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What Is Fueling Tornado Outbreak And Historic Floods?; How Rescued Hiker Survived 17 Days In Hawaii Forest; Nepal Considers Limiting Mount Everest Permits After 11 Deaths. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired May 29, 2019 - 07:30   ET



[07:34:05] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: For 13 consecutive days now there have been more than 300 tornadoes that have caused destruction across much of the United States. So, what is fueling this deadly outbreak of tornadoes?

Joining us now is Patrick Marsh. He's the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service. I hope I got that right, Patrick.

But let's talk about this almost unprecedented 13-day stretch. What is fueling all of this tornadic activity?


So what's causing this unprecedented record-breaking stretch of tornadic activity in the central part of the United States is there's two pieces to it.

One, the big high-pressure across the Southeast -- the Bermuda high that's bringing all the record heat to parts of the Southeast. Well, the flow around that high is bringing copious amounts of moisture up north into the central part of the United States. And so, that's sitting here just ready for something to tap into it.

[07:35:06] And then, across the Rocky Mountains, we have this unseasonably could trough that's bringing all the snows to the Rockies. Well, the flow around that is bringing a lot of wind shear and ascent out into the central part of the United States. And so, when you have a lot of moisture and ascent, and wind shear, you have a recipe for a lot of thunderstorms.


MARSH: And the fact that these two things are just sitting in place and they're not moving is what's led to day after day after day of thunderstorms.

CAMEROTA: Let's look at the numbers here. In 2016, 217 tornadoes; 2017, 291. May of 2018 -- I'm sorry -- these are all May, I should say -- just the month of May. May 2018, 170. May 2019, where we are, 442.

And so, it is a remarkable year. It is unprecedented. And, obviously, so many people are wondering is this extreme weather somehow, in your mind, connected to climate change?

MARSH: That's a really great question and the simple answer is we just don't know. In the grand scheme of things, tornadoes are very rare in space and time. We don't have a whole lot of them to study. And so, we need a longer data set or better statistical techniques to start to tease out some of the attribution.

There's a lot of research that's ongoing to try to -- to try to get to this point. Hopefully, in the next few years, we'll be able to say more definitively if there is a climate change aspect. But unfortunately, right now, we can't say anything definitively.

CAMEROTA: Patrick, what does it mean that we're seeing this swath of tornadoes in such a widespread area? I mean, from Kansas City all the way to places that are not used to this -- Washington, D.C., New York City, New Jersey.

MARSH: Well, it's a testament to just how big this pattern that we're in right now and how locked in. So basically, what will happen is the thunderstorms will develop across the central part of the United States. They'll produce tornadoes on day one and then those thunderstorms will move east and they'll continue to produce tornadoes as they move east.

And so, by the second and third day when they get over to the east coast, they're still able to produce tornadoes.

I know Staten Island, New York -- although it wasn't a tornado but last night they had golf ball-size hail falling.

And so, I mean, the thunderstorms that we're seeing right now are the kinds that you really have to take seriously. There's large hail, there's tornadoes --


MARSH: -- there's strong, damaging winds, and the pattern's going to continue.

CAMEROTA: For how long? We only have 10 seconds left. How long are we going to be seeing this?

MARSH: At least for a couple -- at least into this week. There may be a reprieve as we go into the weekend but then we may be right back at more thunderstorms next week.

CAMEROTA: Patrick Marsh, warning coordination meteorologist from NOAA, thank you so much for being with us -- John.

MARSH: Thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: He said it's too early to tell if this is climate change but it does beg the question what is the Trump administration doing about climate change. What they're merely saying about it is stunning enough.

John Avlon has a reality check -- John.


So, this is pretty stunning. The following quote is one of the most bonkerous (ph) things we've heard from a member of the Trump administration and that's saying something. Ready?

Quote, "The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler." Yes, that happened.

And that twisted metaphor comes from someone who now apparently has the president's ear when it comes to climate change -- physicist William Happer, who serves on the National Security Council.

Now, Trump is reportedly considering tapping that guy to run his own climate change review panel designed specifically to undermine actual assertion of actual climate change scientists in the government.

What could possibly go wrong? Well, if you believe the administration's own congressionally-mandated report, quite a lot because it warned of catastrophic impacts from climate change. "Challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us."

Now, confronted with this expert scientific consensus, President Trump's response was to say this.




AVLON: "I don't believe it." And now, he seems to be trying to get alternative facts to back up his gut.

And we really shouldn't be surprised. This is the same guy who once described climate change as a hoax created by the Chinese. But denying reality doesn't change reality, but that hasn't stopped him from trying.

The Trump administration started out by simply trying to disappear the terms, scrubbing words like "climate change" from "government use."

Now, "The New York Times" says that some official reports will only predict the possible effects of climate change through 2040. And worst-case scenarios, they end up getting cut entirely. And that's just the tip of the melting iceberg.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently attended a council -- Arctic Council meeting where they're literally dealing with the effects of climate change every day. They told him to look on the bright side. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The Arctic is at the forefront of opportunity and abundance, steady reductions in sea ice. They're opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade.


[07:40:00] AVLON: And then, to add insult to injury, Pompeo reportedly refused to sign the group's joint statement unless all references to climate change were removed. The official position of the Trump administration is now climate change denial.

And industry is trying to benefit from this war on science and they've got the administration staffing to prove it.

Remember Trump's first EPA chief, Scott Pruitt? Well, he once called himself the leading advocate against the EPA's activist agenda.

But he was a piker compared to the guy who replaced him. Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who met some 50 times in four months with industry insiders while trying to roll back clean air and water regulations.

So, it's no wonder that oil and gas executives were caught on tape literally laughing about the outsized influence they have on the Trump administration.

Now, occasionally, anti-science blows up in their face, like when Trump tried to nominate this guy, Sam Clovis, to be the Department of Agriculture's chief scientist. The only problem was he's not a scientist at all.

It's just more evidence of how hyperpartisan politics and special interest are hijacking our ability to reason together and confront common challenges.

Remember Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynahan famously said, "Everyone's entitled to their opinion, but not his own -- their own facts."

Now, President Trump is trying to change official facts to try to fit his opinion. And make no mistake, your tax dollars are being used to try to twist the truth at the expense of future generations.

And that's your reality check.

CAMEROTA: John, that is so eye-opening. I am so glad you brought us that reality check.

And as scientists have told us on this program, climate change doesn't really care if President Trump believes in it.

AVLON: No, no, climate change doesn't care.

CAMEROTA: It's moving ahead. BERMAN: You know, Mike Pompeo talking about investment opportunities in the Arctic is like Lex Luthor buying up land as beachfront property in case California falls into the ocean --

AVLON: I did not see the Lex Luthor reference --

BERMAN: -- right?

AVLON: -- coming, but strong.

CAMEROTA: You're welcome.

BERMAN: All right, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, a lost hiker rescued after 17 days in a Hawaiian forest thanks, of course, in part to her friends who never gave up. So you're going to hear from another one of them, next.


[07:46:06] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANDA ELLER, RESCUED HIKER: As the day went on and the helicopters are passing over and I'm standing on rocks and waving them down, and they're passing over and they're not seeing me -- I'm invisible -- you lose hope and your hope meter starts to decline a little bit.

You have a choice to make. You could sit on that rock and you can die, and you could say mercy and you feel pitiful for yourself and play victim or you can start walking down that waterfall and choose life.


BERMAN: That's hiker Amanda Eller speaking out after a harrowing 17 days lost in the Hawaiian jungle. The physical therapist survived off berries, insects, and stream water -- even slept in the den of a wild boar, all while her friends and family never gave up hope.

One of those friends is our next guest who also helped organize the search, Sarah Haynes. Sarah, thank you so much for being with us.

So if you can, just give us an update on how Amanda is doing right now with her recovery.

SARAH HAYNES, FRIEND AND SPOKESPERSON OF RESCUED HIKER AMANDA ELLER: She's great. She's spiritually great, her body's doing awesome. She is -- you know, it's a little bit of a process. One day you're good and the next day you're not.

So they had to do this really grueling process on her legs where they removed the tops of the wounds. So it's a bit of a one step backward, two step forward process. She walked out of the hospital and a day later she was in a wheelchair because of the painful procedure.

BERMAN: So, Amanda spoke about the moment she realized she was found and we spoke to Javier Cantellops, who was obviously a key part of the rescue. I want you to listen to what they said about that moment.


ELLER: So I'm in this tiny little piece of rock on the top of this waterfall. How the heck are they going to find me? And when I looked up and I saw the helicopter right over me and he's pointing right at me, I just like fell to the ground and just started bawling.

JAVIER CANTELLOPS, RESCUED LOST HIKER AMANDA ELLER: I shook the helicopter with my -- with my scream. I screamed over the rotors.

You know, it was just like the most incredible moment of my entire life. It was absolute magic, incredible elation. The single most incredible moment of my life.


BERMAN: So, Sarah, what was it like for you? What was your reaction when you found out your friend was alive?

HAYNES: So, I was doing a press conference that we were going to do a $50,000 reward for anybody who had any information leading to her whereabouts, specific to an abduction.

And at that point, her father called in and I saw the phone ring and I answered it. And he just went we've got here, she's alive. We've got her, she's alive.

They put her on the phone with me and she's on her way. Go, Maui Memorial -- go, go, go -- come meet us. So he was just over the moon.

I -- just like Javier, it was just complete elation. It was so exciting and it had been such a rough three weeks. And, yes, it was just amazing.

BERMAN: So, we talked about some of things that she did to survive -- sleeping in the den of a wild boar, eating berries. What else did she do to get through the 17 days?

HAYNES: She had read a book about foods in the jungle and things like that, so she's really smart. She's a doctor.

So, she ate berries. She was really careful about the water she drank. Anytime it rained, she stopped drinking because it -- the runoff can bring down all sorts of diseases, especially in a tropical environment. In Hawaii, there's a lot of problem with drinking water if it's not super clear.

So she was -- she was just really careful about it and yes, she just mostly ate berries and water. She lost about a pound a day. She was very thin when we found her but she's looking great now. She's already picking up weight and looking beautiful.

BERMAN: That's fantastic.

We heard her say that she stopped to meditate and when she was done mediating she couldn't find her way back to her car. What happened?

HAYNES: You've got that exactly right. She went a couple of miles on her run/hike and she -- she's always been a meditator. You probably heard Ben say that they meditated together the morning she went missing.

[07:50:08] So, she went to a fallen tree to an off-trail and she laid down and did a meditation. When she opened her eyes, she hopped up and went which way did I come from. Every direction looked the same.

And that happens because there's a maze of pig trails, and hunting trails, and mountain bike trails, and hiker trails. So once you go off the main trail it's just a mish-mash of directions that one could go. And she just went the wrong way and she just kept going the wrong way for 17 days.

BERMAN: Seventeen days. Glad it's now over and we're so happy you have your friend back. Sarah Haynes, thanks so much for being with us.

HAYNES: Yes, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Just incredible. What a story, John.

All right, now to this story that we've been covering. These climbers trying to summit Mount Everest caught in deadly traffic jams. Now, the Nepalese government is considering changes.

We have a live report from Nepal for you, next.


[07:55:15] CAMEROTA: Nepal is now looking to limit access to Mount Everest because of this deadly climbing season. Eleven people have died so far this year alone.

CNN's Arwa Damon is live in Katmandu with more -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, and it does seem as if these most recent deaths are at least forcing the Nepalese government to reconsider some of the requirements that need to be fulfilled before a permit to summit Mount Everest will be issued.

Remember, there was a lot of backlash against the Nepalese authorities due to allegations of overcrowding because of the number of permits that the government had issued. Now, they deny that. They say that this year they only issued nine more permits than they had in previous years.

But at the same time -- and this I found quite astounding -- you don't have to prove a certain level of expertise to be able to summit Mount Everest. All you have to do is have a doctor say that you're fairly healthy.

That is what the government says they might change because so many expert climbers and the people -- the guides -- the Sherpas that are taking people say that the big issue that they're also facing is inexperienced climbers who don't know how to handle the techniques.

And this year, in particular, because it has been so fatal, has also seen a number of climbers having to go past the bodies of the dead while they were on their way to and from the summit.

Listen to what a father-daughter team had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw dead bodies in the way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was like you see a body and you're like, it's OK, I have to keep going. I don't want to be like him. I have to move on. I have to go.


DAMON: The challenge of Mount Everest is appealing for many reasons to different types of people. But as one expert climber put it, he says you can go to Everest and you can think that you're invincible and you can think that you can handle it. But when you get there you will realize that nature has something else in mind.

And what everyone is saying right now is that the debate needs to be about not preventing people from going to Mount Everest from trying to get to the summit but, rather, figuring out how to mitigate the deaths. How to ensure that everyone can do it as safely as possible.

BERMAN: All right. Arwa Damon for us in Katmandu bringing us that update. Thank you very much to you, Arwa.

CAMEROTA: All right. Now, here' some video of me throwing out the first ceremonial pitch. All right, it's not me.

BERMAN: But it might as well be.

CAMEROTA: It might as well be because this was a White Sox employee of the month. She got to throw out the first pitch before last night's game.

She uncorked a wayward wild pitch. It hit the team's photographer. Now, that photographer who got bonked will not forget it. Here's what he saw. Let me show you from POV what he saw milliseconds before being hit.

The photographer and his camera are both OK. Hopefully, we have that shot from his point of view. Maybe we can see it -- hold on -- ouch.

He tweeted the picture with the caption "Life comes at you fast."

BERMAN: OK. Just trust us on that one.

CAMEROTA: OK, we have it.

BERMAN: Oh, this is 50 Cent.

CAMEROTA: Oh, show --

BERMAN: This is 50 Cent.

CAMEROTA: Oh, that stunk.

BERMAN: I actually think the White Sox employee -- how do we know she wasn't aiming for the photographer? We keep calling it the worst first pitch ever.

CAMEROTA: Maybe it was perfect.

BERMAN: I think it was pinpoint accuracy. She hit that photographer exactly where she aimed, right in the camera.

CAMEROTA: I mean --

BERMAN: 50 Cent, he was throwing it -- I don't know.

CAMEROTA: 50 Cent has no excuse --


CAMEROTA: -- really.


CAMEROTA: That's --

BERMAN: Yes. She --


BERMAN: -- hit the target.

CAMEROTA: Listen, people in glass houses can't throw stones or first pitches, so I thought they looked just fine.

BERMAN: I'm going to have you throw at the camera coming up to see if you can hit the camera.

CAMEROTA: The camera? I can try.

BERMAN: Yes, OK. We're going to do that. I'm going to read the tease as Alisyn tries to hit the camera.

CAMEROTA: No, no, you read it. It's a serious tease.


CAMEROTA: And then later, I'm going to try to hit the camera.


Big threat today for millions of people, including in the Northeast. Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York, be on the lookout for tornadoes.

NEW DAY continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Devastation, World War III.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rounds of relentless storms are showing no sign of letting up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing left of that house -- just crumbled completely. Those houses completely destroyed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We knew it was coming. I was just hoping it wasn't coming right at me and it did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It ripped the roof off and I was just holding my kids as tight as I could.

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI): Clearly, things that violate the public trust are impeachable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is putting his job on the line to hold the president to account. He's the only one with the guts to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How come you've become a Democrat when we voted for you as a Republican?

RICK SANTORUM (R), CNN COMMENTATOR AND FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR: A lot of things this president does is appalling. None of it is impeachable and none of it is criminal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's put this in perspective. That's Justin Amash alone. Where is anybody else within the Republican conference?


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.