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Big Snowstorm in Northeast; Long Island Expressway Closed; Fraud Charges For "Dead" Banker; Original Cheerios GMO-Free; Blackout Looms for Three NFL Teams

Aired January 3, 2014 - 06:30   ET


INDRA PETERSONS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's the reason places in Massachusetts and even Long Island have blizzard warnings. You're talking about dry snow. You have winds going anywhere from even 30 to 40 miles per hour, picking it up, blowing it around and that visibility taking you down to less than a quarter mile.

That's pretty much the criteria when you get that for a prolonged period of time. You can see that blowing on my face right now. That's the concern that brings, of course, those blizzard warnings into the region.

What we're going to be watching for, this snow. It is going to keep falling, especially through the next several hours, late morning it tapers off and then it kind of moves from west to east as it builds and lifts offshore off the coastline.

But there's something else going on. We actually have ocean effect snow. So this low that's built offshore is taking that moisture off the ocean and bringing heavy amounts, as much as two feet north of us here in Essex County in Boston, that's how much snow they'll be looking at.

Once the snow clears off and moves offshore you have the winds that are left here. They're going to be producing more snow off of Cape Cod. So, a lot to be dealing with, not to mention, I think we all know this by now. It is cold. By the time the storm gets out of here, you'll have to try to dig up the snow in negative 20 degree temperatures.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: Ocean effect snow, this is an interesting concept that I haven't been made aware of. Thanks for sharing that with us. And it's interesting, you said sometimes you can't see the snow on camera. We can see it coming down and how strong the wind is where you are, Indra.

Bundle up. We'll get back to you for another look at the forecast coming up, OK?


PEREIRA: In the meantime, one of the biggest, busiest roads connecting much of Long Island is under a driving ban. The Long Island expressway is set to officially re-open later this morning. But the state kept it closed to avoid traffic troubles so they can get some of the snow cleared out of there.

Now, this also happens to be the first big test for New York City's new mayor who decided to close schools on just his third day on the job.

Alexandra Field joins us more -- for more with a look at Long Island conditions and more on the mayor as well. Welcome to your new job, sir.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Great. A big welcome. Not the welcome he was expecting. We heard him say that.

But this is the kind of thing a storm this size always tests politicians. We'll see how everyone comes through this. But, right now, as we are in the thick of it, the goal really is to keep everyone safe. That's why the decision was made this morning to keep the kids home.

And if you take a look out here at the Long Island expressway, it's why the governor decided to put a ban on driving out here. You can see not everyone is following it.

That ban, we should drive this point home, is supposed to be in effect until at least 8:00 this morning that's because the snow is still falling, the temperatures is dropping and a blizzard warning remains in effect out here on Long Island until 1:00 today.


FIELD (voice-over): Throughout the night, blizzard-like conditions on Long Island, eastern parts of the island hardest hit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far, it's a mess. It's a mess. They're doing not too bad with the roads on the main roads, but the side roads are just horrible.

FIELD: Roadways are covered in snow, making driving downright dangerous. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo closed the Long Island expressway and the state's thruway south of Albany after midnight as a precaution.

(on camera): We're waking up to an almost ear eerie sense of quiet here. That's the Long Island expressway. It's been shut down since midnight. Not a car on it. Of course, you can see the plows are out, they've been out all night.

Long Island officials say that while they were preparing to take on this storm, they kept an eye on what's happened in the past.

STEVE BELLONE, SUFFOLK COUNTY EXECUTIVE: There's one thing we have learned from Superstorm Sandy is that we can never be too prepared.

FIELD: Less than a year ago, the LIE was littered with abandoned vehicles, hundreds of motorists stranded, some spent the night in their cars, others were rescued by firefighters. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was cascading effect. One car went up, got stuck, the rest stayed behind it and kept trying to get around each other and they all got stuck.

FIELD: In New York City, hundreds of salt spreaders and plows were on the streets as the snow started falling.



DE BLASIO: Do solemnly swear --

FIELD: The city's new mayor spent his first working day preparing for his first emergency.

DE BLASIO: It would have been nice to have a nice calm first day but we have snow on our mind. And we are focused like a laser, on protecting the people of the city and getting everyone ready.

FIELD: City schools are closed Friday but mass transit continues to operate while it's safe. The new mayor is hoping to avoid the debacle three years ago when it took weeks to clear some of the city's streets.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER NYC MAYOR: The response to the storm was inadequate and unacceptable and clearly the response to this storm has not met our standards or the standards that New Yorkers have come to expect from us.


FIELD: All right. We're all hoping to see things go a little more smoothly this time around.

If you are just waking up, it isn't over yet. We're expecting to see about a foot of snow in parts of Long Island. And we're about halfway there.

You can see, we're seeing the same kind of snow that they've got out up there in Boston, what Indra was showing us. This really light fluffy snow, very easy to shovel, honestly, John and Michaela, why would you bother? The wind is blowing so much, that's just going to make a mess anybody.

BERMAN: That's what I always say when the wife says go out and shovel the driveway. I say, why even bother? It doesn't work very well.

Alexandra Field, thank you so much.

FIELD: I did my part, I did this one scoop.

BERMAN: Appreciate you being out there.

Thirty-five minutes after the hour. Some parts of Massachusetts are waking up this morning to 21 inches of snow. This powerful winter storm slammed the state with high winds and freezing temperatures.

Joining us now by phone from Cape Cod is Kevin Morley. He is with the Barnstable County Department of Emergency Management.

Kevin, thank you so much for being with us this morning. Give us the latest on the situation out on the Cape.

KEVIN MORLEY, CAPE COD (via telephone): Good morning. Pleasure to be with you.

Over the past three hours, I've seen the temperature dropping a degree an hour and the wind speed increasing by about 9 miles an hour and gusts over 40 now. So, rather than seeing things getting warmer as daylight approaches, we're seeing things get colder.

So, that seems to be our predicament for the next few hours as the storm passes by. And these blizzard-like conditions continue.

BERMAN: And that cold which is dropping, as you said by the hour, is dangerously cold. And it can get in the way of dealing with the situation on the ground, on the roads. Salt doesn't work the way it's supposed to.

Give me a sense of the road situation out on the Cape. A lot of people may know, there's really only one major artery to get to the tip of Cape Cod. Are cars moving, emergency vehicles getting where they need to go?

MORLEY: There's very little traffic. People are, I think, wisely staying indoors. We don't have any reports of -- there are no reports of any traffic problems. It's still early yet. I think as people awake and discover you can't see but a quarter mile, I hope that prudence will outweigh anybody's daring do.

BERMAN: Yes, we can all assure you, there's really no good reason to go outside in this right now. Wait until later when it stops snowing and warms up a little bit.

Our machines, our television equipment is freezing, in some cases not working at all. I hope everyone out there still has power. What's the power situation across the Cape?

MORLEY: Well, I'm knocking on wood as I say it. We've had no reported power outages. We had a short outage in Orleans but that was caused by a front-end loader clearing snow hitting a utility pole.

So, as far as mother nature, she's been kind to us. We are sitting in our warm houses with lights on, as we happened to be up.

BERMAN: Yes, it's a cold kindness.

What's your biggest fear as we look forward, because this won't be over, especially the cold until at least the end of today or tomorrow?

MORLEY: Well, right now, everyone is nervously eyeing the north coast of Cape Cod, because of storm surge and coastal flooding. We are in an astronomically high tide period. We passed through the midnight high tide reportedly with no real problem. But the noon tide around 12:30 on the bay side could pose a problem.

So, in terms of what we're fearing next would be some sort of splash over effect.

BERMAN: All right. Kevin Morley, we'll keep our eyes on that. The noon high tide coming in from the north there. Kevin Morley with the Barnstable County Emergency Management Department, stay warm. Thanks for being with us.

MORLEY: Thank you.

PEREIRA: That's harder to do than it sounds. Normally, I would say it's easy to do. But right now, when those temperatures are dropping well below zero, it is hard. Obviously, we're going to stay with this story today.

You can stay with CNN both online and on the air. Throughout the day, this is our top story but there are other headlines we want to get to. Ana Cabrera is taking a look at those for us.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Michaela. Hi, John. And good morning to you.

Here are a look at the headlines.

The State Department saying the U.S. embassy in South Sudan can no longer provide services to Americans, now that more staff have been ordered to leave. Washington is urging all Americans to get out of South Sudan because of the fighting there between rebel forces and government troops. More than 1,000 people have died and around 200,000 have fled their homes, as this violence seems to be spiraling out of control. Peace talks between the two sides are under way in Ethiopia.

New this morning, the family of Jahi McMath and the children's hospital in Oakland will meet in federal court today. A federal magistrate ordered the settlement conference between the hospital and the family. Jahi was declared brain dead after tonsil surgery and her family is fighting to keep her on a ventilator. A temporary restraining order keeping Jahi on that ventilator is set to expire on Tuesday.

So how did the first day of legal marijuana sales go in Colorado? CNN affiliate KUSA in Denver say pot shop owners as a group believe they did more than $1 million in business on Wednesday, 24 pot shops opened on New Year's Day. Again, this is to sell recreational marijuana. Most of them in the Denver area. But there are applications still pending for many more.

The spectacular explosions and the fire from this train collision in North Dakota sparking a review of transporting crew oil by rail. The NTSB has launched the first broad examination of moving oil by train. This accident just west of Fargo was the fourth such explosion in North America involving crude oil trains. The latest derailment, forcing the evacuation of about 1,000 nearby residents because of the smoke from that burning wreckage.

Another celebrity wardrobe malfunction. This time it was Britney Spears. This is the 32-year-old in the middle of her show. She handled it like a pro. She kept on performing as her costume zipper opened up it just exposed her back during her Las Vegas show at Planet Hollywood.

Luckily, two quick-thinking backup dancers, they jumped into action. They managed her to get zipped back up. And not too much of a problem there.

PEREIRA: That was the only thing holding it all together. It could have been much worse. You can low.


CABRERA: You're embarrassed for her for those moments, right?

PEREIRA: Thanks so much.

BERMAN: Next up on NEW DAY, getting his day in court. The banker who faked his own death and was caught after his elaborate hoax fell apart on New Year's Eve. He faces a judge and his victims in a federal court.

PEREIRA: As you're delving into your bowl this morning, a popular cereal is getting a makeover. It is a healthier one at that. There you got some increased pressure. General Mills makes a change to one of our breakfast favorites.


BERMAM: Welcome back, everyone.

We have new details and new video this morning on that former banker accused of faking his own death to cover up multimillion dollars worth of fraud. Aubrey Lee Price vanished in 2012, reportedly leaving behind a suicide note. He was declared legally dead over a year ago. Police say even his family thought he was dead. The FBI, however, did not buy this.

Here's CNN's David Mattingly.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Missing and legally dead, former Georgia banker, Aubrey Lee Price appeared very much alive leaving federal court. Looking very different than he did when he disappeared a year and a half ago.

Would you have recognized this guy?

WENDY CROSS, FRAUD VICTIM: Every time I see that shot, it doesn't get old, how shocking it is.

MATTINGLY: Wendy Cross is among more than 100 people allegedly defrauded by Price in a $40 million investment scheme. A federal complaint says Price confessed in a 22-page letter that he falsified statements with false returns in order to conceal more than 20 million in investor losses.

CROSS: It was my life savings. So, yes, it was devastating.

MATTINGLY: Cross lost $300,000. It put her food truck business in jeopardy and left her financially ruined, a risk she never suspected she was taking.

CROSS: He was a clean cut, soft spoken guy that seemed extremely professional and, you know, that's how I knew him.

MATTINGLY: In 2012, law enforcement said Price told his family he was going to Latin America, but instead, flew to Key West, bought diving weights and a ferry ticket to make it look like he jumped overboard and drown. Security cameras caught him taking his last steps before he disappeared.

Did you believe he was dead?

CROSS: I never once thought that he was dead.


CROSS: Well, I saw the footage of him on the ferry in Key West and he had a backpack and a suitcase with him.

MATTINGLY: The elaborate hoax fell apart New Year's Eve when Georgia police stopped Price for driving with windows too darkly tinted. On New Year's Day, authorities raided the house price was renting in Marion County, Florida and found a marijuana growing operation with 225 plants. Prosecutors call him a flight risk and ask he remain behind bars without bail.

David Mattingly, CNN, Atlanta.


MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: It's remarkable how different he looks. He really changed his appearance. Yes, really is. We'll be watching that.

Next up on NEW DAY, a change in your Cheerios. Have you even noticed? We're going to tell you what the cereal company is doing differently after consumer groups applied pressure.

BERMAN: Plus, Green Bay fans can't win. Go to Lambeau Field for the playoff game and sit through a wind chill that feels like 40 below or stay home and watch mama's family, because the game's been blacked out because there's no sellout. We'll have more ahead on the "Bleacher Report."


PEREIRA: Welcome back to NEW DAY. New this morning, as you're about to have a bite of cereal, big news from cereal giant, General Mills. The company says it has been manufacturing its original flavored Cheerios without genetically modified organisms or GMOs. General Mills says the process has been going on for the past several weeks. So why the change and did you notice? Chief business correspondent, Christine Romans, is here with more. What was the pressure about?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You didn't notice but you might, because there are going to be some labeling on these packages soon not made with genetically modified organ ingredients, and that's going to be a big change here. And again, this is just the original Cheerios. And here's why: because it's made with oats and oats are not genetically modify. They are not.

But there were some other ingredients that were and they've been looking to source those ingredients specifically cornstarch and the kind of sugar that they use. It was activist groups who have been saying for some time, we don't want GMOs in the food we -- the first thing most little kids ever eat is a Cheerio, right? And so, they are really pushing.

They say that these activists groups think that it's tied to allergies. All these GMOs are prolific. You can barely get food that hasn't been genetically modified and they're concerned about the long- term impact. I should say, the science behind it is very clear. They don't really see a long-term impact of GMOs.

PEREIRA: In terms of their hurdles for the companies that are switching over to this, what are they? I mean, sourcing, too, right?

ROMANS: Cost and sourcing. I mean, you look at something like 70 percent of processed foods have GMO ingredients. Seventy percent of processed food. I mean, GMO ingredients are used to feed our animals so then it goes through the food chain that way. When you look at what's produced on American farms, I think less than one percent is not genetically modified.

And look, corn, corn is the big thing that has been genetically modified. This huge bumper crops of corn because how we have engineered the corn crop. Oats, not so much, and that's why they can do this with these Cheerios.

PEREIRA: Are other companies following suit or you expect more announcements being made?

ROMANS: We've heard from Whole Foods that they want to have labeling. They want consumers to be able to know. Kashi is owned by Kellogg. It's also looking for some GMO free products, but it's a savvy business move, right? I mean, even if there's no science, even if -- even if you -- or the science is unclear yet or we won't know yet what the science of GMO --

PEREIRA: It's about confidence.

ROMANS: If you can label it. Now, one concern of some of the food company has been that if you start seeing GMO-free, people are going to -- consumers are going to assume that is bad and there is so much GMP ingredients and so much -- I mean, every day, we're (INAUDIBLE)

PEREIRA: That's crazy. All right. We'll be watching this. Thank you for bringing this to us.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

PEREIRA: Our Cheerios are changing.

ROMANS: You know, it makes me hungry.


BERMAN: So, were you up late? It was a shocking result in last night's Sugar Bowl. The Sooners rolled the tide handing Alabama their worst lost in the last three seasons. Andy Scholes joins us now with the "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Andy.

PEREIRA: Hey, Andy.

Andy Scholes, bleacher report: Hey. Good morning, guys. You know, Alabama, they had hoped to play for their third straight national title this year, but, Auburn, of course, spoiled those dreams with the miraculous field goal returned for a touchdown. And last night, it definitely looked like the tide had its iron ball hang over. Alabama turned the ball over five times in the game.

Oklahoma, they scored 35 points off those turnovers. And the Sooners, they eventually sealed the victory in the fourth quarter, stripping A.J. McCarron and returning the fumble for a touchdown. You got to check out McCarron's girlfriend, Katherine Webb, in the stand. She was absolutely stunned by this result. Not the way she or McCarron envisioned his college career coming to an end as Alabama, they get beat by the Sooners, 45-31 in the Sugar Bowl.

All right. Trending all over social media and on right now, it's going to be a really cold game on Sunday for the Packers and 49ers. I mean like ice bowl cold. The low temperature for Sunday night in Green Bay is negative 20 degrees with the wind chill somewhere around negative 40. This could actually go down as the coldest game in football history.

That's probably the reason why there is still about 3,000 tickets left for this game. And if they don't sell those 3,000 tickets by five o'clock eastern today, the game's also going to be blacked out in the Green Bay/Milwaukee area. So, Ana, the fans there are going to have to be hunkered down inside on their couches trying to watch stuff on TV then I'm going (ph) to be able to watch this game.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: You feel for them. It's like a lose/lose situation --

SCHOLES: It's a major dilemma. You either go sit in negative degree weather or you don't watch the game at all.

CABRERA: You don't see it at all. Exactly. Radio. We still have one of those. (LAUGHTER)

SCHOLES: There you go.

CABRERA: All right. Andy, thank you.

Next up on NEW DAY, the murder mystery of a beloved parish priest. A suspect is in custody, but the big question is still why? Was it a crime of opportunity or something more?

And of course the breaking news, the nor'easter of 2014 bringing blizzard-like conditions and states of emergency across the east. In fact, we have this just in, JFK airport now closed due to all the snow. We're tracking it all. John and Michaela heading back out into the elements as we speak. Stay with us.



PEREIRA (voice-over): Breaking news. The nor'easter of 2014. This morning, the storm is still at full force.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The wind is crazy out here.

PEREIRA: Howling winds causing whiteout conditions, 100 million Americans now grappling with the mounting snow and freezing cold. The city of Boston almost entirely shut down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the extent possible we're advising people to stay indoors, stay off the roads.

PEREIRA: Nearly two feet of snow in areas and it hasn't stopped yet.

BERMAN (voice-over): Travel chaos, major highways closed, trucks and school buses careening off the roads, thousands of airplanes grounded across the U.S.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Supposed to leave today. Now, I'm trying to find a way to get out of here.

BERMAN: And this is just the beginning. Behind the snow, an epic freeze. It's already started in the Midwest where the wind chills are well below zero, and it's heading east. We're tracking it all this morning.

PEREIRA: Your NEW DAY starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Pereira.