tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN January 22, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PST
"state of the union." i'll be talking to jeb bush just eight days before the iowa caucuses. that's it for "the lead" today. i'm jake tapper. i turn you over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." please stay warm, please stay safe. have a good weekend. happening now, state of emergency. right now more than 85 million americans they are in the path of a monster storm. already many are getting pounded by snow, freezing rain, high winds. forecasters warning that before it's over this blizzard could go down as one of the worst storms in u.s. history. treacherous roads in states up and down the eastern u.s., driving conditions are deteriorating by the minute. city, state and federal governments they have shut down. major sporting events are being canceled. the dangerous conditions could last for days. and weight of the snow. tonight, there's growing concern about the buildup of heavy wet
snow falling for hour after hour. roofs could collapse. trees and power lines are at risk. standby for new information, information you need to know. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. >> breaking news, a monster storm slamming the south and now moving up the east coast. it's living up to its billing. forecasters warning us it could be historic, and you're looking at history in the making. arkansas, tennessee, the carolinas all lashed by snow, sleet and ice. and now washington, baltimore, philadelphia, new york all in line for blizzard conditions that could dump two feet or more of snow on tens of millions of people. emergencies have been declared through much of the eastern third of the united states. many are certain to lose power as the snow is whipped by winds that may reach more than 60
miles an hour. more than 6,000 flights already have been canceled. washington's bus system now shutting down. we have all the latest information, information that you need to know. our meteorologist jennifer gray is here in "the situation room." our coronrespondents, analysts d guests are standing by. we're covering this story as only cnn can. let's begin with cnn's brian todd who is out on the roads around washington. brian, where are you now? >> wolf, we're in arlington, virginia, along 395 heading north toward washington, d.c. the conditions are just getting very, very bad right now. often in these situations i can say that conditions deteriorated gradually. you cannot say that tonight. they have gone downhill very, very quickly since the snow started to hit this area in earnest just a few hours ago. visibility is a huge issue right now. we were told that at its best visibility might be about a quarter mile in front of you. i'll switch to the dashcam as we pull off 395 trying to find a
place to show you some of these traffic patterns here. the dashcam showing visibility in front of us not very good. and it's getting worse, wolf. our photo journalist are going to find a place here to pull over so we can get out and show you some of these conditions here. virginia state police a short time ago told us, wolf, they have responded to more than 1,100 calls for help today. more than 500 accidents have been reported so far just in the state of virginia. and, again, conditions here starting to deteriorate as we get in to the evening hours. we're heading into the worst part of the storm very, very soon. out the dashcam here you can see in arlington, virginia, people are struggling just to move a few feet. we're going to try to pull over right here, show you some of this. kenny, let's try to find a place here. let's cut in the road right here. we'll be good to pull over. wolf, we have seen snowplow trucks struggling to get by. we have seen a lot of cars struggling to get up hills and things like that. and, again, we haven't even hit the worst of this stuff yet.
we're going to pull over here and get out of the vehicle so we can show you this area of crystal city in arlington county, virginia, here that is just really getting plowed over here with snow. again, in these evening hours here we are -- it's just going to get worse. the worst snow is going to be between midnight and 9:00 a.m. come on out here. show you a look at this visibility, wolf. what we were hearing earlier is that not only is the volume of snow and the wetness of the snow going to be a big issue, but as our meteorologist jennifer gray said, you're going to start seeing thunder snow in some of the later hours here. visibility horrible right now. the good news is is that a lot of people have heeded the warnings and gotten off the roads. as you can see here in crystal city in arlington county, conditions here are getting worse. 395 is already getting snowed over up here. this is as the storm starts to hit this area right now in full force. for millions the snowstorm of a
lifetime is heading into its heaviest stages. it was an early arrival with snowfall seen on the southern edges of washington's beltway before noon. by then d.c. mayor muriel bowser had issued another serious warning. >> we see this as a major storm. it has life and death implications. >> reporter: tennessee and north carolina were hit first early friday with snow and ice pounding charlotte, greensboro, asheville. >> i'm just going to go grab some last-minute snacks here before they decide to close. >> reporter: traffic brought to a standstill in some places. trucks side slipping, cars needing a push. even emergency vehicles got stuck. there were fatalities in north carolina from accidents on i-95. then the storm barrelled north. officials in washington, maryland and virginia are still pleading with people tonight to stay off the roads. >> we want people to stay inside. >> snowplow and salt truck
operators are hoping for that too. >> if there are more people on the roads, how does that make it tougher for you? >> actually makes it very unsafe for the public because what happens is if we go into a slide dealing with the ice, then we have lives at stake. so we're asking the public to please get off the roads, let us do our job safe and they can return once we finish. >> reporter: d.c. officials deployed the national guard and told all city residents to be off the streets by 3:00 in the afternoon. even with 2,500 personnel and 13,000 pieces of equipment to deploy, virginia state officials northern virginia, known for congested roadways and hard to reach subdivisions. officials up the east coast warning it will only get worse. >> while it will begin a light mixture it will become heavy and wet snow at times. >> reporter: as conditions here get worse in arlington and points south and north of here, this is what we're looking at as we get into the evening hours, wolf, conditions on the roads here freezing over. there's a sheen of snow and a
little bit of slush and ice going to form over here in the evening hours. what we're told is even when the snowstorm stops, overnight saturday into sunday, we're being told by auto experts, people at aaa and the national weather service people should not venture out into this even when it stops thinking that the roads are going to be clear. they are not going to be clear. it could take up to 48 hours after this snowstorm stops for the roads to be clear. that means the monday morning commute, wolf, is not going to be pretty. >> you're absolutely right, brian, standby. we're going to get back to you. i want to get the latest now on where the storm is hitting and where it's headed. our meteorologist jennifer gray is here in "the situation room." jennifer, this storm clearly living up to all the expectations. >> absolutely. one thing you have to remember, brian touched on it's a really good point, this is a slow mover. a lot of times we think of these storms they move quickly. this one is going to last quite a while. in the d.c. area alone we could see consistent snowfall for up to 36 hours. and we're talking sometimes two to three inches per hour. so this is a serious storm.
look at the blizzard warnings anywhere from d.c., baltimore, basically all up and down the 95 corridor does include philadelphia and new york. d.c. started snowing right around 1:00 this afternoon. we are still seeing the snow come down as we speak. and it's continuing to inch up to the north. philadelphia, you're right on the fringes. so d.c. do expect those heavy bands to really start to pick up especially around the 10:00 hour tonight around midnight, be listening, you could hear thunder snow during the overnight hours. and then we are going to see it creep up into the new york city area around 10:00 tonight. this is saturday around 8:00. and you can see the snow still around the d.c. area, all over jersey, new york city included in that as well. and then as it moves up to the northeast around 6:00 saturday, still snowing in d.c. doesn't clear out until late saturday night into early sunday morning. new york city you could still see some lingering snow showers sunday morning around 6:00. let me show you one other aspect
to this storm. the winds. it is going to be very windy. we're going to see 30 to 40-mile-per-hour sustained winds, gusts up to 60 miles per hour or more. what that's going to do make visibility for one close to zero. that's what's going to spark those blizzard conditions. and we're also going to see major beach erosion as well as coastal flooding. new jersey could see the worst flooding they've seen since sandy. and so this is a serious situation. and that's why we talk about don't get out on the roads. we're also going to see a couple power outages because of that. a lot of beautiful trees in the d.c. area. we could see power outages because of the winds and also the very heavy wet snow. talking about snowfall totals lastly, want to show you this graphic. d.c., you're in the 24 to 36 inch range, that bullseye just to the west of the city. i think east of the 95 corridor you'll see about two feet, two and a half feet, we could see higher amounts west of 95. and look at that purple bullseye right there. charlottesville, 36 inches or
more. new york city, i think that's going to be the biggest question because depending on exactly the track of this storm and how fast it moves offshore, you could get around 8 to 10 inches. so areas could get higher, some a little lower, wolf. a lot of questions still to be answered but we're in this for the long haul. we're in it now and it's going to be lasting for the next 24 to 36 hours. >> jennifer, you're staying with us throughout the night for complete updates on the forecast. standby for a moment. i want to go to the washington, d.c. mayor muriel bowser. she's giving an update right now. >> if you are parked in a snow emergency route, you will be ticketed and towed. it is critical that we keep our main routes open. and as i said and i will repeat again, we want our residents to stay in place during the duration of the storm. we don't want anybody driving during a blizzard. it's dangerous to do so. and it also can prevent our
first responders and our road crews for making the roads safe when this storm passes. i want to turn to director geldhart now who will talk more specifically about operations. and he will also direct your questions. >> thank you, madame mayor. my name is chris geldart. to give an update where we are right now as everybody knows and the mayor just covered, the snow has started in the district. we are looking at what the storm has done and continues to do on this track to here to keep up-to-date and ensure that we have the appropriate resources moving in the right direction. we have been over the last several days reaching out to jurisdictions and states to ask for assistance with all sorts of manner of things to include snow removal equipment as well as support for our human service areas.
right now we're watching the storm like you are to see what we're going to get and where we're going to end up with this. we want to reiterate again to folks just as the mayor just has, this is a dangerous storm. there are way too many people out on the roads now. and we need to make sure folks are getting where they need to be. we asked folks to be off the road and where they're going to be for this storm at 3:00. we're past that. if you're not where you need to be, please get there. it is just going to get worse. and it's going to get worse fast. the snow is going to come in, you can see the initial bans that we had. we already have a lot of accumulating snow. and we're starting to get accumulating snow on the roads. so, again, this is a dangerous storm. we're asking folks to make sure you are where you need to be now. that's all i have. we'll take questions. >> how would you rate both the government's response and the public's? sounds like the mayor is a little frustrated people are
still out on the roads right now. how would you rate just -- how you guys are keeping up with it and how the public is adhering to your warnings? >> i think as far as the government's perspective we had preparations ongoing up until now. it looks as where we stand today the preparation we put in place are holding. they're what we need to do. we're going to continue to watch the storm and continue to ensure that we're tracking all things we need to. we're going to be plowing continuously throughout the event to make sure that we can get our emergency crews where they need to get to and make sure we're getting roads, the snow off the rds as we can. and i think that's in place where we need it to be. as far as response from the public, we're encouraging and urging, again, everybody to get off the roads. and to be where they need to be. as i said on the outset, this is a dangerous storm. and it's coming fast. and if folks haven't realized it now, you all i'm sure realized it coming here. conditions deteriorating quickly. we need folks to get where they
need to be. >> did you guys learn anything from wednesday night's drama during rush hour that's effecting how you're handling tonight, and again in sort of reinforcing getting people off the roads. >> sure. i think the mayor addressed this earlier today. you're talking about two totally different events. you're talking about what was supposed to be a half inch of snow that became almost two inches of snow. the pretreating that we needed to do for that and the timeframes we needed to do it were not in place how we needed to. this is a different event. we treated 100% of our roads before this storm came in. we've done that. we're now at the point of where that pretreating is not going to be able to sustain with the amount of snow and the time lengths that the snow is coming in. we knew that. which is why we're going to plowing now. really talking about two different types of storms. so i don't think you can compare the response we had earlier in the week to what we're doing for this one. yes, sir. >> you were complaining about groups having -- and things like
that. is your advice being heeded? >> i believe that the recommendations that we gave to folks, the right for life march happened and they were able to hold their event well. we have many cancellations in events that folks had scheduled for tonight and tomorrow. so i think that folks are really understanding that this is a severe storm. and very dangerous. and i think that we've gotten where we need to with that. >> i'm hearing something about streetcars practicing up and down eighth street. is that correct, mayor? are they continuing their practicing runs? >> well, i think -- the director of ddot, why don't we have a public transportation update including streetcar. >> the simulated service for streetcar has been suspended. so streetcars were operating today, but as the hazardous
conditions moved in to the area they suspended service just like the bus service did at 5:00. so when you simulate service, you actually, you know, simulate the operational plan that you would have in place -- >> all right. we're going to continue to monitor the news conference. clearly washington, d.c., this entire area taking a bullseye hit from this monster storm. the nation's capital right now is all but shut down. washington's mayor as you heard is calling it a life or death situation. let's go to cnn's chris frates. chris, the area has been crippled by this initial dusting of snow the other day. this is a lot bigger. that was what barely an inch. now they're getting ready for maybe 30 inches or more. here's the question, are they ready for the big one? >> well, certainly they've spent the last couple days making that case, wolf. muriel bowser a few days ago saying that they're going to treat this storm much differently than they did a few days ago. and officials shut down the government, the federal government was also shut down at
12:00. schools didn't open today. kids got their first snow day before a flake even hit the ground. and that was largely to try to keep people off of these roads. and if you look behind me here, this is 14th street. it's a major thoroughfare in washington, d.c. and at 5:00 on any other weekday it would be packed. and we're not seeing much traffic here, so people seem to be heeding that call so that the trucks can get on the road. and we spent some time in northeast washington at what they call a salt dome earlier today. and they were loading big trucks full of salt. and i want to give you some numbers to give you a sense of the scope that they're doing here. they have 200 plows out on the road. 150 dump trucks. 50 front end loaders. and their salt domes across the city are filled. 39,000 tons, that's tons of salt that they're ready to put down on these roads to try to get ahead of the problems. state of emergency here in d.c., virginia and maryland. that allows federal help to come in, the national guard is oncall
if they need any help. and officials here are trying to warn everybody stay off the road. i think we're seeing that here, wolf. and we heard the mayor make the point that it's a life or death situation. but earlier in the day emergency management director we also saw in that press conference just a second ago said that there will be fatalities in this storm. and he was much stronger than the mayor there. so i think people really need to stay off the roads as suggested. and we're seeing that as this snow piles up they're saying, look, don't come out with your sleds, don't come out with your crosscountry skis, batten down the hatches and don't come out until sunday when we are able to start to clean this thing up and figure out the damage that's done. one other key factor, wolf, we heard from an official who said they're expecting power outages. 50-mile-an-hour winds, that's going to take down trees, those trees are going to fall on power lines. this official said if at the end of this storm there are only, only 25,000 people out of power,
that will be a victory. so clearly they're trying to manage expectations here that people will go dark. they will be cold. and they have heating centers set up around the city in case you are out of heat. you can go to one of those centers. but certainly they're telling people just hang in there, don't put your head up, wait for this thing to pass, wolf. >> very, very dangerous storm. and there are going to be lots and lots unfortunately of power outages, very worried about senior citizens out there as well. we're going to have much more, chris frates, standby. much more breaking news coming up. this is a monster storm. it's powering its way up the east coast right now. new information is coming in on how hard it will hit the east coast of the united states, new york, washington, philadelphia, baltimore. i'll speak with the mayor of baltimore. that's coming up right after a quick break. performance... ...reimagined. style... ...reinvented. sophistication...
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we're following huge breaking news. a very dangerous storm hitting about 85 million americans right now. we're showing you these live video traffic cameras coming in from virginia right now. virginia being hit very, very hard. maryland, pennsylvania, all the way up to new york city and beyond at least 29 million people are expecting blizzard conditions in their immediate area starting tonight. and that includes baltimore. cnn's miguel marquez is on the scene for us. what's it like now, miguel. >> reporter: i think it's safe to say, wolf, blizzard baltimore is on right now. this is transformed this area of the inner harbor. you can see some of the hail and hardy, couple runners are still out here. they'll need snow shoes in 24 hours from now. snow coming down as much as two inches per hour.
they are expecting perhaps as much as 24 inches in baltimore itself. across the state 30 inches, perhaps more. they're warning about winds as well, 25 to 35-mile-per-hour winds. gusts up to 60 miles per hour. one of the biggest concerns that they have is the weight of the snow. they're saying it's going to be a very wet snow. i can tell you right now it looks more powdery, not quite champagne powder like you'd see out west but a little bit powdery. that heavy snow will weight down trees, power lines and roofs. that's what they are most concerned with. they want the cars off the streets. the state has some 2,700 pieces of equipment to keep the big roads clear. they have 365,000 tons of salt to try to keep those big roads clear. but it is those smaller roads that they're worried about, the fire department here in town saying keep those cars off the road because if there is a fire, getting to that fire is going to be very difficult for them. so all agencies here in baltimore on alert. and the concerns amongst
officials over the last several hours has gotten more serious as the weather forecast for what's happening in baltimore has gone from bad to worse, wolf. >> miguel marquez, thanks very much. i want to bring in the mayor of baltimore, stephanie rawlings-blake. mayor, thank you very much for joining us. what are you expecting in your city? >> we are expecting a blizzard of snowmageddon proportions but also expecting to be prepared. we have more equipment than we've ever had in preparation for a snow d before a blizzard. we have salt. we have our emergency responders prepositioned. and i'm feeling confident that we are ready. and we've also been through this before. >> do you have national guard, military personnel on active duty now to help out? >> they're certainly a part of our emergency operations. and they are on the ready as well. >> what is your biggest concern? because i'm very concerned about the elderly, for example. what if you lose power and they're expecting a lot of homes to start losing power very quickly because the snow is
going to get heavier and heavier and trees are about to go down? >> well, you know, this is charm city, and we check on our elderly. we have a system already set up where we're able to call in to elderly residents to make sure that they're okay. we also encourage people all the time to check on their elderly neighbors as well as the disabled. so i'm very hopeful that we're going to continue that tradition of being very neighborly and checking on one another. but we have to -- we're on guard. and we made it through snowmageddon without any deaths related to the storm. we were able to get to every call that we had that was made, emergency call. and we anticipate being able to do that as well as long as people cooperate and stay off the roads. >> here in washington, d.c., the mayor and other officials are saying -- telling people stay off the roads as much as possible. they want everyone off the roads. are you doing the same thing in baltimore? >> absolutely. we're encouraging people to stay off the roads. we sent home our city employees
early and encourage others to do the same. unless you absolutely have to be on the road, we're asking for people to stay indoors. we want to keep everyone safe. and we want to be able to respond to every emergency. and we can't do that if people just leave their cars in the road. >> what about the homeless, mayor, who may still be stuck on some sidewalk, what are you doing about that? >> we have been doing aggressive outreach with our homeless population. we have made sure that we've connected with them, our outreach workers, we have many of them placed. we also have shelter space available as well as hotel rooms available if we need them. >> when is the heaviest snow expected? >> the heaviest snow is expected to be consistently between this evening and not going to end, it's not going to let up at all until tomorrow evening. so we are expecting a big weather event. and we're also, you know, expecting to be prepared for it. >> this is -- they say this is a snowstorm of historic
proportions here in washington they say may be worse than 1922, the so-called knickerbocker storm. is that what you're bracing for just a bit up north in baltimore? >> definitely we pray for the best. we pray for the best, prepare for the worst. and, you know, we think it could rival the snowstorm that we had in 2010, snowmageddon. we hope it's not worse, but as whatever mother nature sends us, you know, we're tough here. and we're prepared. >> mayor stephanie r rawlings-blake of baltimore. mayor, good luck to you and our friends in baltimore. >> thanks, wolf. we're continuing to follow the breaking news coming up. we'll check in with what's going on in new york city. standing by for a news conference from the mayor. i'll speak with the governor of new york as well, jennifer gray, she's looking at the forecast. she's here with us in "the situation room." we'll get latest forecast from jennifer right after this quick break.
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we're following the breaking news. a crippling winter storm gathering strength, affecting about 85 million americans in the eastern parts of the united states. these are live pictures coming in 395 in virginia outside washington, d.c. it's pretty scary driving on the road night now even on these interstates. they're trying to clear them, but the snow is coming down. they're probably going to continue for about at least 24 hours, if not more. jennifer gray is here with me in "the situation room." jennifer, the forecast you got new information all the time that's coming in. and it looks like it's going from bad to worse. >> yeah, it's constantly
updating. we're still on track to have one of the largest snowfall that d.c. has ever seen. and we could see higher amounts as you move up to the north as well. i want to remind everybody that just because it isn't snowing hard doesn't make it a blizzard. blizzard has certain criteria. the winds have to be at least 35 miles per hour and visibility less than a quarter of a mile and that has to last for three hours or more. so we're not quite in the blizzard conditions, but we do have those blizzard warnings in effect including the d.c. area, baltimore, philly, as well as new york. and here's the radar right now. you can see the very heavy snow pulling in to d.c. it is right on the fringes of philadelphia. new york city you have a couple more hours before you start to see snow there. in some of these darker bans you can see coming up into the d.c. area, the next couple of hours we do have the possibility for thunder snow. you could see lightning out there and hear the thunder. it's going to sound a little bit different than it does during thunderstorms. it's going to be the slower rumble. but you could hear thunder snow during the overnight hours. and we are talking two to three feet of snow across the d.c.
area. and we're also talking about the same amounts around baltimore, not going to be quite as high as we get up into philadelphia, but we are expected to see possibly 18 inches of snow or higher amounts. new york city possibly 8 to 10. here is that snowfall graphic where you can see exactly how much we are forecasting. that purple bullseye just to the west of d.c., areas in virginia and just in eastern portions of west virginia you can see that's the highest amounts. d.c., we could see 24 to 36 inches of snow. it is going to be epic. we are talking about worst snowfall possibly than the 1922 storm. also, the winds, we're talking about gusts up to 65, 70 miles per hour. we could see flooding worse than we saw in sandy around new jersey we are talking about beach erosion, coastal flooding, winds will be sustained 35 to 40 miles per hour during the height of this storm, which we are expecting to be around saturday
8:00. and so do be on the look out for that. this is like we've mentioned, wolf, going to be a slow mover. so this is going to last for the next 24 to 36 hours at least. >> jennifer, the phrase thunder snow, explain precisely the definition of thunder snow. >> well, just like you get in a very heavy downpour, you may lightning with thunder. during those bands of very, very heavy snow we also can get the same phenomenon. so we are going to possibly get the lightning, we're going to hear the thunder. it's going to sound a little different, as i mentioned. it's going to be a slower rumble, but we could definitely get thunder snow in the d.c. area, maybe even in the baltimore area and points to the north. >> and this snow right now it's not necessarily all that thick, but it's going to come down very, very thick. and that's going to cause a lot of impact on trees and power outages. >> absolutely. you know, d.c. is just now getting into it. and people are seeing the snow now, no, it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. we're talking about 10:00 tonight, midnight during the overnight hours that thick,
heavy snow is going to cling to the tree branches, the power lines. it's a very wet snow. and not to mention the winds on top of that when we get the winds later tonight at about 35, 40-mile-per-hour sustained winds and you're going to see gusts possibly 55, 60 miles per hour or more, that is going to be more than enough to take down some of the trees, power lines and so we're going to be worried about that as we get into the morning hours. >> jennifer, standby. i'm going to get back to you. i want to check in on what's going on in new york city because it looks worse than originally expected. but there is a state of emergency we're now told. it is in effect in virginia. cnn's nick va lens ya is joining us. he's with crews from the virginia department of transportation. nick, what's happening where you are? >> well, the cold has been a concern all day long, wolf. and that's become even more of a major concern just in the last hour or so. if you want to pan up there, jeff, and show the viewers what we're talking about. that wind steady flow exactly what jennifer was speaking about in this area of the storm.
of course it's all about the snow. we'll show you just how much has accumulated. say about 2 inches of snow so far. and this salt right here is what the crews out on the roads are using to treat those roads, make sure that you're safe out there on those fairfax interstates. let's bring in steve shannon, he is with the virginia department of transportation. you're in charge of all those fleets, the thousands of trucks that are out there on the roads right now. how are you guys doing? >> everybody is holding up. i'm sure they're doing well. i mean, we really just started. we've got several days of this so they're doing well. >> reporter: you spent the past couple of hours with us. we were actually right on the edge of interstate 66. how did the roads look to you when we were out there an hour or so ago? >> i was pleased with what i saw. i'm even more pleased with the fact there's not a lot of traffic out there. that's important. and i think people are heeding the warning and staying off. this is a dangerous storm. >> reporter: we know the emergency briefing happened just a little while ago at 5:00 p.m. dozens of accidents, virginia state police saying over 500 accidents. how concerned are you that there's going to be even more going forward?
>> hopefully there won't be. most of that happened during our earlier rush hour and all. hopefully there will be a lot fewer. but again, people need to stay home and stay off the roads. it is dangerous. >> reporter: and you guys have been doing a lot to prepare. thank you so much, steve. we appreciate your work. they've been starting preparation back in june for a storm system like this. over the course of the last 18 hours, wolf, those 4,000 pieces of equipment, heavy equipment, snowplows have hit the roads of fairfax and throughout virginia. of course this is going to last all throughout the weekend. 3 to 6 inches of snow per hour at the height. i was speaking to a spokeswoman here for the virginia department of transportation. they were saying that they were being advised by the national weather service that there could be up to 40 inches of snow between now and early sunday. so this storm system is really all it seems to be, wolf. >> yeah. and a lot of people are going to lose power, too, unfortunately. that's going to cause a lot more problems. nick, thank you very much. we'll take a quick break. much more on the breaking news. this monster storm hitting the east coast right now. we'll be right back.
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we're following the breaking news, a very dangerous winter storm affecting 85 million americans here on the east coast. cnn's brian todd is out on the roads. he's around washington, d.c. brian, what are you seeing now where you are? >> wolf, conditions here getting much worse as we progress into the evening. the traffic is actually thinned
out, but we just saw someone spinout in front of us. we're going to switch to our dashcam at the fronlt. i'm going to get out. i'm not sure if our photo journalist can too. it may be a little dangerous for him over there, but i can get out on mine and we can switch to our dashcam. this person just did a 180 and is now facing the opposite direction. and someone has just come to her aid right here. but the conditions as you can see are getting much worse. some people who are in suvs and other heavy vehicles seem to be getting a little overconfident thinking they can go faster than they can go, but the slush has really built up on this highway right now. and this person just spun out. let me just see if she can talk to us briefly for a second. ma'am, are you all right? >> yeah, i'm okay. >> can you tell us what happened? >> i don't understand what happened. i was driving straight and then the car just spun around. i tried to get over and the car just spun, just completely spun. >> were you on the right side or near the center? >> where that van is, so far
lane. the car just spun. >> are you going to be able to get off the road soon, do you think? >> yeah, that's my boyfriend. he's going to turn around and i'm going to follow him the whole way. >> good luck tonight. >> thank you. >> wolf, we have a virginia state trooper pulled over to try to help these people. this is just a microcosm of what people are going to be going through tonight, wolf. things are getting much worse. visibility i can tell you is almost nil out here. it's going to get worse as the night progresses, but right now this is what we're looking at along 395 south in virginia. >> well, fortunately the woman is unhurt. her car did spin around. hopefully she'll be able to get going pretty soon. we see that virginia state trooper there now on the scene. we see that car backing up. let's see if they can straighten it out. it's very dangerous on these interstates right now. brian, i want you to be careful on the sides over there as well. yep, they're turning it around. fortunately i think that car's going to be okay. the woman's going to be okay. they're going to continue to go on their road. let's take another quick break. much more on the breaking news when we come back.
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(train wheels on tracks) it had no mouth, but it spoke to me. it said, "rocky mountaineer: all aboard amazing". we're following the breaking news that dangerous winter storm now affecting 85 million people in the eastern united states. want to quickly go back to brian todd on the roads not far away from washington. brian, we just saw that accident. that woman's car spun around. you had a chance to speak to the state trooper, is that right? >> reporter: that's right, wolf. the lady was able to get out. her track marks are there. i'm with the trooper chris that came to help her. what are you most worried about now? >> people driving too fast for road conditions and being out
here when they don't need to be. >> reporter: what are some mistakes, this lady did a 180, too fast? >> too fast, over confident their driving ability, vehicle ability. >> reporter: thank you. chris says this is pretty much the most dangerous part of his job when he has to pull over and help people in these conditions when people are going too fast. it's getting worse. visibility is getting worse. we're going to get on the road and see if we can find other situations like this but very treacherous out here right now. >> the concern is that a lot of people especially in washington d.c. area in virginia, maryland, they are not used to a monster storm like this, brian. they are not necessarily used to driving in the ice and the snow and with heavy winds about to develop, as well, they got to get these people off the roads. what are the authorities doing to get people off the roads? >> reporter: well, they are basically putting the word out on social media and in the standard media to get people off the roads, and you're right,
especially in the washington area, wolf, i had a traffic reporter tell me yesterday that a lot of drivers in this area are from elsewhere. they are not used to driving in these conditions, and they don't make good decisions behind the wheel when they do encounter these conditions. to give you an idea about the broader region and what the warnings are, the tennessee state highway patrol just tweeted out quote, we are desperately asking thinned out
but look at the traffic. for the state patrols still too many people out on the road, wolf. >> reporter: be careful on the sides of the roads. a lot of people worry the about you. i know you're about to get in your vehicle. we'll check back with you, thanks very much. we have new information on the monster storm impacting
happening now, breaking news, the blizzard of 2016 potentially one of the biggest storms on record bringing brutal winter weather to one-third of the united states. states of emergency declared up and down the east coast with residents of the nation's capital being told there are life and death implications. some of the country's largest cities prepared? tracking the storm, details of who will bare the blunt and the snow and wind increasing expected to continue for days. millions of people expected to lose power. are they prepared to tough it out alone? total shut down, schools and governments closed. mayor sporting veevents cancell with 6,000 flights. the storm paralyziing washingto. the mayor joins us with critical information. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer.
you're "the situation room." >> this is cnn breaking news. we're following the breaking news 85 million americans right now in the path of a dangerous storm. blizzard warnings stretching from washington to new york with winter weather extending north of boston and south to atlanta. states of emergency are in effect in six states, as well as here in washington d.c. residents are being told they could be dropped in doors for 36 hours. this is expected to be one of the strongest storms ever to hit the nation's capital where the national guard has been deployed and the mayor says there are life and death implications. our correspondents are all along the east coast covering the crisis and we'll be talking to top officials as we bring you the most critical information this hour. let's begin with our
meteorologist jennifer gray. before our coverage, this is only the beginning and this storm is continuing to strengthen. >> you're exactly right, wolf. that is key to remember. this is not going to be over in two or three hours. 24 hours, 36 hours, even longer and talking about mayor city experiencing blizzard conditions in the coming hours, places like d.c., baltimore, philadelphia, new york and all of the towns in between and this could last for several hours on end. blizzard conditions. we're talking about winds 35 miles per hour or greater sustained winds, visibility less than a quarter of a mile and lasting for three hours or more. we're in it for d.c, new york city a couple hours to go but d.c. by 10:00 tonight, the snow is going to be extremely heavy. we're talking about blizzard conditions possibly around the midnight hour and you could actually hear thundersnow as you
go through the overnight hours, as well. so virginia is going to see the blunt of this as we go forward in time. look at this. the rain starts to push on shore just a little bit as we get into saturday morning but still, a lot of snow for the d.c. area. northern portions of jersey, new york city, long island still getting the snow and even portions of massachusetts seeing it by saturday evening. still in it in d.c. saturday evening. it is going to be sunday morning in the wee hours of the morning before it starts to move out of the d.c. area but new york city by sunday morning, you could see a few lingering snow flakes that's why we're talking about we are in this for the long haul. tonight the monster storm is barrelling up with a roughly a quarter of u.s. population in its path. several fatalities are blamed on the storm, which quickly left parts of north carolina and tennessee frozen under a blanket of snow and ice crippling the region. with 30 million people under
blizzard warnings as the storm moves jor cities are bracing. the storm's biggest target, washington d.c. the mayor today issuing an ominous warning. >> i want to be very clear with everybody. we see this as a major storm. it has life and death e implications. >> reporter: to minimize the storm's massive impact, federal agencies closed early and all public transportation services will be suspended by later tonight. popular landmarks like the national mall have also been closed to the public. today, the national weather service extended its blizzard warning to include philadelphia and new york city. millions now staring down a storm that could rank among the worse in nearly a century. we're not talking about inches of snow in the d.c. area but
feet of snow. could see up to three feet. looking at eight to ten inches in the new york city area give or take a little bit. we're also going to see very strong winds gust up to 65, 70 miles per hour during the height of this storm, which will be tomorrow morning. we could see mayjjor beach erodg and so the winds are going to be a serious concern, wolf, when you talk about power outages, as well. 40 miles per hour sustained winds with gusts up to 60 and more than enough to take down trees and power lines. >> that's a really powerful and dangerous storm. jennifer, stand by. the new york city area is in line to get hammered by this winter storm. trucks and plows are being moved south from elsewhere in the state. joining us now on the phone is the governor of new york andrew cuomo. thanks very much for joining us. eight to ten inches in new york city, is that what your forecasters are telling you, as well? >> basically, wolf. good to be with you.
the national weather service upped it lately, the forecast. so, you know, in a situation like this you prepare for the worst and hope for the best. the forecasts give you the best information they can at the time and you plan around that but as you mentioned, we've been deploying all the assets from across the state down to the new york city long island area. that's the area that all forecasts say will bear the blunt. the snow is problematic but we can handle that. the coastal flooding for new york and long island is actually in my opinion a worse problem. we went through sandy. the good news is we have some experience and we've actually built in resilience that we didn't have before. the bad news is there's only so much you can do and when mother nature brings her wrath, she
brings it as you were just saying snow plus heavy wind gusts is a bad combination. especially outside of the new york city area, long island, westchester, et cetera. it brings down trees. brings down branchs. brings down power lines. and the situation gets much different when the power is out. and now it really becomes a crisis. >> it certainly does, governor. because what worries me is all those homes, it's freezing outside and all those homes going to be without power and there are children, elderly people. what can you do about that as a governor of a mayor state? i'm really worried about long island. >> that's what we went through with super storm sandy, exactly that combination. plus, the flooding. the flooding creates an evacuation issue right from get-go and i used to work in the federal government. every area has its own
circumstances and geography that presents its own problems. in new york, long island, the density becomes a problem. it's very hard to quickly evacuate new york city or long island, which is especially an island but a peninsula. all the roads lead into new york city area. so evacuation is very, very difficult. it's one of the geographic problems that we face. the power outage, we had people during hurricane sandy that had no power for two or three weeks. during that period, luckily, the weather broke a bit but you are right. it is a true health and safety issue when you put that storm together with power outages. we had people coming in from all across the country to help with line trucks to install power
lines but we had thousands and thousands of lines down. so depending on the storm, it can get very bad, very quickly. >> governor, good luck to you and the new yorkers. we know this is going to be obviously a horrendous situation and we hope for the best. the governor of new york, andrew cuomo, thank you very much. here in washington, residents are being asked to stay off the streets right away. that appeal started at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon with the mayor saying this storm has life and death implications for all of us. chris is along the national mall for us. chris, the city, the government all shut down right now. what are you seeing? are you hearing? >> reporter: well, wolf, the mayor and officials here have urged all the citizens to get off the street and if you look, this is 14th street. 6:00 on any other night, this would be popping. there would be all kinds of people around the intersections would be crowded. we're not seeing that tonight. that message is getting through.
not surprising because the federal government and the city government both shut down at noon today. schools were out all day long. so that message seems to be resinating. the mayor saying it's life or death and emergency management director saying this storm will bring fatalities and they need to stay off the treat. we're starting to see that. there's been a trickle of traffic. it started to subside. there is a lot of people on the road, though, wolf. >> it's an awful situation, indeed and we hear a lot of sirens going off right behind you. chris freights on the national mall for us. let's get more on the dangers. the mayor of washington is joining us. mayor, is this as bad as you anticipated? >> well, wolf, thanks for coming to us. it started a little bit earlier than forecasted. the storm started coming in at 1:00 p.m. it's wet. coming fast and we think the forecast is going to hold 36
hours of snow and high winds. >> is the city ready? >> we are throwing every resource we had. i stood up my emergency operation at 6:00 p.m. this morning. we have fully pretreated our streets. we closed our government at noon so that everybody could get home and get home safely. we want people to stay inside where it's safe. ride out this storm and just as soon as its over, we'll start the cleanup. >> you said it has life and death implications. people should treat it that way. people should hunker down, shelter in place and stay off the roads. what happens if they lose power and it's freezing in their homes? do they do then? >> well, wolf, we have set up, and as the governor was just talking to you about, any time
that you have winds like this, you can expect that trees will go gown and power lines will go down. our emergency management folks have been working with the utility provider here and the model suggestions that as few as 25,000 people could lose power here in washington d.c. but could approach 100,000 people. we have set up warming centers in each area of the district of columalumombia colombia, if people lose power, there will be facilities people can get warm. >> we just got word further south from where we are here in washington d.c. 123,000 customers already lost power in the southeast. 110,000 of them in the carolinas alone. according to duke energy. that's a lot of people and presumably, we're going to get more snow here than there.
we're bracing for the worse. you got national guard and military personnel on duty to help. >> absolutely. we've tapped our national guard already early in the week. they are providing critical vehicle support to us so that we can get our essential personnel in to work to serve the residents and visitors of washington d.c. so that has been critical. our power company, wolf, also put out a call for mutual assistance. they are bringing in aid not only to our fellow americans in the carolinas but we know they will tap aid for our response in washington d.c., too. >> finally, mayor, what's the most important thing you want washington people to do now? >> we want them to stay inside, stay off the roads, staying inside allows our vehicles to
keep the roads passable for emergencies, and as soon as the snow and winds stop, it will allow us to get the roads clear so we can get back to some normal operations. the other thing we want them to do is be safe. if they are using an alternate heat source, be careful. they are not going to have a fire. be careful they don't have carbon monoxide that can poison their families. also, take care of themselves and any medical care they need and if they need us, of course, to call 911. >> good advice from murie muriel bowser. good luck to you and the personnel fighting and working to protect everyone. thanks very much. we're getting more information on other parts of the east coast about to be impacted by this monster storm. we'll take a quick break and be right back. the microsoft cloud allows us to
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snowing here in washington, it's only just beginning. this could go on for 24 hours, maybe longer. pennsylvania avenue, this stop from the museum here in washington d.c. stormily at this time on a friday night, that pennsylvania avenue traffic would be bumper to bumper. you see very few cars on the streets of the nation's capital now. we're following the breaking news, this dangerous winter storm affecting 85 million americans on the east coast. blizzard warnings in washington to new york city with severe winter weather stretching from atlanta up to boston. our meteorologist jennifer gray is with us. these conditions clearly seem to be deteriorating. >> yeah, deteriorating by the
minute. we've been on for the last hour and a half or so and just in that time, you can see the progression of the snow line, d.c. we're in the thick of it but look, philadelphia just about an hour ago, the snow falling there. new york city is getting closer and closer to you so in the next couple hours, you'll start to see your first snow flakes but as we get into late tonight into tomorrow morning, we'll comment to see very, very heavy snow. this is not going to go away soon. this will last from 24 to 36 hours so by the time we get to the morning, do expect more than a foot of snow on the ground in d.c. and then into the afternoon we could see totals as high as two to three feet and keep in mind because the winds will going to be so strong, 30 to 40 mile per hour sustained winds with gusts higher. some areas will look like they got a little snow and other areas will look way more than forecasted because the wind is blowing all of this snow around
and so that's also going to cause visibility to be zero. you can see the bull's eye in western or northern portions of virginia and eastern portions of west virginia and d.c. at the 24 to 36-inch range. new york city could see a foot depending, we could see higher amounts or not as high. so wolf, we're in it for the long haul to be still be talking about it this time tomorrow night. >> a very dangerous, dangerous storm. the mayor of washington saying it's life or death be very, very careful. jennifer, we'll get back to you. i'll go to brian todd on northern virginia. the roads are treacherous and only going to get worse. >> reporter: it's only getting worse and i talked to the trooper up the road a bit when he was helping out a stranded motorist that spun out.
the same trooper has to deal with an abandoned vehicle in front of the squad car here. this is what start officials and aa and others are telling us you cannot do in this situation. you should not abandon your vehicle. stay in your vehicle until you're rescued and if you have to turn the car on for five minutes to get warm, do that then turn it off to save a little battery power and gas but stay with your vehicle until you're rescued. this state trooper that could be helping out other people who are stranded now has to deal with an abandoned vehicle. they say do not do that. look at the snow behind me on . the side of the road it's probably a good six inches accumulated on the side but if you look over here on 395, a major highway, going north and south into d.c., it's the slush is just piling up. we saw two snowplows go by us. there is not much they can do now, they are trying to clear some of this off. they can't keep up with the volume. the state trooper said south of
here on dale boulevard there is a multiple car pipele up and officials are saying stay off these roads. >> good advice. more than 6,000 flights have already been cancelled today and tomorrow because of the storm. let's go to our aviation correspondent rene marsh at regan international airport outside washington d.c. rene, we're certain to see more cancellations for all practical purses, i take it regan national has shut down. >> reporter: pretty much, wolf. i can tell you this storm managed to bring air travel in the north east to a halt. thousands and thousands of cancellations have stacked up. washington d.c., baltimore at a complete standstill and how is this for a picture? friday night 6:00 p.m. and take
a look down there, absolutely quiet. not a soul inside this airport. passengers showing up hours before the scheduled flight. >> it's this for the next several days. >> reporter: tonight, most airlines have cancelled flights up and down the east coast through saturday flight track k website shows dwindling air traffic over the blizzard's path. travelers waited in long lines early this morning in hopes of beating the storm but only a few were lucky enough to get on some of the last flights out. >> our flight was for sunday and we found one ticket to leave today for las vegas. >> reporter: so you do not want to take any chances? >> not at all. yeah, we want to get out. we're going to get out. >> reporter: beginning tomorrow, all flights in and out of philadelphia international airport will be cancelled. regan international will also stop operations but it's not
just air travel, officials are warning drivers to keep off roads, as well. >> i've never seen it this bad, oh, no, there is nothing they can do but sit there so i thought i'm going to walk. >> reporter: ice and snow made for hazardous driving conditions in tennessee, kentucky, and north carolina this morning. high winds are expected to complicate efforts to keep the roads clear, major bridges could be closed and many states have asked drivers to stay off the roads. all right. at this hour, wolf, today through this weekend nearly 7,000 cancellations that are likely as you mentioned to see the cancellations continue to stack up. it could take two, three or more days to clear the backlog of passengers and get people to where they need to go, wolf. >> rene, we'll stay in touch with you, as well.
rene marsh at regan international airport which is now shut down. joining us on the phone right now is the spokeswoman for the national park service national capital region. jenny, thanks very much for joining us. explain what the park service is doing right now as a result of this blizzard. >> thanks, wolf, to put this in context the national park service managed over 700 park areas that range in size and several major roadways like the george washington memorial parkway. what we're doing right now is working to plow nearly 300 miles of road clear and shovel numerous sidewalks. we want visitors to stay safe and come back out once the storms ended. >> what about the parks? you're telling people to stay away from the parks.
>> you know, the safety of our employees and visitors is the top priority. hunker down, heed advice and stay off the roads, stay home and stay safe. if you do have to venture out, bring extra clothes, energy snacks and water and be prepared to spend more time outside than you anticipated. >> are there any homeless people in the parks? i lived in washington for a long time and seen that from time to time. >> it certainly can be a challenge. the city set up stations and community services, we work close to to help people all the time but especially like the weather is today. >> jenny, thanks very much. good luck to you and all your colleagues. we know you're doing important work. the conditions they certainly are treacherous now and the roads all along the east coast, we'll get a live update as the breaking news continues.
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facility. nick, how bad are the roads where you are? >> reporter: hey, there, wolf, the cold is an issue. the roads not so much. this area did a lot to prepare for the pending storm that will cause havoc across the weekend. we're outside on interstate 66 and saw cars moving pretty slowly on those roads. the conditions are looking pretty good. virginia state police of course saying there have been more than 500 accidents out there on those interstates. this is the kind of material they are treating the roads with. they have about 4,000 pieces of heavy equipment out there from snowplows, heavy machinery, treating the roads under preparations since june we're told by the spokes people and also taking their own precautions clearing the roadways, clearing the sidewalks here. it is going to be especially brutal at about 9:00 p.m. when the wind picks up. we hear from estimates of the national weather is service, perhaps up to 40 inches of snow with the height being between
three and six inches per hour. this storm is really all it's been billed to be, wolf? >> nick, thanks very much. i want to get the latest on the situation in virginia. the governor is joining us on the phone now. governor, thanks very much. we've declared a state of emergency in the commonwealth of virginia. the snow started. where do you expect it to hit the hardest? >> well, listen, we were the first state yesterday to declare. we went out thursday morning at 8:00 and the reason you do that, wolf, it allows you to take weight restrictions off and reposition heavy equipment. we moved equipment to northern virginia. we have 13,000 pieces of equipment. 9500 personnel on the streets. we're looking at really the i 81 interstate 81 which carries 70,000 cars and trucks a day. that is obviously top concern. we've seen southwest virginia get hit very hard and of course, millions of people who live in northern virginia. so we got the national guard.
i authorized 500 stood up yesterday. i just signed the order for that. they are doing active missions. all of the state police, everybody is out. we got the salt. 650,000 tons of salt. two million gallons of liquid salt. we have the trucks. we got the equipment. we got the personnel. so we're pretreating ready to go and got plows. i'm comfortable we'll handle the big storm. >> not just snow, heavy snow, governor, as you know with huge, very, very high winds and there will be power outages because trees will fall down on power lines. what are you bracing for as far as power outages are concerned? >> right now we have 1,117 power outages in the commonwealth. we brought in about 60 teams prom states around the country who can come in to assist us to do it. it will be a big issue. northern virginia, a lot of
trees and with this heavy snow they will be down. we have emergency operations center. we got a couple hundred people now operating. i've been operating out of the governor's command center in the patrick henry building. we're monitoring the outages and as soon as they happen we'll pull trucks. if we can get the roads clean, and wolf, i cannot stress enough, please stay off the roads. we have equipment but if you're in the car and abandon the car in the middle of the a road, it hurts our ability to get the roads clean. when the roads are clean, we can get the utility trucks to fix it. stay off the roads for the next 36 hours. >> what worries me in maryland, pennsylvania, new york state. i spoke to the governor in new york. once you have power outages in this kind of freezing weather, what are the people supposed to do if they are stuck in freezing homes? >> that's one reason we have so many, as i say, have 700
national guardsmen and women to call the emergency number. we are prepared to help everybody. we will go in, evacuate folks. we have active missions going on now throughout the commonwealth, as we speak i have 23 missions going on now with the guard getting people out of their homes, evacuating, getting people to medical attention they need. but right now, you know, 11, as i say, with about 1100, we can handle that. we're on top of that situation. through the next 24 hours, the key is keeping the roads clean wednesday before it started i dispatched 500 trucks to northern virginia before it started to get those roads, to get the treatment, to get the salt on the roads. so i mean, we're prepared and there and if there is issues, we can move very quickly. we're proud of the folks helping deal with this situation. >> yeah -- >> we're very confident and prepared and ready to go. >> unfortunately, the storm is only beginning and could last 24 to 36 hours so the power
outages, i'm sure, will get a whole lot worse. bottom line right now, governor, what's your message to virginians? >> my message to everyone in virginia is stay off the roads. stay home. 13,000 pieces of equipment right now moving around the commonwealth. 9500. 2500 state employees and about 7,000 contract employees are out working around the clock and stay on duty now and go through the storm help us do our job, just stay off the roads. we're going to be able to do it and then next week, we're going back into the 40s. we get these roads clean and will be back, the commerce of virginia will be back very quickly. >> i'm sure it will. governor, thank you very much. the governor of virginia. we're going to continue to follow the breaking news. much more information is coming in. we'll take a quick break. we'll be right back. you can't predict the market. but through good times and bad...
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live pictures from washington d.c. right now. the snow is coming down and it's intensifying as we speak. it could continue for at least 24 hours, maybe 36. blizzard warnings posted from washington to new york as this potentially record-breaking storm pounds one-third of the united states and continues to strengthen tonight. let's go back to brian todd in
northern virginia for us. brian, the roads are clearly treacherous. you've seen accident after accident, cars stuck along the side. what's the latest? >> reporter: wolf, the latest is we were told of an accident here in dale city, virginia on an exit off 95 south heading from d.c. towards southern virginia. i'll get out of the car here and go to the dash camera. cars are struggling to get off the exit. on the dashcam now, we're told there is an accident of multiple cars to my left, to your right. there are some police vehicles over here but because of that accident, there are several motorists now who are struggling to get off the highway, which they want -- many of them want to do. the visibility is getting much worse as we move along. there are heavy layers of slush along 95. this is a major highway. the snowplows cannot keep up
with the volume coming down tonight. we're told that high winds are going to start to be a problem a little later and that's going to cause snow drift. you can see the accumulation here, it's a good six inches already along the sides, the slush and the thick snow starting to develop along the roads here. there are the police vehicles down there trying to get to the scene of an accident. we were trying to get to it. we can't get past this line right now. we're going to try to move a little closer in a little bit. wolf, again, the state police are telling people don't abandon your vehicles. stay off the roads. this is what you're up against if you come on and even when you try to get off the highways now, sometimes you're jammed up and sitting here maybe for a period of hours, wolf. >> pretty dangerous situation, brian. be careful. we'll get back to you. we understand it's getting worse in baltimore not far away. miguel miguel marquez is on the scene. a lot of people are worried about baltimore. what are you seeing, miguel?
>> reporter: there is reason to worry. officials have got more serious in concerns about this particular storm. the wind is starting to pick up. i want to show you what is happening here. they are worried about wet snow. the wind is starting to pick up, maybe gusting to 15, 20 miles per hour. it does hurt when you're out in it. overnight, though, they are expecting wind to get up to 25, 30 to 35 miles per hour and gusting up to 65 miles an hour in baltimore. a few people are out but this is the inner harbor here in baltimore tonight, not a lot of people out. they are trying to get out there on strothe streets and get them clear. the big concerns are about keeping the streets clear because if there are fires and emergency vehicles need to get somewhere will be very difficult to do if they can't get there. a lot of resources statewide. the state of maryland in an emergency state, as well. 2700 vehicles trying to clear those roads, major roads throughout the state. 365,000 tons of salt to keep the
roads clear. they believe they are ready for this, but it's anyone's guess this storm expected only to get worse. they are expecting two inches of snow per hour at certain points and once the wind kicks up, they are very, very concerned about the effect on the residents and people's ability to move about and if they don't have food, water, shelter, warmth those things now, it may be getting too late, wolf? >> very dangerous situation, miguel marquez, thanks very much. the storm is bringing freezing rain to parts of the carolinas making roads impassable and knocking down trees and power lines. cnn's alina machado is live for us. i heard customers are without power there. >> reporter: wolf, the situation is difficult all day. the city of charlotte is a virtual ghost town. we seen rain to slow to sleet.
sidewalks covered with at least a couple inches of snow and not the light fluffy stuff, snow that looks like this, icy, hard, heavy, also worth noting, look at the light pole. this is ice starting to accumulate. this is what officials here are very concerned about. so far about 110,000 people in the carolinas, we're talking north carolina, south carolina without power right now. if this sleet continues to fall, if we continue to see snow and it stays below freezing overnight, the situation here, wolf, could get much worse. >> alina be careful. we'll get back in touch. let's hope for the best. we're tracking this storm. we're getting new information coming into "the situation room." more on the breaking news right after this. ♪ ♪ those who define sophistication stand out.
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. breaking news, blizzard warnings posted from washington to new york and a potentially record-breaking storm pounds one-third of the united states and it's continuing to strengthen and could go on for at least 24 hours, maybe 36 hours. let's go to brian todd where the roads are treacherous. it's about to get a whole lot worse. >> reporter: it's already getting a whole lot worse, wolf. the temperature is dropping precipitously right now. the snow is starting to kind of drift side ways because the wind is kicking up. that's going to cause snowdrift and that's going to make the roads even more treacherous. this is an exit near dale city, virginia. i can tell you that the state police trooper that just talked
to me said they are blocking this exit. they put the pile-ones to block the exit because people trying to get off have gotten stuck moving to the right and trying to get up that hill. right now, the police can't do much to help them. they are trying to call tow trucks to help people trying to get off the exit and go up the hill. but look, it's pretty much gridlock. the good news is, on the main highway, 95 north to south, we're seeing far more fewer vehicles on the road than an hour ago. people are starting to heed the warnings and get off the roads. but again, look what they are up against when they do that. part of the problem, in northern virginia, it's very hilly. you're not dealing with a straight-away. you're dealing with a steep incline or decline and that's what we're dealing with right here. some of these people may be stranded for a while and that's
why people say you should not be out here and certainly do not go out later on. >> brian, thank you. power outages and a growing danger in this storm. joining us is kevin curtis. thanks very much. how many customers in virginia are now without power? >> reporter: good evening, wolf. right now we have about 600 customers out across our service area in virginia. >> we know in the carolinas more than 100,000 customers have already lost power. what are you bracing for over the next 24 to 48 hours? >> we knew it was going to be a potential for significant outages. we've been preparing since the beginning of the week and we've got over 4,000 personnel ready to go and some of those folks from far away as florida and arkansas and crews are working 24 hours around the clock to restore power as quickly as possible in the event that it does go out. >> the snow is very heavy and
winds are going to be very, very high. this is potentially going to knock down trees and, as a result, knock down power lines. you're bracing for that, right? >> absolutely. that's the greatest threat. we didn't expect many outages a the this point in the storm but as you've been showing extremely well in your show tonight, we expect the worst part of the storm to be ahead of us and the threat with the wet snow and high winds is the greatest potential risk for knocking trees and limbs on power lines and will then take power out. >> kevin, thank you. good luck to you and all of your crews. a lot of people are counting on you guys. thank you very much. our breaking news blizzard news is going to continue in a moment but, first, an update on the race for the white house and a major political war, a civil war is drewing. sunlen serfaty is in iowa tonight. republicans are turning on republicans. update our viewers. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. this is a real struggle going on
within the establishment wing of the republican party. in one corner you have those who are intent on stopping donald trump and in another corner on those taking down ted cruz. >> people don't even think about the national reviews. >> reporter: in an unprecedented move, the conservative magazine, "the national review" out with a complete and total take down on donald trump saying he will take the work of generations and trample it under foot on behalf of a populism as the donald himself. 20 respected conservatives are piling on. trump is trying to shrug t off. >> it's a dying paper. >> reporter: and cruz is raked over the coals by establishment republicans and criticized by bob dole and chuck grassley calling cruz an extremist and bringing wholesale losses to the
party if he wins. the chaos underscores just ten days to the iowa caucuses how much of the establishment wing the republican party is still deeply dissatisfied with the front-runners. but with trump and cruz on top on the polls, the decision the party is now forced in to facing, who will do more harm to the party long term. >> whether it's death by being shot or poisoning, does it really matter? >> reporter: the two continue to inflict serious blows on each other. >> cruz is going down. he had his moment and blew it. >> reporter: cruz unloading his first negative tv ad today. >> i want immigration reform to pass. >> reporter: and eminent domain, using public property for private use. an issue that resonating with new hampshire voters.
>> using government power to seize private people's home to give them to giant corporations to say hypothetically build a casino. >> reporter: trump today shooting back, tweeting in response, quote, without it, we wouldn't have road, highways, airports, schools or even pipelines. and the rnc has responded to the the "national review" and will not participate in the republican debate with the candidates next month. wolf? >> sunlen serfaty, thank you. don't forget, monday night, a cnn town hall meeting in iowa with three of the presidential candidates. we're following all of the breaking news on this historic storm hitting the greater washington, d.c., area. these are live pictures coming in from the nation's capital. you can see the snow. it's only just beginning really it's going to go on for at least 24, maybe 36 hours from washington up to baltimore,
philadelphia, and then on to new york city, long island. the winds that will be a huge, huge problem. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." cnn's coverage of this historic storm continues with erin burnett "outfront." good evening to all. i'm erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, following the breaking news, you're looking at live pictures right now of a snowstorm of epic proportions sweeping across much of the united states. nearly 100 million people in this deadly storm's path. the amazing pictures that you're seeing show the breadth of the storm. this one is from outer space. you can see how huge it is and it's breaking record. snowfall totals already breaking records, up to 3 feet in some areas predicted. you can see how heavy it's coming down. strong winds, gusting as high as
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