud. And that's the scud we're seeing now. That just indicates the storm is still going up, becoming mature, and the rotation will come, I would say, within -- within 10 minutes. There will be a tornado warning in Oklahoma, I believe.

BLITZER: Within 10 minutes.

And is it really possible, Chad -- and I know you can't be 100 percent accurate in the prediction of where this tornado will touch down, is it really possible that the folks in Oklahoma City, or even in Moore, Oklahoma, could once again experience a tornado?

MYERS: There's no question that that could happen.

Without being an alarmist, and I don't do that, but there's certainly the potential that there's enough moisture potential, enough upward potential, enough shear southwest of Oklahoma City to generate thunderstorms there that could roll right over the same areas that got hit just a couple weeks ago.

Without a doubt, that's the potential. Now, we toured the area today, Wolf. And about a five-to-eight-block-wide area was hit from we're talking a 60-mile long city from Edmond to Norman and less than a mile-wide was hit. So there's a lot more out there. The likelihood of that same area being hit is low.

But the likelihood of something hitting a metro area from Edmond down to Norman is probably better than 50/50 today, some damage for sure.

BLITZER: So, at least within this hour, we could expect some potentially very, very dangerous situations to unfold where you are, Chad.

And you're saying within the next 10 to 15 minutes, there could be an actual tornado warning there?

MYERS: I think so, because tornado warnings don't necessarily mean that a tornado is on the ground.

A tornado warning is a Doppler-indicated radar, the radar- indicated rotation, or a tornado sighted by a spotter. So, if the National Weather Service in Norman looks at the storm through their Doppler radar, and deems it strong enough rotation that there may be a tornado coming down, they will put a warning out.

Now, best-case scenario, that warning comes out 15 minutes before the tornado touches down. But the lead warning, the average warning is about a 13-minute warning. The goal is 15 minutes for anybody on the ground. So 15 minutes before they actually believe it's going to touch the ground, that's when the sirens will go off, that's when they will type up the warning, and that's when they will send it out.

BLITZER: These are critical moments right now for folks to deal with this as well.

Chad, stand by for a moment.

We will take a quick break, resume our special coverage of what's going on in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, right now, tornado warnings and watches in the Midwest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're following the breaking news out of Oklahoma. These are pictures coming in from our affiliate KOCO. Tornado warnings, watches, they're in the works right now. You just heard Chad Myers, who is on the scene for us, say these -- if there is a tornado, it could actually hit the same area, the general area that was destroyed, a lot of it leveled in Moore, Oklahoma, right outside of Oklahoma City.

Don't want to be overly pessimistic right now, but these are ominous pictures we're seeing. We are going to get back to Chad, get back to Samantha Mohr, our meteorologist, get the latest information from on the ground. But this is a serious situation developing in Oklahoma right now, also, by the way, in Kansas and Missouri.

While we await more information, let's check some other important news.

U.S. officials and family members, they are now trying to piece together a 33-year-old woman's tragic journey from her home in Michigan to the bloody battlefield in Syria. Syrian state-run TV says Nicole Mansfield was killed by pro-government forces along with two other Westerners while fighting alongside the rebels.

We're trying to get answers about her death. And we're learning more about her complicated life.

Our Mary Snow is joining us now from Flint, Michigan, her hometown. She's digging on this story.

What do we know, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we have been talking to family members and friends who are just heartbroken and shocked and confused. They're at a loss to explain how she wound up in Syria.

And, Wolf, we're also getting a picture of a family at odds over her embrace of her new faith of Islam.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): This is how the world found out about Nicole Mansfield. Syrian television aired her driver's license and images of a bullet-riddled car and her body when it reported three Westerners were killed.

JONES: I didn't believe it was my mom the first time I saw them. And then I had to look again. And I looked at her body, her feet and her hands and her nose and her mouth, and I just -- I knew it was her.

SNOW: In Flint, Michigan, 18-year-old Triana Jones is struggling to make sense of how her mom, the woman she knows, wound up in the middle of conflict. She says she last spoke to her mother several weeks ago and didn't know where she was.

JONES: I know that she was talking to people online, and that they told her about the project in Syria, and that she was interested in going over there to help. And -- but she didn't think that it would be fighting. She told me that there would be no guns or anything, she would never be involved in that. And they lied to her.

SNOW: Jones says her mother was just a single mom who struggled her whole life and worked in health care, and says she did not display her Islamic faith around relatives because they didn't approve.

(on camera): Mansfield's family says she converted within the last five years and she prayed regularly at this storefront mosque. People here who knew her say she embraced the faith and became a devout Muslim.

TAWFEEQAH MALIK, FRIEND: She was a very quiet person. She really didn't say a lot. And she was very kind and giving. And I just can't believe anything like this happened to her.

SNOW (voice-over): Gregory Mansfield, Nicole's father, objected to his daughter's conversion. He became troubled when she traveled to Dubai in recent years.

GREGORY MANSFIELD, FATHER OF AMERICAN KILLED IN SYRIA: That was three years ago. All I know is that I went to the FBI about my concerns. And I know that they did follow up, because they were following her for a while. They just -- they needed to revoke her passport, and this wouldn't -- this wouldn't be going on. We wouldn't be sitting here right now.

SNOW: The FBI would not comment on Gregory Mansfield's claims that he'd approached them. Nicole Mansfield's death in a war zone remains a mystery.

MANSFIELD: I want answers. You know, I want to know why they didn't revoke her passport. Like I said, I'm confused by all this. I really, truly am.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now from Flint, Michigan, Nicole Mansfield's daughter, Triana Jones.

Triana, I got to tell you we're very sorry about the loss of your mom. How shocking has this been for you?

JONES: It's been very shocking.

When I found out, I didn't really believe it. And then I saw it on the news. That's how it confirmed my beliefs.

BLITZER: When was the last time you spoke with your mother?

JONES: The last time I spoke with my mom was about three weeks to a month ago.

BLITZER: Did you suspect anything was out of the ordinary? Did you know she was in Syria, for example?

JONES: I didn't know that she was in Syria, but I knew that something wasn't right.

BLITZER: How did you know?

JONES: Well, usually, when she leaves, she will tell me where she's going and when she will be back and she keeps in contact with me. And this time, she just disappeared, and no one's heard from her.

And the last time that we talked to her, it was just out of nowhere. She came and she went.

BLITZER: Do you have any idea how she wound up in Syria, how she decided that this might be the place for her to be right now?

JONES: Well, I know that she didn't have the means herself to go that far. She doesn't have the means to buy a plane ticket or anything like that. So, someone was helping her.

And I don't know why she -- I think she would want to go there to help the people that are being oppressed. That's all I can -- that's the only reason I could think. (CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Do you have any idea who might be -- who might have taken her, bought her a ticket, taken her to Syria?

JONES: No, I have no idea. She didn't keep me in the loop with her friends. She wasn't open about bringing me around them and letting me meet them. I came to some events with her, but...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: I was going to say, did she ever talk politics with you, about what's going on in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East?

JONES: Yes, she said little things about it.

I went to a protest with her about the problems in Palestine and Israel. And me and my friend went to that protest with her. And then she would show me things, and, like, would show me things off the Internet like videos and telling me, like, what's going on in the world. And -- but she didn't really say anything more than what was -- she was explaining it to me.

BLITZER: Well, once again, Triana, we're really sorry about what happened, sad for you, sad for your family. And, presumably, we will be getting some more information, and I suspect you will as well. We will stay in touch.

Good luck to you. Good luck to all of your family members. Thank you very much for joining us.

JONES: You're welcome.

BLITZER: Triana Jones, the daughter of Nicole Mansfield, joining us from Flint, Michigan.

When we come back, we're going back to Oklahoma. There are tornado warnings and watches under way right now. We will have the latest on that.

Also, we will have the latest on a huge blaze at a hotel. Dozens of firefighters rush to the scene.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Our affiliate KFOR is reporting from the scene as these tornado watches and warnings are escalating right now. Let's listen in briefly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. We want to definitely keep you kind of on the short leash here, short line, if you will, because that area near Hennessey is developing low-level...

BLITZER: We just lost our affiliate, KFOR. These are pictures coming in from another one of our affiliates, KOCO, in Oklahoma. Look at that, the cloud cover. It looks pretty ominous over there. George Howell is in Moore, Oklahoma.

And we heard from Chad and others, George, that, unfortunately, Moore could once again be a target of a tornado. I assume folks are taking precautions where you are.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, absolutely. People are definitely watching the local affiliates, listening to those NOAA weather radios, watching the storm closely.

According to the local affiliates, the meteorologists, they say that the storm continues to track up to the east-northeast. But if there is some rotation, it could track closer to Oklahoma City. I want to show you exactly what we're looking at right now in Moore. You see the clouds right there. You see a little bit of blue sky.

And let's pan over here, Dave, and you can kind of see, that is really the line, the southern edge of this storm system. And, Dave, pan up to those clouds right there. Those are some funky-looking clouds. And the clouds really start to change. You see several patterns as things get worse out here.

We're really at a good place to monitor, Wolf, this storm as it comes in on the southern edge. But, again, if the storm starts to track more to the east, that could definitely put Moore, this area that was hit hard just a week ago, that on the bullseye with the storm system. So we're keeping a very close eye on it.

It looks like right now we have severe thunderstorm warnings. But this thing is growing fast, developing quick.

BLITZER: Yes, I feel so bad for the people there who have gone through so much early last week -- 10, 12 days ago, they were going through a disaster, an EF-5 tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma, right outside of Oklahoma City. And now once again, they have to be on edge.

It must be heartbreaking to see what's going on. And I assume folks are going inside or whatever. They're just maybe driving away.

HOWELL: Well, Wolf, you know, and absolutely.

You were out here just a week ago. You remember what it was like just after that storm came through. People went back into these communities. They started to go through the debris, pile it up and start moving it out of the way.

But I will step out of the way and kind of show you. I mean, look out there. Nobody's out there, and for good reason. This storm system could move into this area. No one is in this neighborhood right now. And, obviously, if you're in this neighborhood, the winds start to pick up, you don't want this debris flying around. We're monitoring that very closely as well. In case that happens, we're in a good position to move to a safe location to continue to monitor this storm. But it's definitely a telling sight out here. People want to get back into their neighborhoods and recover, but that's not happening right now. They're watching the storm, ready to take shelter should that become necessary.

BLITZER: George, you have been there now for a few days.

And these are pictures -- I want to tell our viewers these are live pictures from KOCO, our affiliate there in Oklahoma. Chad Myers was telling us that they potentially could get a tornado warning within minutes, if in fact these -- this weather system escalates the way they anticipate that it will.

And I just want our viewers to know it's not just Oklahoma that's of concern right now. In Kansas, there have been tornado warnings and watches. Also, in Missouri, there have been some tornado warnings and watches. This is a serious situation throughout the Midwest right now.

And it's been going on for days.

And as we heard from Samantha Mohr, our meteorologist at the CNN Weather Center in -- at the CNN Center, as you heard, as you heard, this is a dangerous situation in -- and that's going to continue, presumably, through the weekend.

The governor of Oklahoma is joining us on the phone right now, Governor Mary Fallin.

Governor, what's the latest information you're getting?

MARY FALLIN (R), OKLAHOMA GOVERNOR (via phone): I'm actually driving right through the area. I just passed through the Moore damage site by the theater, where the hospital is, where the neighborhoods were destroyed. And it's pretty dark out here. I've got the radar out on my iPad, watching it. It's probably more about 40 minutes out of the Oklahoma City, Moore type area.

And with the radar you see a lot of purple, which is hell, and red and yellow and green. And so it's a pretty good storm that's coming through. We're watching it and tracking it.

We pulled up our FEMA and our Office of Emergency Management personnel off the debris sites, so they would be out of harm's way.

And I'm driving down I-35, which is right in the area where the neighborhoods and the business area that struck Moore. And there (UNINTELLIGIBLE) through here about an hour ago, going down to Norman. And the highway was just packed. It was moving very, very slow. I think people are going home from work early. I know many businesses let their employees off at 3 or 4, just in anticipation of the weather.

But as I'm coming back from Norman through Moore to Oklahoma City, the transportation, the cars have let up on the highway. So I think people are watching and paying attention and getting off the highways.

There was an electronic highway sign, said dangerous storms moving through this area from 4 to 6. Get off the highways. So we're doing a good job of telling our people what's going on.

BLITZER: It's hard for me to believe I was with you in Oklahoma just last week, that once again, given all the folks -- all that the folks have gone through in Oklahoma City, and Moore, Oklahoma, only days ago, once again potentially -- and we hope it doesn't happen -- potentially you're facing a nearly similar kind of situation. How worried, Governor, are you?

FALLIN: Well, we just want to be safe. And we operate -- we set up our operation center, emergency operation center, earlier today. And we're well prepared. And we have all hands on deck.

One of the things we do at our center is, we have the highway patrol, we have the health department, we have the local law enforcement, our different emergency management centers, the welfare department, all these different entities that deal with people, and deal with emergencies, all in the command center of the National Weather Service.

So they're all working hand in hand, watching what's going on around the state. But it's kind of hard to believe -- I see big bolts of lightning over there -- it's hard to believe that we have another storm front going through.

We've been in a terrible drought last year and the year before. And of course, now, we're getting some severe weather and storms. Last year we didn't have that many storms. But it's been a little bit remarkable as far as having some storms this year.

BLITZER: What I hear you saying, Governor is that, what, the next half hour, potentially, could be the most ominous? Is that -- is that what's going on?

FALLIN: Absolutely. I'm looking at the sky. And it's pretty dark in the area. And it's moving -- mostly moving into the Oklahoma City area, around I-40, which is a major interstate that runs east- and-west through Oklahoma, which will come right towards Oklahoma City. And it's about 40 miles out from here. And if it moves on to the south and the east, it will head towards the Moore area, where we have had the storms.

So I just advise everybody to be weather alert, to pay attention, get underground or get in a storm shelter, if the weather gets bad, and don't take any chances with these storms.

BLITZER: Did I hear you say, Governor, you're heading towards Norman, Oklahoma? Is that right?

FALLIN: Well, I left work a little early, because I had some long hours. I left about 4 to go down and do my mama duties and helped my son clean up his apartment. He just got out of college last week. I got down there for about 30 minutes, and then all of a sudden I start getting all these weather alerts. So I was driving back through Norman from O.U. through Oklahoma City to get to a safe area myself.

And I'm sitting here driving right through, you know, what looks to be bad weather and coming up -- it's not raining in Oklahoma City yet, but it's a good 30, 40 minutes just right outside, looking at the radar.

BLITZER: And you're heading towards Oklahoma City, then, right?

FALLIN: I'm just passing right by the capital, getting real close to the governor's house. And so I'm going to go there. And it's a few blocks from the command center, so I can be really close to be on guard.

But we -- you know, it's kind of interesting to see that our businesses let people off work early today. Several of them did. At about 3, 4 p.m. We didn't let our state employees off early at the capital, because frankly, it's safer to be in the capital complex, because there's basements in those buildings.

But seeing the traffic on one side of the highway is backed up pretty good, so I'm hoping that they can get off and get onto wherever they need to get. As you saw in Norman, and the I-35 corridor last week, there were a lot of cars that were trapped on the highway when the twister actually crossed the highway. And I don't know how many cars we had destroyed. But it really devastated the cars that were on the highway.

BLITZER: At least school is over with. You don't have to worry about elementary schools, or middle schools or high schools right now. The kids are in their summer break. We know the tragedy that happened at the two elementary schools in Moore, Oklahoma, last week. So at least that part of the story -- the situation is not going to be on the table right now.

Governor, if you don't mind, stand by for a moment. I know you've got a lot of issues you're working with. If you could stay with us, we'd be grateful. If not, we totally understand.

We're watching a very serious situation developing in Oklahoma right now. Actually, in Oklahoma City, even in Moore, Oklahoma, the scene of a horrible EF-5 tornado, only early last week. We'll stay on top of this story and continue our coverage right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're following this horrible situation developing in Oklahoma right now. Tornado watches and warnings. We've just received a bulletin from the National Weather Service in Tulsa saying that they've issued a tornado warning for northern -- I hope I'm pronouncing it right, the governor will correct me -- Osage County in northeastern Oklahoma. Governor Mary Fallin is joining us on the phone. She's in Oklahoma City.

Is that -- am I pronouncing it right, Governor? FALLIN: That's right, Wolf, it's Osage County.

BLITZER: Osage County, there's now a tornado warning until 6:15 central time. That's 7:15 p.m. Eastern. That's another, what, half an hour or so. Is this a pretty populated county, not so populated? Tell us a little bit about Osage County.

FALLIN: Well, in looking at the map, the weather map itself, this is a pretty long line of storms that's coming up from, oh, northwestern Oklahoma, around a just a little bit below Oklahoma City, and going all the way up northeast. So that's up northeast Oklahoma. And there's a big storm front going all the way up into, it looks like the Kansas area. And so it's going to be a long night, I think, for the state of Oklahoma. And looking at these various storms that are popping up.

I finally got to the location where I can see a TV right now, and our local newscasters are showing possible rotation that's about 45 minutes out of Oklahoma City.

One thing to remember right now is that it's 5:30 or so Oklahoma time, which means it's rush hour traffic. People are coming home from work. People are certainly going to be on the interstate around I-40, which crosses from Arkansas clear across Oklahoma to Texas. And so it's a major corridor.

So I hope people are listening to their radios, and listening to their news, and following what's going on. It's important to do that.

BLITZER: I hope so, too. Chad Myers is in Oklahoma for us. Our severe weather expert, our meteorologist.

Chad, I know you have a question for the governor. Go ahead.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST (via phone): Well, Governor, we do know that there is a cone funnel. Funnel means not touching the ground, but very close now to Calumet right along I-40. Calumet is north of I-40 just a little bit. But this is right along I-40, a little west of El Reno. It should probably track close to Oklahoma City, maybe northwest Oklahoma City.

What do you say to the people of the city, that maybe just moved there, that they're already a little shell-shocked from what they've seen in the last ten days? How do they prepare if they just arrived in your city, and your state?

FALLIN: Well, they need to find a place to take shelter, if the tornado sirens go off. Listen to the weather itself. Don't stay in your cars. That's one of the things that we know, in any type of tornado situation, in any state, because sometimes tornadoes can actually pick up a car. And we've seen a lot of cars that were pelted, and destroyed from the EF-5 tornado that came through.

They also say not to get under a bridge. A lot of people get right up under the embankment of a bridge. And years ago, there was a mother and her baby that got up under a bridge, and the mother got sucked up by the tornado and so did the baby. But they found the baby. You might remember that, the bridge Creek Trail (ph), over ten years ago.

And so the best place, if you're on a highway, get into -- if you can find a storm drain, some type of metal piping that's in the ground itself, crawl in there in the ditch, if you have to. If not, find a building, a place you can get in the center of that building. Get into a basement of a building. If you're at work and you've already got a basement, or a storm shelter, don't leave work. Just stay there. It's better to be in a -- be in a place.

BLITZER: Hold on. Chad, hold on for a moment, because we're just getting word of some significant, what's described as activity west of Oklahoma City. We're watching this situation unfold.

Stand by, everyone stand by. We'll take a quick break and resume our special coverage right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Getting new information about tornado warnings west of Oklahoma City. Samantha Mohr is at the CNN Weather Center.

Samantha, what's the latest advisory we're getting?

SAMANTHA MOHR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, we do have a tornado warning here, Wolf. And this storm that is capable of producing a tornado is moving right along I-40 here to the east.

And you can see right here, this is actually a symbol that marks a debris signature. It's picked up by the Nedule (ph) polar radar, and it indicates that we have some sort of debris rotating around in this part of the storm. This tornado warning has this system moving to the east, clocking in at around 25 miles per hour right now.

The worst time we could see this happening, it's coming right down the interstate at rush hour, potentially rain-wrapped. So you may not know, if you're out on the interstate, or if you're out anywhere, you may not be able to tell where the storm is, and where it is not, as it's rain-wrapped here.

So here it is moving to the east at 25 miles per hour, putting it in El Reno, 6:08, Banner at 6:20, and in Yukon at 6:29, a dangerous situation. Very dangerous timing, Wolf.

BLITZER: Looks very ominous, those clouds.

Chad, where are you and what are you seeing?

MYERS: Wolf, I'm about eight miles from that rotation on the I- 40. Maybe nine. But what I've seen is essentially nothing.

And this is the threat of storm chasers that go out and don't know what they're doing, and don't have a radar in their car and aren't out with other professionals to talk back to, back at either a TV station or the National Weather Service. We know that there's a rotation in this cell somewhere. But all I see is rain wrapping all around the system. Think about just the swirl in the middle. That would be the tornado, or the funnel. But around that swirl, from where we're sitting, you can't see it. Because all you can see is a shield, a wall of rain that has wrapped all the way around that circulation. And that's the danger part.

And right now, that dangerous part is right along I-40, about ten maybe or so miles west of El Reno, traveling to the east, maybe to the northeast just a little bit.

So it is still developing. We talked about this earlier where there was just one cell. Well, then all those cells really have merged. That slowed down the development but also created a bigger storm. So now four cells are now one cell. And there's still a couple of rotations out there, some spins out west of El Reno, heading to the east, and El Reno is just to the west of Oklahoma City.

And if that gets it back together, this could still be a very big tornado heading into Oklahoma City metro area within the next, I would say 30 minutes to 45, maybe an hour. This storm has been moving quite slowly here. As it gets higher and more developed and more mature, it will pick up some speed as it gets up into the atmosphere a little farther, picking up some of the higher jet stream and mid-level winds.

BLITZER: Chad, stand by.

Samantha, stand by.

We still have the governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, with us. We'll resume our coverage right after this.

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BLITZER: Again, live pictures coming in from KOCO, our affiliate in Oklahoma City. Pretty ominous situation that's watching a report from a storm chaser that we're getting. Let's listen in briefly for a second.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... it's going through all sorts of cycles. Again, supercell storms don't maintain the same strength all the way through. And again, sometimes they will go through processes along the way.

But again, this rotation is doing all sorts of things. But still, we have enough rotation within this. And I have a -- I have a pretty good feeling that it's going to be very difficult for anyone to see a tornado out in this today with all the moisture that we have.

But still, more than likely, if there's a tornado, either it is rain wrapped or it will become rain wrapped if it's not on the ground yet. However, it's going to be, again, in this vicinity right here. You can see that in-flow area coming in on the radar. Large hail falling right along -- right along I-40 here.

This is just south of Calumet. It is just west of El Reno. And again, with -- probably about 10 miles away, I do believe, from El Reno. This is getting awfully close. This is going to be near the I- 270 -- not I-270, Route 270 exit off of I-40 there. Again, that will be the exit that takes you up into Calumet. So anyone that's really living, I would say, anywhere between Red Rock Road and Easton Road, the areas between the exit for Calumet...

BLITZER: All right. Let me quickly bring in Chad. Chad, you're not too far away from these ominous pictures we're showing our viewers.

MYERS: Yes. I see the rotation on radar. And I also see the rotation visibly. I can see right just to our southwest probably eight to ten miles. I have good visibility on it. But it's not raining between me and the cell.

I can truly see now some lowering. Definitely, a rotation here. in this wall cloud. Because all of the cells that we had earlier have now all combined into one. They're not fighting each other anymore. They're actually -- they're working together. They're all going up together.

There are a couple of different circulations. But now this will involve the tail end of Charlie. This is the last storm in the line. It is the one that can grab all of the moisture from the cell.

Remember, the Gulf of Mexico truly is the source of all this weather. The Gulf of Mexico, the weather there -- if the Gulf of Mexico was a big desert, we wouldn't have tornadoes like we do in America. But the Gulf of Mexico sends us all of this moisture. Dry air comes out of the Rocky Mountains, and cold air comes down from Canada. Those three things get together in what we call a triple point. That triple point can sometimes be Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas. It just depends, really, where the jet stream is.

There's a severe weather season. There's a tornado season in Canada in the early August, September, October range, because that's where the jet stream is. But then it comes back down here for the springtime. And this is still spring. I know kids are getting out of school for summer break. But technically, this is still spring.

This is a big day today. We're going to see this -- I think we'll see a tornado on the ground soon. We clearly have a tornado warning. The National Weather Service sees the rotation, and so do I.

BLITZER: There's no way of knowing right now, Chad, if there is a tornado, how -- how large it could be.

MYERS: No, not yet. I'm looking right at it, though. I'm in a perfect position just to the east of it, to the southeast of it, looking into what's called the bear cage, as the storm comes around. Now, there are other rotations that could be wrapped in rain. But we're not seeing those. But we're far enough away that we're certainly not worried. That's 15 miles away.

But the -- what you see now are these low rings of the clouds, this lowering. I believe there's a part to the left and a part to the right. They're wrapping around each other. And that may become the dominant circulation for this cell.

BLITZER: We'll stay on top of this story, Chad. Thanks very much. We'll take another quick break.

Don't leave CNN. We'll have extensive live coverage throughout the night.

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