Return to Transcripts main page


Massive Storm May Dump Two Feet Of Snow Of New York City; Thirty Three Million People Under Blizzard Warning; Ten States Have Declared State Of Emergency; Blizzard Warnings In Effect In Virginia; Family Stuck On Kentucky Highway All Night; Trump Holds Big Lead Over Cruz. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired January 23, 2016 - 05:00   ET



[05:00:04] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Eighty five million of you waking up in the path of this, a potentially devastating winter storm this morning and the worst we're told may be yet to come. 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. CNN is live up and down the east coast this morning tracking the storm as it threatens to cripple so many of you in so many cities.

We know snow is falling right now in major cities like New York, Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. So those are some of the live pictures you're seeing right there. We'll take you to this all morning long.

Wishing you the very best as we say good morning to you. I'm Christi Paul and we also have with us today Martin Savidge, who is in that thick of things in for Victor Blackwell. Good morning, Martin.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: Good morning. This is really a storm that will go down in the record books, certainly in the memories of millions and millions of Americans along the east coast.

New York is just starting to feel the brunt of it. What is clear today, Christi, is that whatever happened yesterday, Friday, for most of the mid-Atlantic and the eastern seaboard, that was the warm-up.

Today will be the real deal in many areas, blizzard warnings in full effect. Coastal flood warnings and that is equally a concern in many areas as much as the snowfall.

We're here in Columbus Circle on the edge of Central Park. And it is going to be an intense day of snowfall. It could be up to 2 feet in this city, as well. Nationwide, it is really going to be a struggle on the east coast.


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 their 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 per 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: A lot of people would like to see that weather come back. Right now New York City, you can see near whiteout conditions and we're only getting started.

There are over 1,600 plows from the Sanitation Department that are out over 600 salt spreaders. But here is the problem, it is falling far faster than anybody can clear it and that is going to be the struggle.

We want to check in now Washington, D.C., this has been the epicenter of this incredible blizzard. Chris Frates is there. He has been riding it out. Chris, how are things now?

CHRIS FRATES, CNN INVESTIGATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Martin. So we've seen a bunch of snow coming down this morning. We've got about 11 inches on the ground that since this thing started yesterday afternoon, and it just keeps coming.

We got hit with a band just about an hour ago bringing 2 inches an hour. And what we're seeing along the roads is that these things are passable. They're keeping the emergency routes open, but I wouldn't recommend anybody getting out will and trying their hand at it.

The side streets are in pretty, pretty bad shape. I want to give you some numbers. Just here in the District of Columbia, 200 plows on the road, 150 dump trucks, 50 front end loaders. That's all to move 39,000 tons of salt.

There are salt domes all throughout this city and they are filled to capacity, but so far the lights are on, Martin. We're seeing that power in Virginia and Maryland not too many outages.

[05:05:03]For instance in Virginia, 8,500 people are without power. That's about 2.5 million and a couple hundred it looks like out in the District of Columbia and the Maryland suburbs.

So far people are able to keep their lights on. Visibility here, not so great. You might be able to see behind me a shot of the capitol. Usually that is clear as day.

So you can get a sense of how this snow is coming down by checking out the visibility behind me. We expect that this will continue to come down. Officials warning stay inside all day long.

Muriel Bowser, the mayor of D.C. said that this is a life and death situation and her Emergency Management director went further saying that this storm will be fatal, stay off the roads.

So as picturesque as it may be to get out here in the winter wonderland, they're saying leave the sleds and cross country skis at home.

Wait until tomorrow because the high winds liking to kick through. It's 50 miles an hour. They could bring down trees and power lines. So just sit tight. We are not out of the woods yet. In fact, Martin, we're just getting started.

SAVIDGE: Chris, thanks very much. I would say that the tree line we're just entering it here in New York City. Certainly not out of the woods. You mentioned a good point, power.

That is a tremendous concern because snow is, of course, a hazard, but if you're without electricity, then it becomes down right potentially deadly.

So that will be something we will watch throughout the day as the winds pick up most especially. The other thing we're worried about is coastal flooding.

And in a lot of areas on the coast that is even more of a concern than the snowfall. Boris Sanchez is standing by in Margate, New Jersey. How are things there, Boris? BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Martin. The snow has been falling at a steady clip since about 6:00 to 7 p.m. last night. We're expecting to get in the low single digits here.

The big concern, though, as you mentioned is the flooding. To give you an idea of where we are, this is a barrier island. The ocean is just to the east of us.

To the west, there is a bay and this bay is about a foot to 18 inches from overflowing in to this harbor. The big concern is that this is an inland.

The snow continues falling. It turns in to rain. The water will continue rising and we're dealing with high tide, as well. High tide supposed to hit it just before 8:00 a.m.

Coincidently on the day of this storm, there is a full moon, so high tide expected to be extra high and potentially come over this harbor and into these businesses and residences where Sandy hit just a few years ago -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: Yes, Sandy was clearly the benchmark for everyone and the worry is, of course, what will it be like this time around? The initial forecast, of course, not as bad, but if you're someone who went through Sandy and suffered the tremendous loss, that's not really reassuring.

You will have to wait and see how this rides out. What we want to do now is tell you about a situation that's developing on I-75 in Kentucky.

This is a stretch of highway. If you've driven that road, many people go from the north down to Florida, that is a route you commonly take. Very treacherous even in good weather because of the extreme mountainous conditions that you run into there.

And anytime there is snow like this, there are problems, and there are significant ones right now and it could involve life and death with potentially hundreds of people trapped with no way to get off that highway.

We want to check in with a reporter now who is stuck in that traffic jam. We understand has been there since last evening. And I couldn't hear the name over all the noise in the back ground here, but go ahead if you joined us on the line and tell me who you are.

CAITLIN SENTNER, WKYT REPORTER (via telephone): Caitlin Sentner (ph) with WKYT. Nice to talk with you.

SAVIDGE: Thank you, Caitlin. Good to talk to you. How are you doing?

SENTNER: We are doing good. We are about 20 minutes from being here for 12 hours. But there are people here probably four to five hours longer than us. SAVIDGE: Are you still there, I'm sorry? I got broken up here. Go ahead. Now, let me ask you this because I've been in the situation you're in. First of all, you've got gas, right, you've got at least hopefully some bare minimum emergency supplies and what about the people around you?

SENTNER: We do. We have a little more than a full tank of gas. So we are good on that. And we don't have any water, but we're surviving right now. We have a family behind us, they're actually traveling from Detroit down to Georgia. They were hoping to make to a funeral Saturday morning.

So they seem to be in good spirits the last time we talked with them. But I have been following Twitter, a lot of people talking with Kentucky state police saying they need food and water.

SAVIDGE: And what about have you had contact, I mean, has the state police, the National Guard or any kind of emergency people been by to check on you and given you any indication how long you will be trapped where you are?

[05:10:12]SENTNER: They have not. I have seen on Twitter that they were at a certain mile marker an hour or two ago, but we have not the seen them come by here. They have been responding to people on Twitter saying they will get there.

But 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.

SAVIDGE: The difficulty on that particular highway, first of all, it tends to start off with a freezing rain or snow and then the heavy semis have a hard time going up and down the hills and then when they get bogged down, everybody behind them gets bogged down. You are not moving at all, correct?

SENTNER: No, we have not moved an inch since we got here.

SAVIDGE: OK, and you're all right even though I'm sure it is extremely difficult and uncomfortable.

SENTNER: It's a little uncomfortable, but my photographer and I were just saying we have been here since about 5:30 Friday night and it doesn't feel like it's been 12 hours. So I think that is a good thing. Keeping busy talking with the station this morning is definitely helping to keep us awake and keep us going.

SAVIDGE: Right. This is definitely a circumstance where neighbor has to help neighbor or in this case car helping car checking on people and keeping track of people.

And we will do that as far as staying in touch with you because this situation could be one of the most dire as it develops during the day. I don't think you will be going unfortunately anywhere in a near hurry.

Meanwhile, we want to check in on the forecasting. For that, let's go back down to Atlanta. How to things look for the hours ahead?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, Martin, discussing the things that are taking place in Kentucky at the moment, the reason they're in this situation is because you get a combination of half an inch of ice and upwards of 12 to 18 inches of snow.

You can imagine what kind of pandemonium that causes on a major thoroughfare like Interstate 75. But currently our nor'easter is gathering some steam across the east coast.

The low pressure system not starting to transfer its energy right along the coastline and really drawing a lot of our moisture from the Atlantic Ocean.

And with it comes the heavy snow bands from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, Philadelphia, and new from our overnight period if you're just tuning into us, New York City now starting to experience some heavier snow bands, as well.

We've had to increase our forecast totals for this particular city, 16 inches not out of the question. We have over 30 million people under winter storm warnings, over 33 million with blizzard warning including Long Island all the way to the nation's capital.

Here is the bull's-eye, still over Maryland and southern sections of Pennsylvania, but look at this into New York City, we have extended again that 1-foot total and potentially even more for some of the southern suburbs as well.

Take a look at the wind forecast here. That is a full blown blizzard when you have 65 to 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts. Christi, back to you.

PAUL: All right, Derek, thank you so much. We appreciate it. We'll get back to Martin too as well. As you just heard Derek say, forecasting even more snow in New York than they had initially planned.

Listen, in addition to our coverage of this snowstorm, we're talking to a number of newsmakers including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie leaving the campaign trail returning to his home state to deal with so much of what you're looking at today. That is coming up at 7:00.

And then at 8:00 Eastern, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also bracing for this storm. He is going to be with us. Those conversations are straight ahead right here on CNN.

Also our coverage is continuing as we take a look next at what it's doing for air travel. If you're flying, what does it mean for you?

We'll check in with the Virginia National Guard, as well, for a live update on how the storm is affecting that state.

And we're covering other news, as well, a deadly mass shooting in a small town in Canada, at least four people killed, several injured. That and much more on NEW DAY. Stay close. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


PAUL: So I want to show you some live pictures here, yes, that is the White House in Washington getting clobbered again today with snow.

We are, what, 12 hours into this perhaps and even last night they were saying we're looking at 24 to 36 hours of this coming down total, which is going to mean a very messy day for the next couple of days.

A lot of governors in different states saying life-threatening. We're returning to the monster snowstorm slamming the U.S. hundreds of flights, let's talk about that.

Hundreds have been canceled because of the weather in fact thousands. This morning more than 4,000 flights within into are or out of the U.S. have been canceled, more than 250 from LaGuardia, more than 350 from JFK.

And new this morning from North Carolina at least six people have died due to this massive snowstorm, six people, including two who died this traffic accidents due to inclement weather.

CNN's Alina Machado is following that story for us from Charlotte -- Alina.

ALINA MACHADO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Martin, the storm here in North Carolina turning deadly at least four people have died in weather-related car crashes.

Here in charlotte, the city remained essentially a ghost town all of Friday. People staying home, staying off the roads as rain, sleet, and snow came down.

Most of the roads has some slush, were slippery, but crews were out there trying to keep them clear during the storm. We know that at least 110,000 customers in the Carolinas had outages, had power outages overnight.

We know that crews are working hard to restore power to these people. And we also know that the focus today turns to cleaning up the city and getting it ready for Sunday's NFC championship game, that cleanup effort will certainly take some time -- Martin.

PAUL: All right, thanks so much, Alina. Listen at this hour, in Virginia, the snow falling fast and thick. As of late last night, there had been nearly 1,000 traffic crashes, 1,000, and more than 700 disabled vehicles that were responded to by the Virginia state police.

Cotton Puryear, state public affairs officer for the Virginia National Guard joining us by phone. Thank you so much for being with us. Help us understand first of all what is the situation there right now?

COTTON PURYEAR, STATE PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER, VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD (via telephone): Most of the areas you've been talking about, we're experiencing really heavy snow, making it extremely difficult for emergency response organizations to get around.

So how worse this thing is we're using our Humvees which can get through really heavy snow so we're helping state troopers get to those crash locations. We're helping emergency medical officials be able to get to citizens who need medical assistance.

And we even helped get equipment to help deal with a house fire not far from where I am here.

PAUL: I know that house fires can be really -- it can be common sadly because people are trying to heat their homes about if they have lost power.

[05:20:03]Are you finding that is part of problem? What is the power interruption in that area?

PURYEAR: I don't have the numbers on power interruption. Our focus has been on mobility and making sure that those local EMS and state police troopers can get to where they need to go.

PAUL: And are you -- you mentioned that it's heavily snowing right now. What is your biggest challenge at the moment trying to do so?

PURYEAR: Well, we're actually -- from our standpoint, the coordination with the state police has been terrific. The challenge is just being able to get through the stuff safely.

We have well trained soldiers, great equipment, but it's still a challenge getting around. And we just have to make sure that everybody goes slow and does things the way they know they are supposed to do.

PAUL: And you have been and the folks in D.C. have been so staunch and stern telling people to stay off the roads. When you get to these people, what do they say, why do they still venture out?

PURYEAR: I haven't heard any reports back in terms of why folks are out and about. Again, our priority is to be able to get people to where they need to go and maybe troopers have gotten insights, but I haven't heard anything from our soldiers in terms of why folks are out and around.

PAUL: All right, but you're pretty confident that you can handle still what is coming?

PURYEAR: Yes, the governor gave us authorizes to bring in 1,000 soldiers. Right now we have 400 located. They have been busy, but not overwhelmed. We can bring in more if need. So we feel like we have the right force mix out there and they're helping make a difference.

PAUL: All right. Well, we appreciate so much, Cotton Puryear, getting us updated here. Best of luck to you and the crews out there. We're wishing you the best.

PURYEAR: Thanks very much. PAUL: Thank you so much. Our coverage continues of the deadly blizzard affecting millions. We're going live to Martin Savidge in New York with the very latest. Stay close.



PAUL: Take a look at these live pictures we have coming out of New York, Columbus Square, it looks like there. And without those lights, it doesn't seem that you would see too much.

The snow is definitely coming down and the forecast just updated it looks like they will get even more snow than initially thought, up to 16 inches perhaps there in the city.

And we will continue obviously to follow what is happening there. But we do want to check some of the other stories making headlines this morning because we know that low levels of Legionnaires' disease bacteria were found in the water system of a Flint, Michigan hospital.

This that's when the staff noticed an increase in the number of people being diagnosed with the often deadly form of pneumonia. Flint is in the middle as you know of the huge controversy over high levels of lead and iron that were found in its water supply.

PAUL: A suspect is in custody after a deadly school shooting in Canada. Police say four were killed at the (inaudible) community school in northern (inaudible). The school had about 900 students in Grades K through 12. Officers will not report whether the victims or the shooter were students nor will they say what kind of weapon was used.

And a University of Virginia student has been arrested in North Korea for a, quote, "Hostile act against the government. Otto Warmbier (ph) has been detained since January 2nd.

He was on a tour of North Korea arranged by a Chinese company. Now the group says Warmbier's (ph) family is working with the State Department with North Korea and the Swedish Embassy in their attempts to free him.

Our coverage continues of this deadly blizzard affecting millions along the eastern seaboard. Eight people have already died and the worst may be yet to come. We're taking you live to Martin Savidge in New York in just a moment.



PAUL: Breaking news this morning, a massive snow storm that threatens to cripple parts of the east coast, a quarter of a million people do not have power right now across the southeast and the Carolinas.

But look at some of the latest pictures we're getting in here. Heavy snow, you can see there, weighing on these trees and knocking down power lines. It's beautiful I know, but it is heavy and wet and that is causing some real dangerous problems there.

Want to give and you live look at Philadelphia, as well. Officials are sounding the alarm over their most vulnerable and something I think a lot of us think about at this time are the people who are homeless and can they get to the shelters, do they have enough resources to take care of them in moments like this.

And then also, want to show you a picture of the capitol right now. Look at that, snowfall expected to be more than 2-1/2 feet by the time all is said and done in what is predicted to be one of the city's worst storms.

Want to head to New York. They're feeling it, too. Martin Savidge is there heading up our coverage of this historic storm. Martin, what are you seeing there today? I guess, at this early hour because as I understand it, it is this morning that they are going to get pummeled.

SAVIDGE: What a difference a day makes. Yesterday it was clear and cold, now a completely different story. Blizzard warning remains in effect and it will be here for some time. Blizzard warnings are in many parts of the eastern seaboard here as a result of this storm.

It's going to rely on two things that will make a difference in New York. The combination of how much snow and we're talking about how much snow per hour, some suggestions are it could be 2 to 3 inches per hour and then how hard the wind blows.

And there are also suggestions that the wind speeds here could become quite high, some even suggest maybe even near hurricane force. New Jersey is another state that has been suffering under this storm.

And there has been a lot of criticism tossed in the way of Governor Chris Christie who has been campaigning up in New Hampshire. And so many have wondered when are you going to come back and look after your state? And that answer came down yesterday. Here's what he had to say.


GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE, NEW JERSEY: So the reporting that I wasn't coming back was wholly inaccurate. And, you know, 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 11:00 after that believing that the storm was going to come here and 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 state, then my decision was easy. If that was going to happen, I was coming home.

That's what I said as far back as Wednesday. 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 regular briefings.

And if I feel if there is a need for me to come home, I will. If it turns out to be a need not to come home, I won't. I needed to make the decision at the moment and I got here before one flake fell on the ground.


SAVIDGE: And it's pretty obvious now given the weather conditions we are seeing developed that the governor will be pretty busy as are a lot of governors as they struggle to get through this storm here.

As you reported out, if there is any silver lining to any of this, it's the fact that the weather is striking on a weekend, which means the number of people who are trying to commute (inaudible) greatly reduced.

Most people would say if you don't have to go out for goodness sakes, do not. This is the time to hunker down. Chris Frates is in Washington, D.C., the nation's capital. And that is really the area that is expected to suffer the worst at the least when it comes to snowfall. Chris, how are things right now?

FRATES: Yes, I'll tell you, we're in the epicenter and we're starting to see the snow pick up again. Usually right behind my left shoulder here you can see the capitol. It's completely whiteout the right now.

[05:35:06]The snow starting to pick up and we've seen about 11 inches hit the ground so far since this storm started earlier yesterday afternoon.

And we expect that number to at least double. So we're only halfway through here. We're just getting started in places like New York, but I can tell you that it's been slippery out there.

Virginia state patrol saying there were at least 1,000 accidents that happened, 800 disabled vehicles. So officials are still saying stay off the roads. Here in town, the emergency routes are clear, they're passable.

But I wouldn't recommend trying to get on to those right now. The side streets are in pretty bad shape, as well. So people are saying hunker down. So far we've been lucky, the wind has not picked up. We haven't had huge 50-mile-per-hour gusts yet.

They are calling for that, that may still happen. And that means that power is still largely on in the Washington region in D.C. and Maryland, most people have their power.

And in Virginia, only about 8,500 outages so far that Dominion Power is reporting. That's 2.5 million customers so far the lights are on, the heat is on as well as the storm continues to pick up.

But as pretty as this will be later on when the light starts to come up, people are saying keep your skis and sleds at home, just hunker down. There will be plenty of time for that tomorrow after the storm passes and we can start to come out and have a little fun in the snow.

But until then, they expect that this kind of condition will last all day and they're just saying stay in the house. In fact D.C. officials saying that this storm will be deadly. Stay off the roads. So it doesn't get the kind of more of a stern warning than that -- Martin.

SAVIDGE: All right, Chris Frates, thanks very much. Interesting he know that's says he doesn't feel so much wind down there. Here in New York City, I can tell you the wind gusts are really starting to pick up.

And that is going to be problematic for potential damage, power lines and not to mention just trying to keep up with the snowfall coming down. Winds also propelling water and there are concerns combination of tide and the forces of this storm blowing on the coastline.

Boris Sanchez now joins us from New Jersey where he's been following developments there. Many people there still suffering and thinking a lot about what happened during Sandy -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: That's correct, Martin. The snow coming down at a steady clip here, it's been falling since about 6:00 or 7:00 last night. It's expected to stay in the single digits here, but as you said, the major concern is flooding.

I'll give you an idea of where we are. This is a barrier island, the ocean is to our east and this bay right here is to our west.

The main concern is that the water is only about a foot and a half maybe from coming over the harbor and into this area that was affected by Hurricane Sandy and was flooded here.

I can tell you this terms of preparations, so far the streets are clear. There is not very many people out. But officials have done a tremendous job of keeping them free of snow.

However, something that surprised me, there is not very many sand bags out in front of homes and businesses. I spoke to a neighbor yesterday and asked him why it was that so few people were getting prepared.

He said the water will do what the water's going do. Sand bags can only do so much. He was here during Sandy and he is certainly hoping for a different experience now.

The main hours to be concerned about just before 8:00 a.m., this bay behind us is expected to hit high tide. And exacerbating potentially making this much worse, it's a full moon today.

So the tide will be about as high as it gets. Neighbors here hoping that it doesn't affect them as badly as Sandy did just a few years ago -- Martin. SAVIDGE: As far as water levels, doesn't seem to be anywhere near a Sandy kind of crises, but it is going to be high and you're right, when we get close to 8:00 a.m. this morning because of the combination you just described, we will be carefully watching and we'll be checking back with you.

Meanwhile here in New York City and on the eastern seaboard for anybody going through the storm, stay here, we'll try to keep you connected with the very latest information.

If you're not affected by the storm, we'll give you context to understand what your friends and maybe family members on the east coast are going through. In the meantime, let's get back to Christi in Atlanta.

PAUL: Hey, Martin, thank you so much. Great information there that we are getting from you.

Right now too we want to let you know, there are thousands of people stranded on a Kentucky highway. Remember the situation in Georgia in the Atlanta area a couple years ago? Somewhat the same thing here.

We'll talk in just a couple minutes to a mom of five who has been stuck in the snow and icy conditions for nearly five hours now.




PAUL: You're looking at live pictures here on the right-hand side of your screen of Baltimore. They are expecting to get 2 or 3 inches of snow per hour and the winds particularly vicious. We will continue to bring you the latest from that part of the country as well.

But listen to this. A family of five, actually I think there are four in the car now, is stranded on a snowy highway in Kentucky. I want to show you some pictures here that were taken from their car so you can get a good idea of what they're talking about.

They're stranded with all kinds of other people who were also stranded on I-75. They have been there since 1:00 in the morning. They have run out of food and water. They say there are dozens of cars as you can see from these pictures stuck on Interstate 75.

And despite repeated calls to the Kentucky state police, no one has been able to come to help them yet. April Gilliam Montesinos is on the phone with us now.

April, thank you so much for sharing this with us so we can get a good sense of what is happening there. You have been sitting there since 1:00 this morning, is that right?

APRIL GILLIAM-MONTESINOS, STRANDED ON KENTUCKY HIGHWAY (via telephone): At 1:00 yesterday during the day. PAUL: OK. So you've been in that car for 17 hours almost.

MONTESINOS: That is correct and we have not moved one inch.

[05:45:04]PAUL: My gosh, how are you holding up, first of all, and have you been getting out and talking to people in other vehicles?

MONTESINOS: Yes, we have to keep -- me and my dad keep getting out and walking back and forth and talking to other people in vehicles. But it's very frustrating because you're in a car, you're not comfortable, you're crammed.

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

My dad is a diabetic and 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 officers, I did tweet somebody on Kentucky state police. They sent an officer out here, but he didn't know what he was being sent out for, so he didn't bring anything with him.

So he gave my dad his will own snacks so his blood sugar won't drop. But they said they have Red Cross giving blankets and are with and food, but nobody has seen any of that.

PAUL: Your daughters are 14 and 4. How are they holding up other than being hungry?

MONTESINOS: The 14-year-old really wants to go home. My 4-year-old fell asleep about an hour and a half ago. They just want to go home.

PAUL: How far are you from home?

MONTESINOS: We live in Toledo, Ohio, so we're still a good ways.

PAUL: Yes, you still have a good ways to go. April, stay with us. I want to bring Derek Van Dam in here, our meteorologist. Derek, help her understand what is going on there in Kentucky weather-wise and what is to come in the next hour or so.

VAN DAM: Well, April, many factors led to this situation. Not only your situation, but the hundreds of cars that are stranded on Interstate 75. First there was half an inch of ice reported in the region and on top of the ice, we talk about up to a foot to even 18 inches of fresh fallen snow.

And you add in the combination of hilly conditions makes it virtually impassable for many of the trucks and vehicles. This is the situation going forward. What you're looking at, I'm sure you can probably only just hear me, you're not watching me on TV, but for our viewers at home. We're talking about Rock Castle County just south of Lexington, Interstate 75, right around that exit 69 area. That is the area that Twitter has been lighting up and just discussing that that is where the majority of the vehicles are currently stranded.

The snow is letting up, but the forecast calls for the temperatures to stay well below freezing. So anything on the ground now won't be cleared anytime soon. So it will be very difficult for emergency personnel to come into that region and address the situation.

Because as you can see, some of the snowfall totals around that particular region upwards of a foot to even a foot and a half. That's the current temperature in Lexington, 21 degrees.

You can see outer bands of the snow starting to exit the region. So in terms of additional snowfall, maybe 1 to 3 inches, but winds will set in and temperatures will remain very cold.

By the way, Christi, April, there is still a winter storm warning in effect through 7:00 a.m. this morning in that region.

PAUL: All right, at least we're coming up on that. Derek, thank you so much. April, I wanted to ask you as I'm listening to this, we know that the winds are a problem. We know the cold is the problem. Do you have enough gas to keep yourselves warm and to turn the car on every so often?

MONTESINOS: We do. We actually probably still have almost a full tank because we keep turning it on and off. The main thing is that we've been in a car for a long time and they have southbound, you know, is open and clear, they just haven't got us clear yet. And they don't know that it will be anytime soon today.

PAUL: April, do you know -- real quickly, do you know if you're anywhere near a hotel where you could actually get out and walk to someplace?

MONTESINOS: No, we're not anywhere close to even an exit at all.

PAUL: I assume since you would think you would have done that if you had known, but I know that with our phones these days, they can be really helpful in getting us a better gauge of what might be around us.

April, we're so sorry for what you're going through. Obviously the troopers know that you are all there. I mean, they can't ignore that and they are obviously just having a hard time themselves.

Please keep us informed of what happens with you today, April. We want to make sure that you all are OK and thank you for taking the time. But please give us a call back if you start moving.

MONTESINOS: OK. Thank you so much.

PAUL: Wishing you the very best. Thank you. My goodness. She's one of 85 million of you in the path of this monster storm today. The snow expected to keep coming down all day in certain places.

[05:50:06]We're talking live to some of the hardest hit areas people there in just minutes.

Also following a big political story as the in-fighting over control of the GOP continues, there is a new poll out showing where the main support lies among voters.


PAUL: Want to show you another live picture here from Washington expected to be right in the bull's-eye of this snowstorm here. You can see some of the snow that is coming down.

We do know the National Guard has been called out, they're providing critical vehicle support to bring aid to where it's most need.

But again, live pictures here of Washington and many, many pictures of this throughout the northeast and mid-Atlantic states as we have ten states under a declaration of emergency this morning.

Eight people have already died and 160,000 people do not have power this morning. We'll have more on this in a moment. But as we're looking at Washington, we thought we should let you know some new political news out this morning.

This national poll that is now showing Donald Trump with a sizable lead over rival, Ted Cruz. The real estate magnate leads Cruz 34 percent to 20 percent. Iowa caucuses just eight days away and a fight ongoing within the GOP about the direction of the party.

Sunlen Serfaty is following that part of the story for us in Iowa.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. Well, this is a real struggle going on right now within the establishment wing of the Republican Party.

In one corner you have those who are very intent on stopping Donald Trump and in the other those trying to take down Ted Cruz.


[05:55:07]DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People don't even think about the "National Reviews."

SERFATY (voice-over): 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 under foot on behalf of a populism as heedless and crude as The Donald himself.

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

TRUMP: That's a dying paper, pretty much of a dead paper.

SERFATY: And Cruz continuing to be raked over the coals by establishment Republicans with takedown 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 frontrunners. 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.

As both men face incoming from their party, 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.


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

SENATOR TED CRUZ (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He supports using government power to seize private people's homes to give them to giant corporations to say hypothetically build a casino.

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


SERFATY: And the RNC has responded to the "National Review's" takedown of Trump and basically disinvited them from participating in next month's Republican debate right here on CNN -- Christi.

PAUL: Sunlen, thank you so much. Want to give you a programming note here too. Exactly one week before the Iowa caucuses, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Martin O'Malley will go face-to-face with the voters in Iowa in a CNN Democratic presidential town hall.

It is live from Des Moines. Chris Cuomo will moderate. It is the final pitch for all of the candidates before the first votes are casts.

And a unique opportunity for Iowans to ask questions of the three Democrats themselves. That is Monday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern live right here on CNN.

You know, we've been talking about the snowstorm and apparently it's not going to change the NFL's plans. The NFL says the NFC championship game is going on as scheduled in North Carolina -- Rashan Ali.


PAUL: They are tough. Right?

ALI: But it's all good because despite the snow on the ground in charlotte, the NFC championship game will go on. Now, yesterday the Carolin Panthers hit the field of practice in the snow.

The players seemed unaffected by the weather with some even wearing short sleeves. Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera said he does not think the snow will be an issue.

Now, the snow may not be an issue for the players, but it has been an issue for the city. The Panther pride rally scheduled for Friday was canceled because of the incoming weather.

The weather continues to be an issue for the city, but the forecast says Charlotte is due for more than a half inch of snow and as much as 2-1/2 inches through Saturday night as of 4:30 a.m. at least 160,000 customers are without power throughout the mid-Atlantic.

The majority of which are in the eastern North Carolina near Raleigh. Charlotte Douglas International Airport remained open with limited flight operations overnight. They plan to restart operations around noon on Saturday. It will be limited for most of the day.

Later today, the Cardinals are scheduled to fly into Charlotte from Phoenix. No word yet on whether those travel plans have been changed. So we shall see.

PAUL: Rashan, thanks. Good to have you here. So much more to tell you this morning. The next hour of NEW DAY starts now.

We are tracking a brutal winter storm this morning. I want to give you numbers to give you some perspective here if you're just waking up, 85 million of you are just rubbing your eyes open, waking up, in the path of this potentially devastating winter storm.

It may get worse as the hours tick by here. Right now, ten states and the District of Columbia under a state of emergency. Nearly a quarter of a million people, as Rashan just alluded to, do not have power right now.