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Boston Digs Out; Winter Storm Impact; Flight Delays; Weather Outlook; Possible WWII Bomb Explodes in Germany, Killing One; Putin Inspects Sochi Olympic Venues; Snow Blankets Midwest, Northeast; Chinese Ice Breaker Now Trapped in Antarctic Pack Ice

Aired January 3, 2014 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: The East Coast. That is where the nor'easter moving on right now. But the winter emergency is not going to go away this weekend. We've got Margaret Conley, she is in Boston, Brian Stelter, he's on Long Island, Poppy Harlow at LaGuardia and, of course, watching the big picture in all of this, Alexandra Steele at the CNN Severe Weather Center.

I want to start off with you, Margaret, because I covered Boston for many years. Those folks, you know, all of the snow and the winter mess that they've got, they are hardy. But they're still - they're still impacted by all this today.

MARGARET CONLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hardy and they can endure, Suzanne. Some parts of Massachusetts got up to two feet of snow. We were showing you this measuring stick yesterday. We saw only about two inches yesterday and it's well over a foot today. Of course, this is also an area that's been plowed, but up to two feet in other areas.

The snow is expected to taper off this afternoon, but that doesn't mean it's over. There's a lot of wind and there's a lot of chill. Winds are expected to be up to 35 miles per hour. And there's a windchill advisory out from the weather service. That's extending till 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Now, that windchill advisory, windchills can be low as low at 25 degrees below. And, of course, the big concern here is travel. There's a lot of winds and very light snow and that's causing visibility concerns. Logan Airport, they've stayed open but their flights have been closed. There were flights - flights were canceled from 8:30 p.m. up until noon today.

We're not too far from Logan Airport. We've been keeping an ear out for flights that have been going. We've heard some land. But I just got a call on my way over here saying that my flight tonight at 6:30, it's been canceled.


MALVEAUX: Oh. And, Margaret, I think a lot of people don't realize what it takes. I mean it looks so pretty. You're standing out there in the snow. But it's a lot of hard work behind the scenes, of course. Sometimes it's so cold you can't even talk, you can't even speak in the weather. How are you guys doing out there? How are the crews managing it today?

CONLEY: Well, Suzanne, we all know when we're doing these live reports for a long extended time, the most important thing is access to a bathroom. And we've been very, very lucky. The church -- there's a church right behind us. This is a - this is a parking lot for a church. And they have been so kind. They've kept the door open 24 hours so we can sneak down into their basement and use the restroom. Our sat truck also, I don't think you can see it from right here, but the engineer, he has been working for 33 hours straight. He only took one hour off just so we could keep the show running.


MALVEAUX: Yes, Margaret, that is - it's tough duty. I don't think people even can appreciate what you guys are going through. I remember we - we just had -- we were at the mercy of people who would come out and give us hot chocolate for free because they felt so badly for us out there. So, hang in there, Margaret.

CONLEY: That's right.

MALVEAUX: You know, we'll get through this.

We also know the public schools in New York City, they're closed. The governor has urged people to stay in their homes to be safe. I want to bring in our Brian Stelter. He's live from New York on Long Island.

And we've been seeing you in a mound of snow throughout the day. Can you explain what the mound of snow is all about.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. We're at a Marriott just to - so we have access to a bathroom, thankfully, and that hot chocolate that was being mentioned. But we're out in the elements when we can. And, of course, because we've seen plows going by, both private plows here at the hotel and also out on the streets, you know, you get these giant mounds of snow that make the storm look even bigger than it actually is.

But I'm walking through a drift here that's at least a foot high and that's because of all the wind out here. The wind has been 25, 30 miles per hour, sometimes gusting to 40. And when it kicks up, as it is right now, definitely stings your face, makes you wish you were anywhere but here.

I was just thinking, this is a day off for a lot of school children, but it's just too cold to be out sledding. It's just too nippy to be out there. This snow will be sticking around for a while, though, of course, because we're going to have these cold temperatures for days. So maybe as it warms up, maybe next week, the kids can take advantage of all of this.

MALVEAUX: Maybe by Monday. Brian, I know it's cold. It's windy out there. It's hard to talk. There is a street behind there you. Are there a lot of streets that are closed off at this point or how's the traffic? STELTER: No longer. Overnight, the Long Island Expressway, which is right behind me here, was shut down from about midnight until 8:00 a.m. A very unusual step taken by the governor of New York in order to help the plows and crews treat the roads. Turns out here though, salt, which is usually used on these rods, as you all know, isn't really effective out here. It's too cold. So there is some sand being put down to try to create some traction. But some of those usual steps for clearing roads aren't effective today.

The road's open now though. The highways are open here. And as you can see, traffic's moving pretty much at speed. But there's not many cars out here because thankfully most people are staying home.

MALVEAUX: All right, Brian, try to stay home, if you can.

We know parts of New England - rather New York and Massachusetts under blizzard warnings. More than 2,000 flights have actually been canceled so far today. This is across the country. And that's where our Poppy Harlow, she's live at New York's LaGuardia Airport.

We have learned I think, Poppy, that just one runway has reopened at JFK. Is that right? And there are limited flights now. There are flights that are being able to take off and go?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. I mean the way you have to look at this is that step by step progress is being made. One runway is open at JFK out of four. We're told they're trying to get a second open shortly. So we'll update you on that in the next hour.

Overall, 2,094 flights in and out of the United States canceled today. You see on the screen behind me, all those yellow. Those are canceled flights here at LaGuardia. The bulk of them coming at Newark. But you've got over 300 here at LaGuardia, over 200 at JFK. And to give you some perspective, about 2,300 flights were canceled in all of yesterday. So we're almost to that number already today. It's ticking up literally by the minute.

How are they dealing with this? They've got more than 200 pieces of equipment on the runways trying to clear them at the major three airports in this area. At the same time, the progress I mentioned at the top is that all of the airports along the northeast are open in some way or another after we had a ground stop at Newark overnight. We had zero visibility at JFK. So limited basis in terms of flights in and out of these airports.

Here at LaGuardia, flights trying to come in here in the early morning hours were actually diverted, we're told, Suzanne, because the visibility was so poor. That was because of the condition of the snow being so light and flaky, it was being whipped up by those high winds, diverted to other airports. So things are looking better now. But for so many passengers, it doesn't feel better at all.

MALVEAUX: And, Poppy, I noticed that you've got some folks behind you. They look like they're hanging in there. They're not too discouraged. At least some smiles and joking going on behind you. You talked to some other folks earlier today who were in some pretty long lines but were not so happy.

HARLOW: Right. I mean incredible the way they're dealing with this actually really impresses me. But we'll show you the video we took of this line. When I walked in here this morning, Suzanne, I said what is this line? And it's the line for just American Airlines for all the folks that have canceled flights that are trying to rebook. So we went to the front, we met Luciana Rodrigues, who had been waiting in that line for three hours, visiting New York from Brazil. Here's her take.


HARLOW: How long have you waited in this line?


HARLOW: Three hours?


HARLOW: From Brazil.

RODRIGUES: From Brazil.

HARLOW: Trying to go where?


HARLOW: You just got called -


HARLOW: So I should let you go.


HARLOW: But how hard is - how difficult has this been for you just to get to Chicago?

RODRIGUES: Oh, well, probably we were going -- leaving on Monday.


HARLOW: Not leaving until Monday. That is the best hope for her. So many people facing it.

And I spent some time, Suzanne, talking to the airport workers here. One of the gate agents told me, she said, I haven't been home since yesterday. There were three of us here this morning. We're trying to get as many workers out of their homes to come here and help all these people, but they're having a really, really difficult time just getting here.

MALVEAUX: Yes, I can imagine. Poppy, I don't know, I don't mean to give her a hard time, but if I lived in Brazil, I would not be headed to Chicago right now. I'd stay - I'd stay in Brazil.

HARLOW: I know. I know. I know. I felt so bad for her.

MALVEAUX: OK. I lived in Chicago. I know how cold that can be. All right, Poppy, thank you.

The storm impacting a lot of folks. About 100 million people in 22 states. It is not just the northeast here. Want to bring in our Alexandra Steele who's at the CNN Weather Center.

And I don't know about you, but I'm starting to feel a little guilty just being inside seeing how people are roughing this.

ALEXANDRA STEELE, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, you know, I mean when - you know, Suzanne, though, Poppy talking to those people out there, they've been working for a day or two, haven't been home. You compare that to the people in Antarctica who have been stuck on that ship for a week, right? It's a little relative.

All right, so here's the good news. The storm, it really was a quick hitter. And models just nailing this forecast. So all the snow is gone. A little snow here on the Cape. But other than that, it's the winds and the cold certainly.

So, how much did we see? Kind of right on the money if we compare this to our forecast. It's spot on. Boston, 14.6. Albany, New York at seven. Worcester, Massachusetts, like that I-91 Corridor we were talking about, 6.2. Philadelphia at six. Central Park in New York at six. Want to show you some of the greater totals, though. Boxford, Massachusetts, 23. Topsfield (ph), north of Boston, 19. So certainly you get the picture.

So this has been the storm from my perspective with the radar. Take a look at this storm from your perspective. Some of these iReports. And thank you so much for sending them. We'll start things off and show you what we've got. In terms of New York City, of course, we've seen all of this. And then six inches of snow. And also from New York to Chicago we've been getting incredible iReports coming in.

Also you can see the graffiti around from Tyson's Corner, Virginia. Beautiful pictures of New York. Lincoln Park, at the zoo, also. And you can see, this is what happens. Look at the danger of that. People out there enjoying with their goggles and skiing from New York to Tyson's Corner to Washington and to the zoo, 10 inches in New York at Central Park and Lincoln Park Zoo, 10 inches. So just an incredible amount.

But, you know, also what we're seeing so the snow has fallen kind of on spot what we expected -- look at these beautiful pictures -- but now believe it or not, the cold is coming, Suzanne, and even colder. Look at this. Next week, colder, colder arctic air moving in.


STEELE: Places actually in Minnesota, they've already canceled schools for next Monday. In Chicago, we could see some of the coldest air in 17 years. Cold morning temperatures -- these are morning temperatures. These are not even windchills - 30 below. So we've just got an -- what a winter this is turning out to be. Certainly, hey, extreme is the new normal. We certainly know that. And certainly the beginning of this year is no exception.

MALVEAUX: All right. I feel very, very lucky that we're inside today covering this amazing story. But our intrepid reporters out there from all angles. Thank you very much, Margaret, Brian, Poppy and Alexandra. Of course, we're going to bring all of this to you as it develops.

And you can see beneath the screen, just below here, this is -- we're using every square inch of the TV screen to bring you all the latest information. We're talking about the current conditions, the forecasts, the closings, everything. We want to keep you up to date throughout the day. So, please, stay watching. It's going to be a very important day to watch the weather.

Here's more what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD as well.

This is a bomb exploding in Germany. Officials think it could be one that was left over from -- if you believe this or not -- World War II.

Also, the Winter Olympics, they are only a few weeks away. Security still a big concern. Up next, Russian President Vladimir Putin arriving in Sochi to inspect the venues.

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MALVEAUX: We're bringing you extensive live coverage of the powerful winter storm that is slamming the northeast. But first, want to take a quick look at the other news that is around the world.

Secretary of State John Kerry, he is now intensifying his push for a lasting peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. He has been meeting today with Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas. That is after talks yesterday with Israel's prime minister. Benjamin Netanyahu expressed fresh doubts about whether Palestinians are committed to peace while the Palestinians accused the Israeli leader of sabotaging peace talks with a recent announcement of new settlements.

World War II ended nearly 70 years ago, but it might still be claiming victims. A construction worker was killed and at least 13 others hurt in an explosion in Germany. Now, officials think the blast came from a bomb left over from the World War II era. It is believed there already many unexploded bombs still in Germany that were dropped by Allied forces. Three members of a bomb squad were killed trying to defuse one back in 2010. In Cambodia, demands for better pay have now turned deadly. Military police opened fire today on garment factory workers protesting for higher wages. At least three people were killed. Several more were hurt. Police made dozens of arrests.

Now, the rallies began last week, but they have gotten more intense in the last couple of days with demonstrators throwing rocks and setting a big fire in the street. You see it there.

Workers want their minimum wage doubled to $160 per month. The government has ordered them -- offered them, rather, $100 per month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Sochi today. He's inspecting the Olympic venues just weeks before the city hosts the Winter Games.

Our Jill Dougherty is joining us. And, Jill, explain this to us. Because, is this just a symbolic move here or is he really going from place to place checking stuff out?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think it's both. But there's a lot of image control going on.

I mean, think of the last few days. We've been reporting almost every day about those bombs that took place in Volgograd and the images on TV, both around the world and in Russia, have been death and destruction and a lot of fear about what's going to happen at those Olympics.

So, look at the video from today. President Putin goes down to the region where the Olympics are going to take place. The skies are blue. Look at that snow. He has a great snow -- you know, ski outfit on. He looks very vigorous. And don't forget, this is the Mr. Macho image that we've been seeing a lot of this. He didn't have a bare chest, but he had a great snow jacket on.

And, so, I think all of these images are important. Number one, he's going to the scene that everybody's worried about. He's going to Sochi.

Number two, he looks vigorous. He doesn't look scared.

Number three, he's going around to the locations where not only the Sochi Olympics will be taking in place, but in June, the G-8 is going to be taking place, meeting of the G-8 leaders.

So very important venue and very important for him to send that message that everything's OK.

MALVEAUX: Jill, I mean, how likely is it that you know, he leaves the venues that this might be the place where it would be a lot easier to actually have some sort of terrorism attack when he's not around?

DOUGHERTY: Well, I think that if you talk to experts and you really look at what's going on, they are going to be covering that venue, which is the downtown Sochi area, as well as the resort where the ski jumps, et cetera, they're going to be covering that with security. And so far, it looks as if they have -- well, let's say -- I don't know enough, but let's say a massive show of security.

What's going to happen is, you still have the possibility that outside of Sochi, outside of that area in that region, which is really you'd have to argue, a war zone, that there could be activities such as the Volgograd bombings, and it could happen, unfortunately, in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other cities.

So, that, I think, is what we're going to be dealing with. If the terrorists can't get to the Olympics, which you know they want to do, and they've said they do, then they're going to try to get to other places, unfortunately.

MALVEAUX: All right, Jill Dougherty, thank you very much. We appreciate that.

This is one day after airlifting 52 people from this ship that was stuck in the Antarctic. We've been talking about this all week.

Well, now, an interesting twist, the rescuers might need rescuing. We've got a live report on new trouble for the crews there at the bottom of the world.

That, straight ahead.


MALVEAUX: We've had some pretty heavy snow this week, here in the United States this week and AROUND THE WORLD.

There are several photos that caught our eye, as well. Want you to take a look at these. This is in Chicago, they, of course, just having some fun, taking advantage of all this snow, families enjoying the snow holiday by sledding down the icy hills. This is Homewood Park.

There are some parts of Chicago that have been hit with more than 16 inches. Chicago's just a really fun place to be.

In New York, firefighters digging out their firehouse, this is in Brooklyn. This is after eight inches of snow. New York City schools, they were forced to close today. Long Island Expressway also shut down.

Take a look at this. This is India. They've been experiencing heavy snowfall. This is since Tuesday. Oh, I love that, snowman.

This guy had to climb up a ladder to actually carve out the huge snowman. It's that big. Even added some hair and look at that little smiley face there. Got to love it.

All right, we'll be back with much, much more.


MALVEAUX: These guys just can't get a break. Just when you thought it was mission accomplished for the rescuers at the bottom of the world, think again.

Now, it appears the rescuers themselves may need to be rescued. We're talking about the Chinese ship that provided the helicopters that ferried 52 people from this research ship that was stuck in the Antarctic ice.

Matthew Chance has been following all the twists and turns of this. This is just amazing. He joins us from London here.

OK, so, we've been seeing videos of people dancing and having a great time all week, but now, you've got rescuers who are now stuck, right? They're just stuck.

Are they as happy and as optimistic that they're going to get out of this thing?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I can't imagine they are. They couldn't be very happy about it, could they?

In fact, one of the crew members on board the ship where those 52 passengers were supposed to be being taken back to dry land has told us that, you know, everyone feels really sorry for the Chinese crew because they only came to lend what they thought would be a helping hand.

And they've ended up getting stuck themselves, and they're going to be there, though, for apparently just for a couple more days. The pack ice around their ice breaker, the Snow Dragon, has frozen solid, making it impossible for them to get out of it themselves.

But they've got plenty of food, I suppose, looking on the up side, plenty of water, as well, so they're not in any immediate danger. But everyone's getting a much longer white Christmas, Suzanne, than they bargained for, put it that way.

MALVEAUX: And, Matthew, social media has played a role huge role in the story.

People were making video journals and blogging about the whole thing, so we really had a sense of how they were doing, how they felt about all this.

What about the rescuers? Are there any stories that are emerging from where they are?

CHANCE: Yeah, I think for the rescuers it's been much less fun, put it this way.

The passengers, the scientists, the tourists who were on the expedition to Antarctic really put a brave face on their ordeal. I suppose they had to, in the terrible conditions they were facing, and made the most of it and celebrated the holiday period, of course, as well.

For the rescuers, it's been much more of a challenge. There have been three separate attempts by three ice breakers from three different countries, from China, from France, from Australia, to reach these individuals.

They finally called off all attempts, abandoned all efforts to try to get to them by sea, and got to them by helicopter instead after the winds had died down.

There are ferocious Antarctic blizzards down there, which prevented them from being airlifted off. They finally got them off and they were hopefully -- they were hoping they were going to be taking them home, but now they've got to stay there and do more work.

MALVEAUX: All right. Matthew, keep up with them if you will. We've got to follow this to the very end. We hope that they're going to be all right.

Thank you, Matthew. Appreciate this.

CHANCE: We have.

MALVEAUX: All right.

Well, as one winter emergency comes and goes, there's another one that is right behind it. Watch this.

This is Libertyville, Illinois. This is near the shore of Lake Michigan. Now, they got slammed with snow overnight just in time for the temperatures to start dropping.

We are talking about dropping a lot. Forecasters say the lows around Chicago this weekend will drop below zero and stay there below zero for several days.

Our Ted Rowlands, he's outside of Chicago in Naperville, Illinois, and Rene Marsh in Washington, D.C.,

You guys are brave. Let me tell you, Ted. I lived in Chicago. I know it is rough going there. But they have pride. I mean, they deal with the cold, severe cold, winter after winter. Did they expect this?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, yeah, definitely expect it coming. You hope it doesn't.

A couple winters ago, we actually had a great winter. There was hardly any days like this, but it happens and you know it's going to happen.