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CNN This Morning

Twenty-Six Killed, Dozens Hurt As Deadly Tornadoes Sweep Through The South; Biden Approves Mississippi Disaster Declaration After Deadly Tornadoes; Cajun Navy Volunteers Helping In Search And Rescue Efforts; Investigation Ongoing Into Cause Of Massive Candy Factory Explosion; Trump Rallies In Texas As Possible Charges In Hush Money Probe Loom; Trump Returns To Campaign Trail For First 2024 Rally In Texas; Putin: Russia Will Deploy Tactical Nuclear Weapons To Belarus; Asteroid Dubbed "City Killer" Safely Passes By Earth; Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus To Line Up Beneath Moon; Upsets Abound In NCAA Tournaments. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired March 26, 2023 - 06:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. It is Sunday, March 26th. I'm Victor Blackwell.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Amara Walker. Thank you all for spending a part of your morning with us. And to you, Victor, I have to tell you I tweeted out a photo of us yesterday and the excitement level for Victor Blackwell was pretty intense.

BLACKWELL: I'm excited.

WALKER: And everyone's saying, look, is this permanent? I'm like, yes, yes.


WALKER: Yes, it is permanent.

BLACKWELL: This is for real and for keeps.

WALKER: As long as long as you wake up --

BLACKWELL: Yes, I mean --

WALKER: -- get used to the schedule again.

BLACKWELL: Get back in the cycle is a challenge.

WALKER: Well, here is what we are watching this morning.


MAYOR ELDRIDGE WALKER, ROLLING FORK, MISSISSIPPI: I got my wife. We got in the tub covered our heads. By the time we did that the storm was coming over and all we could hear was the house breaking apart.


WALKER: So many terrifying stories. The death toll continues to climb after at least 10 tornadoes ripped through the south Friday. The recovery efforts now underway as federal resources are moving in. And we are also tracking the threat for more severe storms today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Due to the violence of the explosion and the amount of time that has passed the chance of finding survivors is decreasing rapidly.


BLACKWELL: At least three people are confirmed dead after -- look at this -- a candy factory exploded in Pennsylvania. What we know about that explosion and the ongoing efforts to locate those who are still missing.

WALKER: Plus, Donald Trump going back on the campaign trail and back on the attack against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the slew of investigations he is facing.

BLACKWELL: And two more schools punch the ticket to the final four, including one unlikely team. The highlights coming up on CNN THIS MORNING.

We begin this morning with the support that's now pouring into the south after powerful storms spawned 10 deadly tornadoes in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. At least 26 people were killed. Dozens were injured after the storms pummeled parts of the south Friday night.

When we spoke with the mayor of Rolling Fork, Mississippi, he said, his city is gone.


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS) (on the phone): It was devastation beyond imagination. People were absolutely stunned at what had just occurred. And so as the night wore on, it was clear that this was something that people have never seen before.


WALKER: Well, President Biden is promising to get federal support to the devastated area as quickly as possible. And the secretary of Homeland Security is set to tour the area later today. But there is a chance for even more -- more punishing storms today. More than 20 million people are under threat of severe weather.

BLACKWELL: Our team is covering this from all the angles. CNN's Allison Chinchar and Jasmine Wright are standing by. We're going to start with Isabel Rosales live in Mississippi.

I can see behind you the evidence of really the strength of the tornado that passed through there. Where do things stand this morning?

ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Victor and Amara. Yes, according to the latest press release from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency the four people who were missing statewide here have now been accounted for. So, really this search and rescue efforts and mission has now switched over to a rebuilding and recovery mission.

What has really struck me here on the ground in Rolling Fork and Silver City, the two hardest hit areas, is just how much of a tight knit community this is. A lot of the folks that we spoke with either knew the victims or were actually related to the victims.

So, what we've seen here on the ground is a lot of love really in the midst of all this tragedy. Folks helping one another to tarp up the roofs, to clean up debris if they've still got a home standing, and donating food and water to their less fortunate neighbors.


ROSALES (voice-over): Powerful storms and at least one tornado pummeled the southeast on Friday night, nearly leveling some neighborhoods and knocking out power for thousands, officials said. The confirmed tornado touched down in Mississippi, where the damage and death toll had been most severe. Search and rescue efforts for storm victims began after the tornado struck the towns of Silver City and Rolling Fork.

ELDRIDGE WALKER: The state of my town devastation. As I look around families are affected. Homes are torn up.


Families are without a place to live. Children are hungry. No clothes. We're devastated.

ROSALES (voice-over): The city of Rolling Fork is in Sharkey County, the origin of many of the storm fatalities, CNN has reported. Tracy Harden and her husband own Chuck's Dairy Bar in Rolling Fork.

TRACY HARDEN, OWNER, CHUCK'S DAIRY BAR: We don't know where everybody is. We don't know who is alive and who is gone. And just trying to hold it together.

ROSALES (voice-over): Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves issued a state of emergency in all counties affected by the severe storms, according to a release. State agencies led the search for victims and FEMA has arrived to help with the recovery.

DEANNE CRISWELL, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR (on the phone): Right now we still are in a lifesaving life sustaining mode, and we want to make sure that the state has everything that they need, as we work to make sure that no additional lives are lost. I think, as you are watching the images and I'm watching these images it's just heartbreaking to see the devastation that this community has sustained. ROSALES (voice-over): The tornado that flattened much of the community of Rolling Fork was rated at the strength of EF-4, according to a member of the National Weather Service team surveying the damage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even though we lost everything this stuff can be replaced, material things can be replaced, but to lose a loved one it was just heart wrenching.


ROSALES: Yes. And as you guys mentioned off the top there, the governor, Tate Reeves, he is holding a media conference later today noon, Central Time, to provide an update on the impacts of the severe weather and the tornadoes. He'll also be accompanied by the secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, and also the director of FEMA, Deanne Criswell. We will bring you those latest updates as soon as we get them.

BLACKWELL: So much loss there, but even the people who survived this tornado they're putting things into perspective that, yes, they lost their homes, but they are the fortunate ones who survived the string of tornadoes. Isabel Rosales for us there. Thank you so much.

Let's go now to Jasmine Wright, live in Wilmington's Delaware. President Biden has approved an emergency declaration for Mississippi. How is the administration, also state officials how are they responding to the disaster?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, Victor. Well, President Biden, he approved that emergency declaration overnight really after spending his Saturday here in Wilmington's seemingly responding to this severe crisis. President Biden, we first heard from him on earlier in Saturday, where he issued a statement saying that he was praying for those who lost loved ones and whose loved ones are still missing. And he said that he also talked to a sizable portion of statewide officials there, including Governor Reeves, Senators Wicker, Hyde-Smith, and Congressman Bennie Thompson.

The White House said the president asked them, what more can I do for you? What more can I do for the people of Mississippi? As well as pledging more federal assistance.

Now, the president also spoke with FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell, who is expected to visit the survey site later today alongside DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Now, we know that in those calls the president, he really laid out exactly what he was preparing to do. And we saw that with that emergency declaration really going to four of those hardest hit counties doing things like providing temporary housing, money for temporary housing, money for housing repairs, also offering low cost loans to those who have uninsured property damage.

Now, of course the White House said that this -- this really is ongoing as they're reviewing whether or not more counties will be added to this federal declaration later on to really free up more money for Mississippi and other affected states. Of course, the question here going on today is when or whether or not President Biden or more of his cabinet will visit that severe tragedy site in Mississippi.

WALKER: All right. I'm glad the administration is making it a priority. Jasmine Wright, thank you very much. Well, the United Cajun Navy, which is a nonprofit made up of search and rescue volunteers, they're on the ground right now, helping in affected areas. And here with me now is their director of field operations, Blake Matthew.

Blake, good morning to you. Listen, I know power is out in much of the area. It looks like you're in your car right now using a light source. Obviously, as we've been seeing in the pictures and from our reporting on the ground, the damage is just so incredibly devastating.

What are you experiencing? What are your teams up against?

BLAKE MATTHEW, DIRECTOR OF FIELD OPERATIONS, UNITED CAJUN NAVY: We've been -- we rolled in around 1:00 in the morning yesterday. So Saturday morning after the storm has hit we hit the ground with our live search dogs and continued to help local and state officials. On the search team to locate individuals who were missing in -- I mean, it's just complete devastation that you can't even say rubble (ph).


I mean, it's just the town is leveled, Rolling Fork. Silver City, Mississippi, which is about 30 minutes outside of Rolling Fork, it's leveled as well. And we've been in both of those with dog teams and our supply trucks where we're setting up -- basically bringing in all the essentials that we're being told.

They need everything from baby food, diapers, anything we can get our hands on, cases of water. Toiletry is the biggest thing. People they don't have anything to go shower with or anything. So we're doing that.

We're also looking in to setting up some shower stations just outside of Rolling Fork and outside of Silver City. But as far as search and rescue efforts are going, it's more of a search and recovery at this point. We are facing the threat of severe weather coming into the area again today later (INAUDIBLE). So we're just -- we're hit early in the morning to beat that stuff coming in.

WALKER: Well, I'm sure that people are incredibly grateful for the work that you and your volunteers are doing. How many teams or people do you have there on the ground? And can you tell me specifically about any rescue or recovery efforts that you all have been a part of?

MATTHEW: The recovery efforts right now are going to be our cadaver dog teams, which came in yesterday afternoon. And they are assisting the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and other local law enforcement search crews. And they're basically going with what used to be houses and establishments where people lived that are completely leveled. And they're letting the dogs run through the area.

The last confirmed number I heard between Sharkey County and Humphreys County was right around 14 confirmed recoveries.

WALKER: Is this the number of recoveries that your team has been a part of, Matthew?

MATTHEW: The number of recoveries that we've been a part of is eight. So out of the 14 our dogs assisted with eight.

WALKER: OK. Got it. Just give us a sense -- I know that your teams are very well versed in these kinds of disasters. Does this differ in any way, you know, in terms of the magnitude of the damage?

MATTHEW: So, we're used to dealing with tornadoes. We're used to dealing with hurricanes. And hurricanes would be our main thing that we are used to dealing with. This damage is completely different.

There you do have wind damage. You have some structures that are leveled. This is -- I mean, at least 30 -- 40 miles that we've seen where everything is just leveled in the path, so it's a lot different. It's a lot more obstacles trying to get our dogs in safely and get our volunteers in safely and around all this debris.

It's definitely a challenge. But we have a lot of great sponsors and a lot of great people that donate to us, so we have the correct gear to do it. So that's where we're at right now.

WALKER: How hopeful are you especially judging from your experience that you will find more people alive under the rubble? And how are you going about that, trying to find some survivors?

MATTHEW: At this point and where we are in this, there is still a search and rescue operation going on both from our standpoint and the federal state local levels. But at this time, it's more of a search and recovery.

We believe that we've covered everything. At least Rolling Fork that we can as far as search and rescue we will have dog teams hitting the ground just to do secondary searches around 8:00 this morning. But it's more of cadaver dogs now coming into the area for people who have passed now that are in the rubble.

WALKER: The images are just breathtaking. I mean, you're just seeing piles and piles of debris of what used to be homes, buildings. I mean, this is probably a neighborhood for all we know. It's just indescribable and unrecognizable.

Blake Matthew, we really appreciate what you all do. Thank you so much and best of luck to you all.

MATTHEW: Thank you.

WALKER: And as you've been hearing us, saying this morning, the threat is not over. Millions are bracing for yet another round of severe weather.

BLACKWELL: CNN meteorologist Allison Chinchar is in the CNN Weather Center. So, where could we see these storms pop up?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, unfortunately in some of the same states that have been hit in the last 24 to 36 hours. We're still looking at the southeast being that target point for today. You've got active storms in Mississippi, areas of Alabama as well as Georgia right now.


A lot of lightning with a lot of these thunderstorms but also watches and warnings. This yellow shaded area here, this is a severe thunderstorm watch in effect until 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time today. But all these little orange boxes you see, those are individual severe thunderstorm warnings.

So, a lot of them scattered across this overall line as it makes its way through the southeast today. We've had a lot of damaging wind reports and especially hail reports in just the last 24 hours. That's going to be one of the big focuses for today.

All of this area you see here has the potential for strong to severe thunderstorms. You're talking damaging winds, large to very large hail. You're talking tennis ball size or even larger. And yes, the potential for a couple of tornadoes does exist.

Now, it's two different waves that we're talking about in terms of today. The first wave, that's what's already moving through a lot of these areas that will continue to push over towards the Atlantic Ocean as we go into the afternoon. Then a secondary round begins to develop in eastern Texas and that will spread through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama once again as we go through the latter portion of the day.

Another thing to note too, because it's multiple rounds, and keep in mind we also had rain yesterday and the day before that, the cumulative effect also brings in, Amara and Victor, the flooding components. Some of these areas could end up picking up three to five inches of rain on top of what they've already had.

BLACKWELL: Exactly what they do not need. Allison Chinchar, thank you for watching it for us. For more information on how you can help the victims of the deadly tornado and the severe storms that swept through the south, you can go to CNN com/impact.

The hope of finding any survivors in a Pennsylvania candy factory explosion is decreasing rapidly. That's according to the fire chief in West Reading that's in Pennsylvania, obviously.

WALKER: And at least three people are dead, four others are unaccounted for after a violent explosion on Friday. Investigators still trying to figure out what happened.

CNN's Danny Freeman has the latest on those search efforts.

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Victor, Amara, this has just been a devastating weekend for the community of West Reading, Pennsylvania. First responders have been working tirelessly through the weekend since Friday afternoon, when this explosion happened at the R.M. chocolate company to try and find survivors.

See the video, the explosion was truly intense. Residents told us it felt like an earthquake happens nearby. Now, again this area is the R.M. Palmer chocolate factory. It's a chocolate company that is well known in this area, well regarded. It employs more than 800 people. But again, that explosion was quite intense.

This turned into a multi agency operation. The governor was even here on Saturday morning. He deployed state resources like structural engineers and search and rescue specialists to get out on the scene. And the challenge was here that there was some hope mixed in with all of the sadness.

Overnight, on Friday night, one survivor was actually pulled from the rubble, and that's why search and rescue crews were working so hard all day on Saturday. But again, there was also that sadness and fear because we spoke with a man who was worried that his sister was among those trapped inside. Take a listen.


FRANKIE GONZALEZ, SISTER IS MISSING IN WRECKAGE: I'm hoping that she found a spot she can hide in. And, you know -- you know, it has been cold. It was cold last night and rainy today.

And, you know, I am not going to lie. We would be happy the she was just cold or wet. You know, hiding in a spot.

I don't want to hear the worst. You know, they tell you to prepare for the worst. You know? But it's not something you want to prepare for.


FREEMAN: Now, we did receive a statement from the chocolate company, from R.M. Palmer. They said that everyone is devastated in that organization. I will read this -- quote -- "We have lost close friends and colleagues, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all who have been impacted." Victor, Amara.

WALKER: All right. Danny Freeman, thank you. Former President Donald Trump hit the campaign trail in Texas. And aside from the usual grievances, he made some concerning comments about the war in Ukraine.

BLACKWELL: And Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning a move not seen since the end of the Cold War. We're live in Moscow with more just ahead.



BLACKWELL: Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail. He held his first formal rally of the 2024 campaign, speaking to supporters in Waco, Texas, on Saturday. Now Trump, as you know, is facing a slew of legal investigations on several fronts, including a potential indictment by the Manhattan D.A. for his alleged role in hush money payments paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Let's discuss now that and more of the day's political stories with CNN political commentator Errol Louis. Errol, good to see you, sir. Let's start here.


BLACKWELL: Good morning to you. Let's start here before we get to Stormy Daniels. He's in Waco, Texas. I've been trying to figure out why Waco? Why not go to Tallahassee or to Charleston and take it to the front porch of one of his opponents or potential opponents?

LOUIS: There's an idea. Well, Donald Trump is trying to consolidate and excite his base before he does anything else. And that really is what Waco represents to the extent that Donald Trump is trying to organize his base and his campaign for president around the idea of persecution, suspicion of the government and so forth. Waco, of course, historically holds this prominent place among the conspiracy minded as the place where during the Clinton administration there was a classic confrontation between the government and radical protesters that went down in a way that has convinced a lot of people that the government is the enemy, that the government overreaches, that the government should be opposed.

And that was very much the tone of the rally last night. And it is very much the tone of the Trump campaign. I don't like their chances for convincing a lot of people that that's a reason to elect somebody as president. But that seems to be the path that he's going down, at least to organize and galvanize his base.


BLACKWELL: Now, on the potential for an indictment from the Manhattan D.A. what we heard from the former president last night is a lot of what we have seen on social media, what he said before. The question is, how do those opponents and potential opponents respond to it? And in any other cycle, how to respond to an opponent of potential indictment to some campaign finance questions, about hush money to an alleged affair with an adult -- like this would be a clear response. But in this cycle that doesn't seem to work.

LOUIS: Well that's always the problem, Victor, with Donald Trump. It's not enough to simply say, you know, I wish him well. I'm not sure about these charges, but we'll just wait and see and let the process play itself out. No, no, no, that's not nearly enough.

What Trump is demanding of the Republican base, and frankly of his opponents, is that they vocally step forward and defend him and say that the process is tainted. The prosecution is rigged. The facts are not there and that he should be left alone.

Now, that doesn't square with the facts at all. And as he himself has put forward on social media the facts are damning enough that he's got every reason to think that the legal trouble is going to result in criminal indictment. That's how bad it is.

But it's not enough to stand on the sidelines. He is demanding loyalty not only from the base but again from his opponents. And they're -- and they're playing along, which is probably not great strategy and saying that they think there's a problem here, and that Trump should not have been investigated or prosecuted. It's a very, very curious strategy. It really sets up the Republican Party for a very, very hard time at the polls come 2024, Victor.

BLACKWELL: But wasn't that also one of the lessons of the 2020 -- 2016 primary for Republicans especially -- what stands out to me is Senator Ted Cruz. Is that -- if you're going to confront Donald Trump, it's best to do it early, not kind of play along for months. Are we at that point in the campaign where some of these opponents and potential opponents should turn in square up to Donald Trump? Can they afford to let this go for the rest of the spring and into the summer?

LOUIS: I'd go further than that, Victor. I think the candidate who seems to be doing the best if you believe the polls is DeSantis. And the governor of Florida is wisely trying to layout a vision of the future. He has put out a campaign book, and he's got a series of propositions and promises that he's starting to work on and testing out with crowds around the country. That's how you do it.

If you make it about Trump, you lose. That is the lesson of the 2016 Republican primary. That has been the lesson ever since that's -- probably if you think about it, the key to why the party did so poorly in last year's midterm elections.

Trump candidates, Trump backed candidates lost in Arizona and Pennsylvania and Georgia. Trump himself lost Arizona and Pennsylvania and Georgia and with it the presidency in 2020. If you want to lose those three states and the presidency one more time, that's how you do it.

So, you know, DeSantis I think has got some sense by saying this, like all elections, is about the future, not about the past. If you make it about Trump and you make it about the past and you make it about January 6th you're looking at a third defeat next year. I think that seems pretty clear by now. Trump is going to test out that proposition.

BLACKWELL: Yes, let's talk about this section from the remarks yesterday regarding Putin and Ukraine. This is what former President Trump said about those two.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I used to talk to Putin about it. It's something he certainly had in his mind. I never even talked about it. For four years you didn't even hear about it. As soon as I was out, or left, or however you want to describe that catastrophe, they started putting soldiers on the border. But even then, he didn't want to do it. He wanted to get a piece. Now it looks like he'll end up, probably, getting the whole thing.


BLACKWELL: Resignation to maybe Putin will get all of Ukraine. Republicans, some of them, gave Ron DeSantis hell for his comments several days ago about calling a territorial dispute. Is this something that Republicans are going to -- elected Republicans, Congressional Republicans confront this former president about or if he gets the nomination this could shift even the orthodoxy on Ukraine?

LOUIS: That is a remarkable statement you just played, by the way. I don't think most elected Republicans are going to go down that route, in part because the facts contradict it. You know, I mean, Putin is no closer to taking over Ukraine than he was on the day that he launched this disastrous war. And I think the whole world knows it, including Republican elected officials

Donald Trump is going to be out on the fringes if that's going to be his position.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): Erol Lewis, always good to have you. Thank you, sir.

Thank you.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR (on camera): All right, coming up, a tactical escalation. Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia plans to station nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus. And he says the move would not violate nuclear nonproliferation agreements. That's up next.


WALKER: The U.S. and Ukraine are reacting to Vladimir Putin's plan to station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. In an interview on state television, Putin said Moscow will maintain control of the weapons and the plan would not violate any non-proliferation agreements. So, what does Putin hope to accomplish? Is this a move to shift attention from Russia's setbacks in Ukraine? CNN Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance joins us now live from Moscow.

So, what is Putin up to and what does this mean for Belarus?


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, I think you referred to one of the reasons right there, Victor. I mean, certainly, Vladimir Putin seems to very frequently mentioned Russia's nuclear arsenal in a threatening way, perhaps as a way of not just warning the international community, but also signaling to his own domestic public that even though things aren't going particularly well on the battlefield, things are pretty stagnant in terms of the Ukraine war, Russia slash the initiative still has this kind of immense power sort of in the background that it can use at any point. And so, that's one reason.

The other reason -- the other thing is that this is a deployment to Belarus, which is expected to take place sometime in the months ahead, the set silos for these missiles won't be ready until July, Putin said. He also made it clear that it wouldn't be a transfer of nuclear weapons to the jurisdiction of Belarus. Russian forces would still very much remain in control of those weapons, those nuclear missiles, which are battlefield missiles, not the big intercontinental ballistic ones. And that means that Russia can tighten its grip on Ukraine. It can use

this as an opportunity to send more of its own military forces to its neighbor, to Belarus, to sort of tighten its military grip, it's political grip on that country. And I think -- I think that's the main reason why Putin is -- why Putin has announced this.

WALKER: And let's not forget that Belarus is bordered by three NATO countries, right? Also bordered by Ukraine. What has the response been, the reaction from Ukraine and also Washington?

CHANCE: Yes, I mean, absolutely, it borders those countries. And obviously, this is very worrying for those countries that technical -- tactical nuclear weapons may be based in Belarus. But I mean, to be clear, Russia can use its tactical nuclear weapons right now. It doesn't have to locate them to Belarus before they become viable for usage. So, in that sense, it's not a step closer necessarily to their use .

And that's been reflected by the reaction we've seen from the United States, for instance, the State Department's National Security Council, basically saying that they don't see any moves underway that means that Russia is moving closely to the use of a nuclear weapon. And they're not changing their sort of nuclear preparedness status as a result of this announcement from Vladimir Putin.

In terms of the Ukrainians, what they say is that more than anything else, more than threatening them, this potentially destabilizes Belarus because there's going to be a lot of people inside Belarus that don't want to move even closer to the Kremlin that they already are.

BLACKWELL: All right, Matthew Chance for us there in Moscow, thank you, Matthew.

All right, still ahead, it's called the City Killer. An asteroid with the potential to cause significant damage if it hit a populated area, it just went right past our planet. We'll talk about it next.



BLACKWELL: We did it.

WALKER: We're alive.

BLACKWELL: We have survived. This asteroid the size of an airplane known as the City Killer safely passed by Earth and we are -- we're all still here.

WALKER: I mean, that name, City Killer, just says it all. Yes, a little scary.

BLACKWELL: He's a little nicer in person though.

WALKER: NASA says we were never really in danger, but an asteroid of this size coming by Earth only happens about once every 10 years. It's just one of several notable events to happen in space this week.

And to discuss all this, we are joined by Janet Ivey. She is the CEO of Janet's Planets and the president of Explore Mars. Always great to see you, Janet. Good morning to you. All right, so the City Killer didn't kill anybody. So, we're in good hands. Tell us why this event was -- is so rare and then asteroid of this size is actually the unusual part, right?

JANET IVEY, CEO, JANET'S PLANET: It is. And as you said, it usually happens once every decade. And this happened -- you know, it passed easily between the earth and the moon. It was about 100,000 miles from us. And it gave us a great opportunity to take a finer look at these objects. But the good news is asteroid near don't fear because it's like last fall, NASA successfully crash landed a spacecraft into an asteroid moving and changing its orbit by about, you know, 20 minutes or so. So, they feel confident that if anything were really ready to strike a city here on Earth, we could, you know, launch a spacecraft and kind of knock it out of the way.

So, again, it gives astronomers great opportunities to take a look, see what these things are made of, and quite a spectacle if you were watching the live cast of it last night.

BLACKWELL: All right, well, that's good news is that even if a city killer comes close--

IVEY: That's very good news.

BLACKWELL: -- we got a plan. All right, so Mercury --

IVEY: We got a plan.

BLACKWELL: -- Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus lining up. Am I going to need an expensive telescope or can I just stand outside and see this?

IVEY: So, if you had even a pair of binoculars -- because again, you got to look at the magnification. A seven times 35 or seven times 50, that first number is going to be how many times closer that object is going to appear. So, if you've got a good set of binoculars or if you have access to a telescope, thumbs up. The problem with these five planets, it's like a planetary alignment or planetary parade, if you will, it's really -- we're always orbiting around this same orbital plane around the sun, but it just so happens is that all of these objects are on the same side of the sun as the Earth, so we're getting a chance to view them.

Now, Mercury and Jupiter are going to be the most problematic because they're going to be right there at the horizon. So, the best time to go out as right as the sun sets because 20 to 30 minutes after sunset, Mercury and Jupiter are going to be below the horizon. So, sweet -- face the western kind of like horizon and try to get clear of any buildings. And Mercury will be to the right of Jupiter. It's going to be pretty bright. And if you hold your hand out, it will be about one finger's length enough from Mercury to Jupiter, so that's kind of fun to like, 1.3 degrees will equal about that. But again, if you can spot those really sweep along that western kind

of horizon, and then Venus is going to be super easy to spot. It's really prominent in our sky. Look up to our waning crescent moon a little bit to the left. That yellow-orange kind of glow is going to be Mars. Then an extra bonuses if you even go further over just a little bit left, you're going to see this beautiful, amazing object, this globular cluster called M35 right in the constellation of Gemini.


But here is where it's going to get difficult. You're going to need those binoculars to see Uranus because it's going to be very faint, and it's hardly ever visible to the naked eye. So, if you've got those binoculars, the way that you will know that you have spotted it, is that it will have kind of a pale green color. So, starting -- if you've get -- again, problems always are a clear sky and visibility and getting away from some of the kind of city lights. But if you can even start going out tonight between kind of like pretty much Friday through -- this past Friday through March 30th, you're going to get a chance to see these planets. And why not get out and look up is what I always say.

WALKER: Yes, look up. But I don't have binoculars, but I do have an app on my phone that my husband turned me onto. I paid for it. And it's -- it helps you look at the constellations and also the planet. So, do you believe in these? Are they pretty accurate? Because you just put your phone up to the sky, and it will tell you what planet you're looking at.

IVEY: I like Sky Tonight or Skyguide, and they really do, especially if you're going, oh, my gosh, I really want a chance to see this. It quickly kind of like -- especially if you put it in live mode, it will show you kind of where those planets are. And they -- those are great tools to use and there are plenty of them out there. My favorites tend to be sky Skyguide or Sky Tonight.

WALKER: I'm going to download those two then. Awesome. Janet Ivey, thank you so much for the conversation and for all those tips. We will definitely look up.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Janet.

IVEY: Always keep looking up. Victor, great to see you this morning.

BLACKWELL: Oh, it's so good to be back. Good to see you, Janet. Thank you so much.

WALKER: We're all happy that Victor is back.


WALKER: Thanks, Janet.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Janet.

WALKER: Coming up, the road to the final four. Two teams have now punched their tickets to Houston. And get this, neither of them were ranked to start the season. Why am I not surprised by this?



WALKER: That's true. It's another day, another upset in March Madness for both the men and the women.

BLACKWELL: Coy Wire is here with us now. One of the men's final four teams, huge surprise.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (on camera): It's huge. Like, Cinderella's slipper has been found. Her name is Florida Atlantic going to the ball. 0.7 percent of all the tens of millions of brackets that were filled out had Florida Atlantic making it this far, and they're headed to Houston. FAU, seven foot-one Vlad Goldin taken down three-seed Kansas State 79-76, making it to their first final four ever.

Their basketball program didn't even exist 35 years ago. They didn't have any March Madness wins until 10 days ago. They play in an arena that holds just 2900 people, but now they're headed to the biggest stage in the game, making memories along the way, says their coach.


DUSTY MAY, HEAD COACH, FLORIDA ATLANTIC: They're going to have a special bond forever, but they would have -- this group would have a special bond forever. If we would have gotten knocked out in the conference tournament and not made the tournament. It's who they are. Like I said before, it's just awesome to see a guy -- a group of guys that deserve this 100 percent for it to happen for them.


WIRE: And UConn is back, handing three-seed Gonzaga their worst loss of the season. They beat them by 28 points, y'all. Coach Dan Hurley has this team steamrolling everyone this tournament, though. They've beaten their four opponents by an average of 22 points. Coach, one of the most fiery in the business, cutting down the nets. Afterwards he says, you know what, I don't even need these scissors. UConn headed to the final four as the only team left on the men's side that's ever won a national title. The last time was in 2014.

And huge shakeup in the women's tournament. UConn is out. They won't be in the Elite Eight for the first time since 2005. Ohio State Buckeyes dominating with defense, forced 18 turnovers just in the first half. They only averaged -- UConn only averaged eight -- 16 turnovers all season. The Buckeyes make the Elite Eight for the first time in 30 years, ending UConn's record streak of 16 straight trips to the Elite Eight. No women's or men's team had ever done that.


GENO AURIEMMA, HEAD COACH, UCONN: The problem with streaks is the longer to go, you're closer to an ending than you are to the beginning of it. And it's just a matter of time. You know, it's not like when will it happen? It's just a matter of time. I mean, it's not if it's going to happen, it's just a matter of time when it's going to happen. And it's going to -- it was going to happen sooner rather than later.


WIRE: Now, can we go with three shot here and have a little bone to pick with Victor?


WIRE: The elephants in the room is Victor.


WIRE: We do our bracket challenge, and you're going to see lots of folks here in the way at the bottom. Victor has zero points scored, zero points remaining. Victor, what happened?

BLACKWELL: So, this is the thing. I completed the bracket, right? I don't think I clicked the right thing to save it --

WIRE: Clearly.

BLACKWELL: -- or to register or whatever it is, but I always participate.

WIRE: Wait, wait. Welcome back, Victor. We love having you here. Hey, we can do our tie swaps again, buddy.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we can. Yes, we can.

WIRE: And catch some March Madness.

BLACKWELL: Yes, thank you.


WALKER: Wait, before we go though, I have to ask quite about your brackets. Because every time you've been on the air, you acted like, you know, your audio wasn't working. You don't have a piece today.

WIRE: I'm feeling good. I'll talk now. If my Texas team win -- if it wins out, I win the whole thing.

WALKER: Oh, nice.

WIRE: And show that jump shot one more time. Amara has got a game.

WALKER: I got it. I got it. Thanks, Coy. Good to see you.

BLACKWELL: All right, thanks, Coy.

WALKER: Well, actress and activist Eva Longoria is proud of her Mexican roots and deeply connected to the country she calls her second home. BLACKWELL: Well, now, in the new CNN Original Series: "SEARCHING FOR

MEXICO," Longoria is taking us on a journey across the country to see how its people, culture, landscape in history have shaped its diverse cuisine. Here's a look.


EVA LONGORIA, ACTRESS: Lucy is the queen of tlacoyos, favorite Mexico City street food.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's an oval-shaped patty, and it's stuffed with usually beans, fava beans or cheese. She puts the fava beans inside. And this is where like the tricky part, she has to keep the oval shape, keep the feeling inside, and the same thickness.

LONGORIA: Oh, my God, she did that so fast. I don't know how you guys are going to film that.

(text): You brought all of this on the bus? All the food?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (text): The carbon fort the fire is from my town.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Otherwise, it doesn't taste the same.

LONGORIA: So, she brings the carbon from --


LONGORIA: -- her town?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (text): It's my job, but I love it and I love the people.

LONGORIA: This is definitely food made with love right down to Lucy's green salsa, cooked cactus, and cheese.

(text): With everything, please.


BLACKWELL: "EVA LONGORIA SEARCHING FOR MEXICO" tonight at 10:00 right here on CNN.