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Massive Storm Threatens To Cripple East Coast; 33 Million People Under Blizzard Warning; Thousands Stranded On Kentucky Highway. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired January 23, 2016 - 06:00   ET


CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: -- here. Right now, ten states and the District of Columbia under a state of emergency, nearly a quarter of a million people do not have power right now.

CNN is live up and down the east coast this morning tracking the storm as it threatens to cripple so many cities. Snow is falling right now in New York, in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, those are the major cities. Imagine the more rural areas.

I'm Christi Paul. We are so grateful to have you with us. Martin Savidge is in for Victor Blackwell in New York. He is going to give us more in just a moment.

But one of the most urgent situations right now is in Kentucky. Drivers are stranded on a snowy section of I-75. One stranded motorist telling CNN she hasn't moved an inch in 17 hours.

It's the nation's capital, though, that's getting the hardest. The capitol is taking a direct hit from this blizzard right now. Mass transit we know has been suspended in what is predicted to be one of the biggest storms in the city's history.

We've had several officials saying this is a life and death situation. We are keeping a close eye on New Jersey as well because residents of at least one town have been told to get out. Officials in the coastal township of Barnegat issuing a mandatory evacuation order.

Flood waters are threatening to overwhelm some low lying areas there. We will speak with Governor Chris Christie live a little bit later.

But we want to get to Martin Savidge here, I do believe. He is in New York right now. They are getting hit. We heard from our meteorologist, Martin, Derek Van Dam snow totals there expected to be even higher than initially thought. At least possibly 16 inches of snow there in New York. What are you seeing now?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: I would say we're on track to get that snowfall. Good morning to you, Christie. New York is feeling the brunt of the storm today. These are going to be the critical hours for many areas all along the eastern Seaborg today because this storm is almost as if it's getting new energy.

Some of that could become from the fact that it's now reaching the Atlantic Ocean and well, just face it. There is a whole load of precipitation that can be lifted up from that. So the combination of wind and heavy snowfall is going to play out dramatically throughout the day, all along the coastline.

It's not just the snow. There is, of course, the concern for flooding. This is going to be one for the record books him you can be sure.


SAVIDGE (voice-over): Check out the sheer size of this monster storm with a view from outer space as it bears down on 85 million Americans in 22 states.

(on camera): We want to know what you are dealing with out there. What are you dealing with interest?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is horrible out there. If you are home, stay there.

SAVIDGE: The storms are already responsible for numerous deaths including two people killed in North Carolina traffic accidents. Overnight the desperate situation along Interstate 75 in Kentucky. Drivers stranded after a series of crashes closed all lanes.

UNIDENTIFIED CALLER: It's like a complete standstill, people have their cars turned off to save tear gas. There is not much going on the north bound side, just a lot of snow blowing. It's very windy.

SAVIDGE: Meanwhile the nation's capital in Baltimore taking a direct hit, effectively shutting down those cities.

MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER, WASHINGTON: We see this as a major storm. It has life and death implications and all the residents of the District of Columbia should treat it that way.

SAVIDGE: The weather is expected to get even nastier. Two inches of snow may fall for hour in some spots. The projected extreme high end, 40 inches total accumulation and expect hurricane force wind gusts to hit the eastern seaboard with the possibility of flooding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flooding is a challenge for us. It was a big challenge during Sandy. We were hit very hard in James Port. Some of the storm surge came up almost a mile into our district.

SAVIDGE: Already, the impact numbers are staggering, around 1,000 car crashes in Virginia, 7,600 flight cancellations through Sunday and almost 150 power outages, all contributing to make this one of the worst storms on record.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could definitely do out it. I'd like to have that 60-degree weather back that we had in December.


SAVIDGE: The good news if there is good news out of this storm is the fact that it's hitting on a weekend. That allows people the opportunity, most people at least to hunker down.

However, there are some who have to be out and about or who are having problems as they move. We want to check in with Brian Todd now. He is in the Washington, D.C. area, where we understand you are at the scene of one of those problems.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Martin, we just came upon a scene of a problem here. We're in Greenbelt, Maryland on the capital beltway 495 heading north. We came upon this scene of two people being stuck and blocking a first reporter.

Out our dash cam, you can see, as we pull up to it, I will try to get out and talk to the dash cam. We can show you a little more with another camera, trying to get out with a snow grip is difficult.

[06:05:06]I'm in a snowdrift now seemingly about 2 feet deep, and I'll talk to the dash cam while my other camera prepares here. This is what we came upon moments ago.

This is an exit going on to 495 north. These two vehicles are stuck. The plows could not plow a hole through this. They tried to plow their own hole, got stuck.

Here you see it, a first responder can't get out of the highway to get to another scene up the road he needs to get to. The first responders are digging that first vehicle out there.

So now you can see how tough a job it is for the snowplows, for the salt trucks, the spreaders, to make these roads passable. We had a heck of a time getting to this spot on some roads that are usually pretty big and us as passable.

This is 495, basically, highways in this country don't get much bigger than this. There is no blacktop here. As you can see the roads are fairly slick.

There is snow pack so some of these vehicles can pass, but again this is the kind of situation we are running into. Exits are blocked. You cannot get onto the highway, in some cases off the highway, and once you do, some of these back roads, Martin, are completely impassable.

SAVIDGE: It's no wonder, Brian, that you can hear the warnings that have come from government officials saying don't go out and drive, but are you seeing people that are still going out this morning?

TODD: We are, Martin. What's surprising is the volume. Here we are at 6:00 in the morning Eastern Time on a Saturday, look at these trucks, AAA has warned tractor-trailer trucks not to go out on the road because of the dangerous jackknifing we had in this region.

Here, we can turn this camera around a little bit. If you can swing around here right. Now you got some people trying to come to the rescue of punching these people out.

You have another snowplow trying to get around other vehicles pulled over so they can get to this cut and punch a hole through so this fire truck can finally get out of here. But it may not be allowed for this plow to go through.

We saw a plow that size stuck in a snowdrift unable move. It looks like this guy may not be able to move. So again, people are coming onto the roads. They shouldn't be. They have been warned not to.

It's surprising to us to see on the roads at this time early on a Saturday morning where these conditions are so prevalent -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: All right. Brian Todd giving us a really dramatic look at the problems when it comes to travel and traffic in areas around the city of Baltimore.

It should be stressed do not go out if are you anywhere near this kind of storm. It has a cascading impact. You get stuck, which means first responders has to come to you. You tie up a whole system.

Derek Van Dam has been tracking the storm now. Let's get the latest on how it's developing and what we expect over the next few hours -- Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Martin, it's almost as if a figurative fuse has been lit. We have been talking about this in the CNN Weather Center with various meteorologists that once this low pressure system moves off the Carolina coast, it was going to feed into the moisture from the Atlantic Ocean and start to funnel in those heavier snow bands.

Unfortunately, we're seeing that press further and further north. That's going to continue to impact places like Baltimore, Washington, D.C. into the greater New York City area.

That is the region we have upped the accumulations for the next 24 hours. They'll highlight exactly where in one moment. There is our bull's eye, still over Washington and Philadelphia.

Notice the big apple. We have the potential for 12 maybe upwards of 18 locally for the metropolitan region there. Still 30-plus million Americans under a blizzard warning.

Remember that is not defined by amount of snowfall, but rather by visibilities being reduced by a quarter of a mile and winds over 35 miles per hour. That all happening over an extended period of time.

Here's the large scale system, the low pressure continues to deepen and strengthen up the east coast, and it's the winds that are a major factor. These are current wind gusts.

Atlantic City, 47 miles per hour, Ocean City at 44 miles per hour, this is all a sign that this storm is strengthening. We still have the worst to come because it will feed into that moisture again.

Look at the visibilities across this area, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a quarter of a mile, half a mile in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, all experiencing reduced visibilities.

That is a toll-tell sign that the blizzard effect is under the way as we speak. So the major concerns going forward. Obviously, our flight cancellations, road closures, and coastal erosion and power outages a concern for the entire New England coast. Martin, back to you.

[06:10:03]SAVIDGE: All right, Derek, it is a troubling thing to think that this storm is only getting more wound up rather than getting wound down at this particular vantage point.

We should also say that along the coastal areas the key hours will be between 7:00 and 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time. High tides are expected combine that with heavy winds and you could see that there is a real problem for coastal flooding.

New York City, Mayor Bill De Blasio says that they are ready and coping. However, this is not a storm that anyone should be going out in. You ride this one out at home.

They are trying to keep the roadways opened, but that is for first responders. That is not for people to be driving around the city on any kind of pleasure drive. Let's get back down to Atlanta and Christi.

PAUL: All right, Martin, very good advice there. Thank you so much. But there are some people that just didn't get that advice in time.

I want to tell you about a woman we spoke about a moment ago. Her name is April Gilliam-Montesinos. She is stranded right now with her two daughters and her father who is a diabetic on I-75 in Kentucky.

They have been there since 1:00 yesterday afternoon, not moving. For 18 hours, imagine this, sitting in a car. These are some of the pictures she is showing us. She is not alone. She and her father have gotten up, walked a little bit.

What they're really concerned about is the fact that they've run out of food. They've run out of water. They have been trying to get ahold of the Kentucky state police to come out and help them.

But right now, as of right now, they have not been able to get any help. Here's what she told us.


PAUL: How are you holding up, first of all? And have you been getting out and talking to people in other vehicles?

APRIL GILLIAM-MONTESINOS, STRANDED ON KENTUCKY HIGHWAY (via telephone): We have to keep, my dad and I are kind of walking back and forth. He is talking to other people in vehicles, but very frustrating because, you know, you are in a car, you are not comfortable. You are cramped.

We have made multiple phone calls to the Kentucky state police. We keep getting the same story like ten hours ago, they told us, we'll have you out in no time. We have not heard anything else.

You know, my dad's a diabetic. I have two kids in here that are 14 and 4 that are hungry. We ran out of stuff a long time ago.

PAUL: How is your father doing?

MONTESINOS: He's doing OK. One of the police officer, I did tweet something, Kentucky state police. They sent an officer out here. He didn't know what he was coming out here for. So he didn't bring anything with him.

So he actually gave my dad his own snacks so my dad's blood sugar wouldn't drop. They said they'd have Red Cross out here, people are going by giving blankets, water and food. Nobody has seen any of that.

PAUL: I know your daughters are 14 and 4-years-old. How are they holding up other than being hungry?

MONTESINOS: Well, the 14-year-old really wants to go home. My 4- year-old actually fell asleep about an hour-and-a-half ago and they're just hungry. They want to go home to a warm place. They don't want to be in the car any longer.


PAUL: Can you imagine sitting there for almost 18 hours at this point. You heard her talk about how she has called the Kentucky state police that very kind officer came out and gave the snack to her father because her father is a diabetic. They want to make sure his blood levels were consistent there.

But we should point out, she said that they told her the Red Cross was out there. They haven't seen them yet. We are talking to the Kentucky state police here on the other side of this break. Hopefully, they'll have more answers.

For all of those folks who are stuck on I-75, if they can't at least get them moving. We will ask them if there is any way to get help to these folks because God forbid, you are sitting there 18 hours, if a medical emergency comes up, what do you do? More with that in just a moment. Stay close.



PAUL: Buses, cars, semis, all still backed up on a Kentucky highway and you just heard April Gilliam-Montesinos there who has been stranded there for 18 hours with her father and two daughters in a car crunched in between trucks who are also stranded saying they can't get help right now.

State Trooper Kendra Wilson is there as well though, we should point out, and she is on the phone with us here. Kendra, thank you so much for taking time to be with us here because I know you have a lot on your plate right now.

Can you give me an assessment of the situation on I-75 right now? How expansive is that backup in this stretch of cars?

Kendra, can you hear me?

KENDRA WILSON, KENTUCKY STATE TROOPER (via telephone): Yes, I'm sorry.

PAUL: That's OK. Can you tell me how bad the backup is right now on that stretch of I-75?

WILSON: Well, it is a complete standstill at this point, for southbound traffic. We are encouraging people in the area to not come out and be on the interstate. It has been an ongoing situation for the past 18 hours.

We do and are working closely with the local public safety, the fire department there in the area. They are trying to get fuel to motorists whose vehicles have run out of fuel.

We're trying to get water and food to those mothers that's going around in the area to try to make sure everyone is safe and secure. Most of the northbound traffic has been cleared this morning so northbound is moving.

We have people who have abandoned vehicles in the middle of the roadway. So those vehicles, the National Guard is going to take those vehicles out of the way so we can get traffic moving.

It's a really treacherous stretch of road. The vehicles are sitting on a solid sheet of ice. So we just have to be very careful that there are not secondary problems that have arrived from the initial problems there, which is all the caution there.

But we don't want to see any fatal accidents out there. We want to clear this quickly and safely as possible for everyone concerned.

PAUL: Of course. After 18 hours, though, a lot of people are sitting there saying, why is it taking so long? Was the road not cleared initially? Was there somebody that wasn't prepared for this? How did the backup initially start?

WILSON: Well, the area, itself, is more of a rural mountainous area. It tends to have a lot of problems. Our state road departments have worked diligently night and day to try to keep this cleared, but it's a very unsafe area.

[06:20:00]And I'm sure that they will look into why there has been a more severe problem in the area today and in the past few hours, but at this point we have to deal with what we have.

PAUL: Of course.

WILSON: We have to take the problem at hand and we have to really work to make sure that it's all cleared out safely. We are encouraging motorists if they do have a specific medical emergency, I know they are uncomfortable. We are working as hard as we can to get those cars cleared out to get those cleared, but if they have a specific emergency, we do request they call 911, they will help us get to them as quickly as possible.

We have Kentucky state police on scene. We have local law enforcement, local public safety. We have the fire department. We have EMS. So we will get to you as soon as we can.

PAUL: OK. I'll ask one real quick question.


PAUL: As we look at some of these pictures, these lines look so long, can you give me an assessment or a gauge as to how big this backup is, miles wise, five miles? What do you know?

WILSON: It's approximately from what we've seen, we are clearing a little at a time as quickly as we can, but it's about from mile marker 76 to mile marker 41 southbound on 75. So that's quite a stretch of roadway.

PAUL: Yes.

WILSON: And it's just going to take time to get it cleared because the conditions haven't improved.

PAUL: So it's 35 miles long is what you are telling me?

WILSON: Yes, ma'am.

PAUL: OK and -- OK.

WILSON: We have the National Guard there.

PAUL: You have the Red Cross there, I understand?

WILSON: Yes, ma'am. So we have every emergency service and every emergency worker we can and available out there, if a motorist doesn't appear to be in distress as your earlier caller stated, we have people to go by to check on general welfare.

Flag somebody down if there is a problem. Call 911 and we will get help to you as soon as possible if there is an immediate emergency. The discomfort of being stuck there on the roadway. They need to stay if their vehicles, stay warm.

If they think fuel is getting low, if they think there is a problem, then just contact us.

PAUL: OK, Kendra Wilson with the Kentucky state police. We know you have a really difficult task ahead of you today. Thank you so much.

WILSON: Thank you.

PAUL: (Inaudible) 35 miles is the stretch of these cars and trucks and buses that are sitting there stranded in this ice and snow, and we know as Derek Van Dam said, this is not, this is an area that is not going to get over the freezing mark possibly today.

So we don't know what how that will be fixed necessarily. We will continue to check in with Kendra Wilson and with April Gilliam to make sure everybody is OK there.

But again as you heard, Miss Wilson say there, do not abandon your car. That's a part of their problem, people getting out of the car, abandoning it in the middle of the road. Then people have no place to go.

Our coverage continues of this deadly blizzard affecting millions along the eastern seaboard. A live report from New York with the very latest when NEW DAY continues. Stay close.



SAVIDGE: I'm Martin Savidge in New York City, where, like much of the eastern seaboard, they are trying to make it through this incredible storm that has struck and continues to pound this area. It's expected to be the way throughout much of the day.

Anticipating in New York City maybe as much as 16 inches of snow. That's a part of the problem. High gusty winds will cause it to drift. Right now it's falling faster than they can clear it from the streets.

There is the concern of coastal flooding. But if there is one thing we do know is that there is a lot of company when it comes to misery.

We want to check in with the city of Baltimore and go to the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management, where we are going to get a read out on what's happening down there. Let's start with you. Go ahead.


SAVIDGE: Struggling.

MALONEY: Yes, so we're still able to navigate the city especially for emergency services. We're in response mode continuity of operations is essential. We have a lot of major hospitals, they're all staffed. Who is there is there.

We've had no major issues except I guess about 45 minute ago, we had a fire in the northeast section of the city. We know we have one serious injury, but the fire department was able to get in and we have snowplows deployed with those companies.

We expect more today. Responding to normal emergencies that happen. Some that are weather related. We just want to be able to get the people and provide the necessary help. This storm is very humbling.

We got here about it looks like ten more hours of the snow. The wind will continue. We're like everyone else when something happens, we just want to get there and help people and then see our way through this.

SAVIDGE: It's Robert Maloney, right. I don't want to get it wrong, correct?

MALONEY: That's right.

SAVIDGE: I want to check, you sigh you got at least another ten hours that you are anticipating. Do you think you've turned the corner as far as snowfall or are you still expecting a lot of that?

MALONEY: No, we haven't turned the corner at all. I wouldn't say we're halfway there yet and you know, the National Weather Service, our local guys are great. The wind forecasts have been spot on and the prediction of the 60 miles per hour. We haven't hit that yet.

But, you know, those are again that's a humbling wind factor and you know throughout the course of the day, if it picks up, we expect problems from that.

We in 2010, we can look at our numbers. When you have snowfall, this impact you will have collapse issues, structures that go down. People that get trapped. You will have fires.

We're ready for that, you know I think we hope we are equal to whatever comes our way and you know we can keep people safe within it does happen.

But this is not normal business at all in any of these cities up and down the east coast and we're in a different mode of operations. We're pulling together in Baltimore, citizens and those of us working for the city together.

SAVIDGE: All right, Robert Maloney there with the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management. Thank you very much for that update there. Words are hard to come out when you are frozen.

You can see here in New York City that this area is getting blasted. He mentioned a couple times the humbling impact of this. It really is. This is when you find out the nature rules the roost.

Boris Sanchez is standing by in New Jersey because the concern there is not just the snowfall, but of course, the high winds and then the problem of either coastal erosion or coastal flooding. So let's get back to him -- Boris.

BORIS SANCHEZ: Hey, Martin. I can tell you in just the past hour, the wind and snow have really picked up here. We've seen the lights start flickering on and off.

We just got numbers a few moments ago from Atlantic County and where we are right now. More than 900 people are without power.

So, obviously officials are dealing with that. But as you mentioned, the snow is only supposed to say in the single digits here. The big concern is coastal flooding. We're looking at a bay behind me where the water keeps creeping up

minute by minute. It's fewer than six inches from coming over the harbor and into this area where there are residents and businesses.

In terms of preparations, the people here, it kind of caught me off guard. There's not very many sandbags outside of homes or other kinds of preparations.

But we spoke to a neighbor yesterday who was here for Sandy. And he told me that the general sentiment is the water is going to do what the water is going to do. And that sandbags are only going to do so much.

So, essentially they're keeping their fingers crossed hoping that even though the water may come over, it won't affect them as badly obviously as it did in 2012 with Sandy.

Aside from that, I can tell you that it could potentially be made worse because of the fact that we have a full moon coincidentally following on this storm. So, as we get closer to high tide just before 8:00 a.m., that's when we'll know exactly how much water is going to come over that harbor and into this neighborhood, Martin.

SAVIDGE: Yes, Boris, you know, I could imagine the people there are anxious. Admittedly it's not going to be hopefully anywhere near what Sandy was. But still, memories of that and then you see this again.

I'm sure people there are quite concerned. Yes, that was actually a question. So, Boris, and I'm just wondering. What are people saying and fearing there?

SANCHEZ: I'm sorry, Martin, I couldn't hear you for a second there. Similar to what we heard from that neighbor as I said, there are not very many people getting prepared. We've seen only a handful of sandbags put out in front of businesses since last night.

Essentially, the sentiment is that they're just bracing themselves to see what happens. Fortunately, it's the time of year where there are not that many people out here in these neighborhoods.

This is more of a summer community. And so, a lot of these homes are empty. But then again, there are still some neighbors sticking around and bracing themselves for what's to come.

SAVIDGE: Yes, and watching for that 8 o'clock high tide, and we will, too. So, we'll check back with you, Boris. New York City is not just the only city suffering. But it's one of the biggest ones that is suffering through this storm.

We want to check in now with Jean Casarez. She's not that far away from me, over there in Times Square; which is usually the crossroads of the world. Although, I imagine right now, it's rather quiet. Jean?

JEAN CASAREZ: You know, Marty, the city that doesn't sleep. It's virtually asleep. It's really immobilized here. I mean, it's hard to get attacked. So, you're not seeing cars on the road.

They're expecting 12 to 18 inches of snow in New York City. It's coming down hard, wet, and fast right now. That was one to 1.5 feet. I want to show you behind me here.

Look, you've got snow blowers. And he's actually going the other way. But it's sort of a mini snowplow. Because you can't have the really big trucks right here in Times Square in New York City. But they're doing everything they can to try to carve out some roadways here as the city begins to wake up.

But the Department of Transportation has given 200 snowplows for the New York City area. Four hundred extra personnel are here. And there are 600 National Guard that are ready and willing to work if called out today. Now, as far as the airports, they are canceling flights.

They are continuing to cancel the flights. Many were canceled yesterday, the three major airports for the New York City area; JFK, La Guardia, and Newark. So, talk to your airline. But they do have hundreds of thousands of gallons of de-icers for the planes that will be taking off.

And as far as salt for the road, 38,000 tons of salt are ready to be put on the roadways of New York City and the different Boroughs. Marty?

SAVIDGE: And Jean, I know it's early. But I'm just wondering what about foot traffic? You were saying that cars might have a difficult time getting around. But then there were the people. Do you see those out and about yet?

CASAREZ: There are a couple of cars, a few cars, but virtually nothing else. It's just that situation that we've seen in New York City and before where it is immobilized. People are being told to stay off the streets.

In fact, yesterday the Governor said don't go on the streets. Don't drive unless you really have to. Because you're not only endangering yourself, you're endangering the emergency personnel that are out there to help us all. And so, they're really telling people to stay at home. And at this point this morning, people are heeding that.

SAVIDGE: Yes, good advice and well they should. In fact, we'll have Governor Andrew Cuomo on in just a little while later this morning to give us an update on the situation in New York.

And then Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey also to give us an update. Jean Casarez, thanks very much, my fellow storm buddy here in New York City. We'll be checking back with her as well. So, you know, this situation in much of this area, we cannot stress is really dire.

I mean, you - we talk about modern cities and how they have an ability to cope. But you can't really cope with the snowfalls this fast, and when the temperatures remain this low, and then winds continue to blow as hard as they are. So, this is pretty much where you've got a blizzard in full force and

very much in the driver's seat. And people here have to remain sheltered. If you're on the roads, get off of them. Because First Responders have to have the number one priority when it comes to getting by and getting to where they are needed most.

And we're continuing to follow that very dire situation in Kentucky and the highway there where it appears that there may be thousands of people trapped on a 35 mile stretch of roadway there. If you're listening to us, make sure you continue to keep the snow away from the tailpipe of the car. Carbon monoxide would be a concern for you.

Hopefully help will soon be on the way. We'll be back with more after this.


CHRISTI PAUL: I want to show you some of the blizzard areas that are really feeling all of this ridiculous weather this morning that is so ferocious. In Virginia, a state trooper was injured while trying to help a stranded driver. Trooper MD Jesstoll (ph), we understand suffered some minor injuries was his patrol car was rear ended.

Virginia authorities say they've responded to nearly 1,000 accidents and another 800 disabled vehicles. Now, this storm is really affecting Tennessee, too; Nashville facing the biggest snowstorm in 13 years. At least eight inches of snow expected to fall.

Authorities there are also warning residents to stay off the roads. And we're going to take you to Georgia too to steer you to what's happening there. One of ten states under a state of emergency this morning.

Drivers have reported snow and ice on the roads there. The concern is the ice weighing down trees and power lines, which cause them to snap and people have an interruption of their power. And it also causes such dangerous driving conditions.

Let's take you to Chicago, United Flight 374, it partially rolled off a runway at O'Hare International. Now (ph), no one was injured thankfully. And a United spokesman says weather obviously appeared to be a factor in that.

And New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has abruptly returned home from the campaign trail to declare a state of emergency there. The Republican presidential candidate was facing some criticism from a lot of people who say he was putting politics above his day job as governor. And he fought back those claims last night. Take a look.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-NEW JERSEY: So, the reporting that I wasn't coming back was wholly inaccurate, and, you know, it didn't put into effect the words that I used. Am I coming home? I have no plans to come home. The circumstances got worse and clarified. So, as soon as it did, then I came home.

But if the storm blew out to sea and I came home, I'd look pretty stupid. And so, the fact is that you make the decision when you have clarity on what the circumstances are going to be.

I had clarity this morning at 11 o'clock after that briefing that the storm was going to come here. And it was going to be of some measure of significance.

Once I knew it was going to come on shore, hit here, and have some measure of significance in certain parts of the state, then my decision was easy. If that was going to happen, I was coming home.

And that's what I said even as far back as Wednesday. I said, if I'm needed at home, I will come home. At this point, I'm not needed there.

The Lieutenant Governor is here. The rest of the cabinet is here. I'm getting ready to do a briefings. And if I feel as if there's a need for me to come home, I will.

If it turns out not to be a need for me to come home, I won't. I made that decision at the moment that you needed to make the decision. And I got here before one flight fell on the ground -

PAUL: Now, Governor Christie will join us live at 7:00 a.m. Eastern. We're going to get the latest on the impact storms, this storm has had on New Jersey. And we await to see what's going to happen there and Margate, the City of New Jersey, and that inlet barrier island where the water is inching very close to coming over that harbor.

Also, we're going to talk politics. It's chance (ph), you know, at the heart of this campaign trail that he's in the middle of it and dealing with this blizzard at the same time that it's hitting the state.

So, we'll talk about all of that. But our coverage is continuing. Of this deadly blizzard, eight people have died; 150,000 do not have power. And a lot of officials are calling this a life or death storm.


SAVIDGE: I'm Martin Savidge in New York City where this blizzard continues to cause havoc along the Eastern Seaboard. It is really coming down here in the Big Apple, although with the wind at times, the snow just seems to be horizontal. And it's going to be like this throughout much of the day.

But let's find out where it might be improving. And for that we turn to Polo Sandoval. He's in Charlotte. They had to battle this weather yesterday.

So, please, give us some hope, Polo. How are things now?

POLO SANDOVAL: Yes, absolutely Marty. You know, much of the story here is since the snowfall has been reduced to flurries is the ice. I'm going to reach down for a quick second, Marty so I can show you.

Really much of yesterday we watched frozen precipitation fall here in North Carolina. And it all accumulated. So what folks here have had to deal with is really just ice that's accumulated. And not just on the roadways but also on the sidewalks.

We heard from the local mayor here, Marty. Who said that even walking around here is treacherous since it is quite slippery.

So, authorities this morning now with the snowfall really quite limited are reminding folks to be extra cautious if they're - whether they're out walking or simply driving around.

Sadly, at least two more fatalities overnight, bringing the total to at least eight weather related traffic accidents here in the region. So, that is definitely something that authorities are trying to do. Monitor those roads and highways; they're also trying to restore power.

This morning we got reports now there's at least 150,000 people in the Mid-Atlantic without power. Authorities are reminding folks that it's going to take a while to get those lines back up and running. And again, this is simply ice.

It's something that in the northern region of the country, Marty, it may not really be a big deal. But for southerners like myself, this is something that's very difficult to walk in, and also to drive in since they're not used to it.

And it's weather that it's, simply you don't want to see especially ahead of tomorrow's NFC Championship game, which is really what everybody is talking about this morning.

At last check, that game is still going on as scheduled. Here in Charlotte, Marty.

SAVIDGE: Well, at least there's a, you know, an indication that at some point this is only going to let up. And you're it (ph), Polo. So, we appreciate that. But now, let's go from what was better and back into the bad.

In other words, the bullseye of this blizzard, which is Washington, D.C. And Chris Frates is standing out in it for us. Chris, which is this going to subside down there?

CHRIS FRATES: Well, I'll tell you, Marty. We're probably only about halfway through this storm. And unlike Polo, who is starting to enjoy a little bit better weather, we're still seeing this thing come through in bands.

We've been hit this morning by a couple of big bands. Right now, we're in a little bit lighter of one. But I can tell you since we've been out here this morning, an inch or more has already fallen for a total of about a foot; which is - this thing got going yesterday afternoon. And what we're seeing around town, it's still pretty quiet as, you know, everybody stays hunkered down.

Officials are telling everybody, hey just stay at home. Power outage wise, everybody still has their lights and heats on around the - around the area. Maryland and D.C., not saying that there's many outages. Virginia, it has only experienced about 5,500 outages that's out of 2.5 million. So, that's good news.

One of the big things officials were worried about was the high winds. We've not experienced too high of winds yet. But they're saying that there could be gusts of up to 40 miles per hour. That will take down trees, and power lines of course.

They have warming centers set up throughout this city in case that starts to happen. And they're ready for that. But fortunately so far, we haven't seen that. And the roads are also a bit treacherous.

They're trying to keep them passable as much as they can. The emergency routes are being plowed. But I wouldn't recommend going out on these streets. There's still a lot of snow on the ground. And the side streets are rather impassable.

We saw in Virginia as of late last night, more than 1,000 wrecks, 800 disabled cars. So, if you go out there, you're taking your chances that you might get stranded. We've heard some stories around the country where folks have been stranded.

So, officials here saying that this storm is no joke, calling it life or death. In fact, the emergency management director here yesterday saying that this storm will be deadly and to stay off the roads.

So, as picturesque as it might be when day starts to break, keep the sledding to your yard. Don't go driving to the Hill. Keep your cross-country skis in the basement until tomorrow when they think this storm will start to wrap up.

And it's going to go through day and into the night. We're only about halfway through it at this point. And they're saying stay hunkered down. Chill out, you know, and keep it tuned to CNN, and tomorrow will be a day where you can - you can go outside and enjoy it, Marty.

SAVIDGE: You know, we've had storms in the past, Chris, where they haven't lived up to billing. But this is definitely not one of those. I mean, this storm is panning out to - it may actually getting worse than what they had been initially predicted.

People there in that area had been warned that it was going to be bad. Did you see signs that they were stocking up and getting ready perhaps for the long hunker down period?

FRATES: Absolutely, we saw both from officials. We were out in the salt domes around the city yesterday; 39,000 tons of salt across the city. That is capacity. And just by the numbers, 200 plow trucks, 150 dump trucks, and 50 front end loaders to try to keep these streets treated before the storm rolled in. And then, to keep them plowed and try and keep the snow off of them as best they can.

And we saw runs on store shelves. We saw heaters, shovels. I talked to one neighbor who had said that they went to the hardware store to pick up a sled. That they had gotten a fresh shipment. They were there for an hour and a half, Martin.

So, you know, people were really getting ready for this storm. Bread and beer was hard to find in some places. And it turned out that this was - this is living up to the hype as you say. Because, you know, we're at 6:00 in the morning. And we're only halfway through this bad boy, Martin.

SAVIDGE: Yes, bread and beer, what an indicator. Alright, Chris Frates, thanks very much for that. And you may not hear it, but the wind here is really starting to rock the position where we are on the edge of Central Park.

The wind is going to play a significant role. Because it's going to cause the drifting on top of the snow coming down.

Right now, it is not possible to keep up with the rates of drifting and falling snow. We'll be back with more on this blizzard right after this.


PAUL: I'm going to show you a live picture of what's happening in Baltimore right now. Thirty-three million people obviously under a blizzard warning. And Baltimore's Mayor's Office of Emergency Management official, Robert Maloney said this storm - he called it very humbling.

Saying this is not normal business; we're in a different mode of operation here. Because we know that Baltimore is expecting 19 to 29 inches of snow predicted. And they've had some real problems with, even an emergency vehicle that was stuck behind a car in the snow. That emergency vehicle trying to get somebody and couldn't do so because somebody else was on the road there. So, there's a live picture again of the snow that is coming down.

And forecasters saying listen, this is in pretty much the middle of the storm. This may not even be the worst that this thing can punch out before all is said and done. So, we're going to obviously continue to follow this throughout the morning.

But we did want to talk a little bit of politics, too. Because there's this new national poll that shows Donald Trump with a sizeable lead over rival Ted Cruz. So, we have a statement (ph) ((inaudible)) that leads (ph) Cruz 34 to 20 percent in this FOX news poll. Now the numbers are coming with the Iowa caucuses, of course, just eight days away.

And that fight that is going on within the GOP regarding the direction of the party. Sunlen Serfaty is following that part of the story for us in Iowa.

SUNLEN SERFATY: Good morning, Christi. Well this is a real struggle going on right now within the establishment gooing over the Republican Party. In one corner you can have those who are very intent on stopping Donald Trump. And in the other are those trying to take down Ted Cruz.

DONALD TRUMP: People don't even think about the national reviews. SERFATY: In an unprecedented move, the conservative magazine, The National Review out with a complete and total takedown of Trump, calling Trump a menace to American conservatism who would take the work of generations and trample it underfoot on behalf of a populism as he lives (ph) in crude (ph) as the Donald himself.

A special issue with essays from over 20 respective conservatives piling on. Trump trying to brush it off.

TRUMP: No, that's a dying paper. It's pretty much of a dead paper.

SERFATY: And Cruz continuing to be raked over the coals by establishment Republicans with take downs this week from Iowa's Republican Governor, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley and former presidential nominee, Bob Dole who called Cruz an extremist who would bring cataclysmic and wholesale losses to the party, if he wins.

The chaos underscores just ten days to the Iowa caucuses how much the establishment wing of the Republican Party is still deeply dissatisfied with the front runners. But with Trump and Cruz on top in the polls, the decision the party is now forced into facing who will do more harm to the party long-term.

LINDSEY GRAHAM: You know, whether it's death by being short or poisoning, does it really matter?

SERFATY: As both men face incoming from their parities, the two continue to inflict serious blows on each other.

TRUMP: Cruz is going down. He had his moment and he blew it.

SERFATY: Trump unloading on Cruz, releasing his first negative TV ad today, a hit on Cruz, painting him as pro-amnesty (ph).

CRUZ: I want immigration reform to pass.

SERFATY: And Cruz now hammering Trump in his own ad on eminent domain, the government's power to seize private property for public use.

TRUMP: I think eminent domain is wonderful.

SERFATY: - Portray the real estate developer as just a power hungry land snatcher, an issue that resonates with New Hampshire voters.

CRUZ: He supports using government power to seize private people's homes to give them to giant corporations to say hypothetically, they will see.

SERFATY: Trump today shooting back, tweeting in response, quote, "Without it, we wouldn't have roads, highways, airports, schools, or even pipelines."

And the RNC has responded to the National Review's take down of Donald Trump. They had basically disinvited them from participating in next month's Republican debate right here on CNN. Christi - PAUL: Sulen, thank you. And a programming note, exactly one week

before the Iowa caucuses, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley face to face with the voters in Iowa in a CNN Democratic Presidential Town Hall. Live from Des Moines are Chris Cuomo to (ph) moderate.

It is the final pitch for all of the candidates before the first votes are cast. And a unique opportunity really for Iowans to ask questions of these three Democrats.

That's Monday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern live only on CNN. At the top of the hour, thousands of people are stuck on a Kentucky highway. More on that in a moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN, Breaking News.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As far as an indication of when we'll be out of here, we don't know. We had an indication 12 hours ago that the interstate would probably be open then. And it's just not happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The storm here in North Carolina turning deadly. At least four people have died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You hope for the best and you prepare for the worst.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Governor is saying that 600 National Guard members are on standby in case they are needed.