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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Hurricane Frances: Eye of Storm Lands at Sewalls Point, Florida
Aired September 5, 2004 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone; good morning to some people out there. I'm Catherine Callaway as we continue our live coverage of Hurricane Frances.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Drew Griffin. Catherine and I settling in for the next six hours to help the people of Florida through this storm, and the rest of the nation as we watch this slow- moving Hurricane Frances, a nightmare that just will not go away for the people of Florida.
The eye of the wall came ashore about 9:40 Eastern time, but the storm is moving so slowly, it may be mid- morning yet before the full center of that storm is ashore. The hurricane stalled off Florida's east coast Saturday afternoon.
Some cities will endure hurricane force wind, as we've been watching, and rain for more than 24 hours, bringing with it a lot of problems on its own.
CALLAWAY: Well, the front, eye wall of Frances has now hit land. Let's go right to CNN weather center and talk with our meteorologist, Jacqui Jeras, who has been literally on this story all night long, following the slow-moving storm.
Jacqui, where are we now? We just got an update.
JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we did just get an update. It's still the same in terms of intensity with 105 mile per hour winds. You were talking about the eye wall making landfall. That happened about 8:00 this evening, but now the center of the eye at Sewalls Point --
I think it's Sewall; at first I think I said Sewall -- at Sewalls Point. And that just happened, just in the last couple of minutes, we think. It's a report from the National Hurricane Center.
So the center of the eye, they're saying, is now on shore.
Now, the thing to keep in mind here as the eye is now on shore, if you are in those areas and didn't evacuate yet, now is not the time to go outside and say, hey, what does it look like out here because it in other couple of hours, you are going to get the backside of this storm. And this is where the bad part of the storm is, or the worst part of the storm is. So, initially you are getting hit with those winds coming in and the squalls coming in out of the northwest here, and now they're going to becoming at you from the southeast. So, you're going to see that change in that wind as this pushes on in with the back side of the storm; so that's one thing to think about here is don't get that false sense of security just because you got through the first part of the storm. It could be worse as you get lashed by the back side.
Tornadoes are still possible. We've had a number of warnings for tonight. A couple of reports of touchdowns, but no reports of damage so far from those tornadoes. And this watch will stay in effect until 8:00 in the morning.
The rainfall amounts are starting to total up, and we're getting some reports just offshore, very common between 10 and 12 inches on shore, mostly in this area. We've been seeing reports about three to four inches, but those are going to continue to total up here with rainfall totals anywhere between eight and 12 inches, common throughout some of this watch area. And we could see some isolated amounts up to 20 maybe 25 inches of rainfall.
And we've been talking about that storm surge. Now that, that center is coming in, this is when we see the worse of the storm surge. And that is coordinating with some of the high tides here. A few of them have already taken place but still haven't happened yet, down toward Fort Pierce and then West Palm Beach at 2:10 a.m.
Now, what are we expecting with this storm surge? Where will you have that highest threat? In the red area right here, six to 12 foot storm surge with severe beach erosion and partial inundation of the coast. A moderate threat of where we're expecting the storm surge, south of there, down toward Palm Beach and extending northward up toward Daytona Beach of a four to five foot storm surge.
Also take note. Right here on the northern shore of Lake Okeechobee, we are expecting it to be somewhere between four and six- foot surge. So, it's not just those ocean waterways, this also affects any large bodies of water over land, as well.
Forecast track, right on target, continuing to move over the Florida peninsula, taking its time in doing so. And we'll also likely see a second landfall as it moves over the Gulf of Mexico into the earlier part of next week -- Catherine?
CALLAWAY: Jacqui, we're going to have a live report from Lake Okeechobee in just a moment. But let's get back to the eye of that storm. Is it unusually large and unusually wide?
JERAS: Well, it's actually closed in a little bit. If we could get our VIPIR radar picture up here to take another look at that eye for you, it was, earlier this evening, about 70, maybe 75 miles wide. And that is pretty large for the eye of a hurricane.
And now, it has closed in just a little bit more. It's more like 50 miles wide. But because it is so big and because it is moving so slow, that is why we're seeing such a long, prolonged event here -- Catherine?
GRIFFIN: Jacqui, what can we expect now that the eye is on shore? Is it going to weaken, or is this storm just going to truck on over to the Gulf and stay at its strength?
JERAS: Well, I think it could stay at this strength; it could possibly even still intensify. As long as we have a big chunk of this eye over the water, we could still see this holding its own or possibly strengthening just a little bit over the next couple of hours. But once the whole eye is then on shore, it will dramatically decrease in intensity and probably become a tropical storm tomorrow.
CALLAWAY: But no one...
JERAS: Or today -- I guess it's Sunday already.
CALLAWAY: Yes. We want to keep people informed about the back wall of the eye wall. It certainly is dangerous as the front of that storm, so we don't want people to believe that the worst has passed.
JERAS: That's right, and like I said, as we call it the bad side of the storm. You usually get the worst winds on the north and the east side of the storm, and that hasn't hit yet. So, while things have been just awful all evening long -- there we go -- once this part of the storm moves on shore, we're going to see possibly some of the worst gusts that we've seen just yet.
CALLAWAY: All right, Jacqui, we'll be with you throughout the night. I know your with us until 3:00 a.m. this morning.
GRIFFIN: Yes, and Jacqui mentioned Lake Okeechobee. That is where Ed Lavandera is right now.
Ed, most of the deaths, historically, in hurricanes come in inland flooding, not actually anything along the beach. And I guess that is a concern at Lake Okeechobee.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. And you know and the main cause of that is flooding. And that's why we're here. That's what they're concerned about here at Lake Okeechobee.
It is a large lake but a rather shallow lake. We are told that it doesn't get any deeper than 20 feet, but the National Hurricane Center expecting surges out of this lake of about six feet which could cause problems in many of the communities.
We're on the northern edge of the lake, but there is also kind of around and down to the south side as well where there are a lot of communities as well. Here on the north side in Okeechobee County, there are about 40,000 residents.
We are told that many of them evacuated this area, many low-lying areas, a lot of them trailer homes as well in this area. And, you know, it was -- we drove around just before it became dark here, and it was completely deserted, all of the stores, windows, businesses boarded up. And we did see a lot of people now were seen bunkering down in hotels, which is where we are at right now. And it's been kind of an eerie night. You know it's so dark out right now.
Over the last couple of hours, we've seen the power go out. But you see it kind of in explosions of blue and green light on the horizon, and then the power disappears. And we've seen these kind of explosions several times throughout the night just happening, with the most recent one happening just a short while ago.
And it's so dark here, and you hear the wind howling by you. You hear debris flying all over the place. But what's so eerie about it is that you don't see it, you just hear it clanging through the parking lots where we're at and hitting buildings. So, it's a very dangerous situation.
And of course here the emergency management officials are cautioning everyone that when the time does come, when the eye does begin to pass over this area, they definitely don't want people coming out in into the darkness.
This eye will come over. There is a curfew in place here, but they definitely want people to continue to stay where they are. It's going to be extremely dangerous.
There was already a lot of debris on the roadways. We were driving just before nightfall. And we imagine as the winds have picked up here -- we certainly could feel the brunt of Hurricane Frances -- that the roadways are a much bigger mess now -- Drew?
GRIFFIN: You touched on something Catherine and I were talking about, having both been through these hurricanes. When it's dark like this and the wind is howling, a lot of people are simply in fear right now. They don't know where to turn. They don't have much information.
A lot of them don't have any power. And they can't even hear us or you talk about what's happening. Explain to us that howling wind sound and just tell us how strong the wind is there because I'm assuming you aren't protected area.
LAVANDERA: Yes, we're kind of just beyond -- what I'm looking at is a big wall we've kind of hunkered down behind. But if you kind of step out about 10, 15 feet off here to my left-hand side, you get into the brunt of the wind.
And it's -- I don't want to guess how, exactly how fast the wind is moving here, but it's definitely the fastest, probably the hardest that we've seen all day in this area. And we're seeing pieces of metal just fly across the parking lot, you know, and that's exactly what is so frightening.
You hear this howling wind sound kind of come over the top of the building that we're in right now. And in the darkness, you kind of -- you know, in the back of our minds is, you know, they've warned us about tornadoes and that sort of thing. That's what we have -- that's what we're paying a lot of attention to. In case something like that decides to pop out of the nighttime sky, we want to be aware of that. But at this point, we haven't seen anything like that, but it's definitely something we're very cognizant of.
GRIFFIN: All right, Ed Lavandera hunkered down, Lake Okeechobee, watching for potential flooding there and a storm surge on that inland lake of possibly six feet, incredible.
CALLAWAY: You know, we've continued our rolling coverage throughout the evening. We want to make sure you understand the magnitude of this storm and just how many people it is affecting in Florida. Take a look at that. That is the current picture of Frances.
We know that there are at least two million people out of power right now; 2.8 million people have been evacuated out of Florida. There are some 326 shelters operating there with some 73,000 people waiting all these long hours for this storm to pass. And we have many hours ago.
We know that this storm, it could take another 10 to 12 hours for it to pass, the eye of the storm to move on land and pass through. So, it is going to be a long night. And we'll be here with you.
GRIFFIN: It's been an extremely long night and long day, and another long night for our Anderson Cooper and Chad Myers in Melbourne, Florida. They are standing by now in a protected area, having been chased from an unprotected zone.
Gentlemen, good evening to you, as we watch the overnight.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN "ANDERSON COOPER 360" ANCHOR: And a good night to you.
Yes, we're in a much more protected area. I don't know if you can see it. There is debris still flying just about 20 or 30 feet behind us. That's where we were before.
But in this wind, I mean, even in an unobvious object can become a deadly weapon.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I would call it a semi-protected area. I mean I don't think there's anything -- if you're outside, there's nothing that's really protected because the winds are swirling.
The rain turns into mist. You know it's not really even a raindrop, it's just the wind is blowing so hard.
I can't believe these trees are holding up like they are. It's amazing what a palm tree can go through. These winds have been 85 and 95 miles per hour now for an hour. And all palms are still up.
COOPER: And all day long, I mean these trees have been bending and bending. They haven't had time to come back. They've just been bending down toward the ground, and yet we haven't seen too many of them snapping around here.
MYERS: Not at all.
And you know, I was noticing a little bit ago, too, the power flashes that we were seeing, they're starting to slow down if not stop altogether, which pretty much means there are no more transformers that have power to flash.
When a line comes off a transformer, or maybe a line stops from another transformer, you get this eerie blue-green flash. It's not lightening. You can tell. It's the wrong color for lightening. And, you know, just something I've been...
COOPER: It comes up like a very big flare going up...
COOPER: ... in a combat zone.
I want to just remind viewers, if you haven't been following the storm along with us the last couple of hours, where we are in relation to the eye. We are in Melbourne, which is north of where the eye is, just a little bit north of the northern part of the eye wall.
MYERS: Right, which is actually one of the good parts to be in. If you're in the eye right now, there's nothing going on. It's pretty much calm.
It never really just goes to zero unless you're right smack dab in the center of it. But we are the north side of the eye wall. The storm is moving this way, and it is sitting this way.
So you have to add those numbers together, westward movement of five, and then the 95 or 105, whatever it might be. Those, I think those winds are about 20 miles from us. We are in the second eye wall, right now.
You can sense this eye wall almost like three doughnuts in a row, around and around and around is how it actually got before we got it online, and tried mixing it up a little bit. But obviously the wind's we have now, we've had over 100, at least.
COOPER: The last report we had, probably about an hour old now, of one injury, a person injured. It was a wind-related injury. You can certainly understand how someone could injured in the wind. You have all this debris flying around.
MYERS: And you know what, even though -- we're really close to the ocean here at least the bay. But that's the good news because there's nothing being picked up in the bay. But all of this stuff is being picked up -- it's a pretty good building, but it's not holding up.
And all of this stuff is blowing somewhere else. And the closer you get downwind and the farther you get downwind, the more and more debris is in the air. And you're hearing what Ed Lavandera say, it's eerie because you hear it, but you have no idea where it's coming from.
And if we didn't have lights on, you wouldn't even see where this is coming from.
COOPER: And I don't know if you can just see that sky behind us lighting up, that blue light that Chad was talking about, that's the transformers blowing. It's amazing to think that some people still have electricity and that there is still some lines that could blow out.
MYERS: Yes, (unintelligible) people who have power until that spot right there. And sometimes switches can get power back to people, but at some point it could be awhile.
COOPER: (Unintelligible) crews are out trying to restore power to an area. Obviously, there are no crews out, at this point. And we have not even seen any police personnel or any emergency personnel in the last couple of hours. Everyone is pretty much hunkered down.
MYERS: I don't think the roads are passable. I mean, they have so many trees. They said that -- they just told me from CNN in Atlanta, you can go back, at 2:00 you can go home?
Go home where? I'm not driving back to the hotel, that's for sure because the power lines, as you know, there are power poles in the street, a lot of debris in the street; and there is a lot of debris flying. You're not going to be out there one way or the other. And the police shouldn't be out there either.
COOPER: And we know police have been getting some calls from people who have either hunkered down in their homes, decided they weren't going to try to seek safety. Then, now they're starting to get really scared. You know, they're hearing all these noises. They don't have electricity. They may not even have a radio, and they, you know, suddenly call the police. And they say, look, you've got to stay where you are. This is not the time to move.
MYERS: And they made that perfectly clear to us when at 5:00, we went over a tall, causeway bridge. The winds down here were about 55. I always knew, you know, because of me being a meteorologist that the winds are higher in a hurricane. But I really wanted to see for myself.
This causeway is about 300 feet off the water. And I got up to the top, and the winds up there were 81, so 25 miles per hour higher up there than down here.
COOPER: One of the things that has been confusing me is that for awhile the wind is coming -- the rain was coming straight across, but a little bit ago, I saw rain coming up from the ground up.
GRIFFIN: Anderson and Chad? Anderson?
GRIFFIN: I hate to break this up, guys; but your audio -- it sounds like you have a little water in the line. We're having a little trouble.
GRIFFIN: So you might want to just take a quick break. And we want to get back to because you have one of our better shots, but it sounds like you do have water in the line. So, we'll be right back.
COOPER: All right. We'll try to work it out.
MYERS: Fair enough.
CALLAWAY: Some of the strongest winds that we have seen over the last few hours have been in Fort Pierce, Florida, and that's where our national correspondent Gary Tuchman has been throughout the day and the evening.
He's joining us now by videophone. Gary, what's the situation?
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Catherine, the technology has been very challenging because of the winds that we've had here in Fort Pierce as we are on the north side of the eye wall.
And the winds, 15 minutes ago we talked to police, were sustained at 95 miles per hour. They're very concerned. I have a hood on, but I can hear you. I have an earphone under the hood. It's the only way I can hear you.
They're very concerned because they've gotten so many phone calls from St. Lucie County residents, who in the last few hours realize they should have been in the shelters with the 5,000 other St. Lucie County residents who are in shelters.
They've been told that they can do anything at this point. It's too risky to go out and rescue people. They told people who are scared to get your house, get as many walls as you can. Stay away from glass, but there is nothing we can do. You just had two days to go to shelters. You can't make it to shelters now.
CALLAWAY: Gary, we're...
TUCHMAN: This is the most intense wind that we've had over the last three -- can you still hear me?
CALLAWAY: Yes, we can hear you, but maybe you...
TUCHMAN: OK, good.
CALLAWAY: ... could get behind a wall in some area, it might help us. We're...
TUCHMAN: This is actually a good place for us to be. We've made sure -- believe it or not, it may not seem that way, but we've made sure we're in a safe place behind between two strong buildings.
This really gives you very good idea of the strength of a hurricane, 95 miles per hour sustained gusts. The officials are telling me that gusts of up to 110 miles per hour over the last hour period.
And we're right next to the Intercoastal Waterway, here in Fort Pierce, Florida, and a half a mile away from the Atlantic Ocean. The barrier island nearby is Hutchison Island, which was totally evacuated two days ago.
They hope nobody is still there. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and there's been a lot of damage. We took a ride there a few hours ago. One restaurant (unintelligible). Several homes and businesses have lost their roofs.
Here in Fort Pierce, about a half a mile from where I'm standing, the K-mart, or part of it is now flooding from the rain going in. So there was extensive damage down in Central Florida. There's no doubt about this because power, as you know, even before the hurricane (unintelligible).
It really is a very tough night in this part of Florida.
CALLAWAY: Gary, it is still very difficult to understand you. We know you say there is 90 mile per hour winds gusting there. We understand that you said people are now calling for help but authorities are unable to go and help them at this point.
TUCHMAN: (Unintelligible). Can you hear me now with the microphone?
CALLAWAY: We can hear you, Gary.
CALLAWAY: All right, Gary. We're going to come with you in just a moment. Amazing that you were actually able to stand up in that. Stay safe. That's Gary Tuchman in Fort Pierce where the winds are obviously some of the strongest that we've seen over the last few hours.
GRIFFIN: As low as this has been to come ashore, I think our reporters on the seen are now seeing the brunt of the storm. In fact, the National Hurricane Center says the actual crossing of the eye officially was at 1:00 -- that was 20 minutes ago -- at Sewalls Point with 105 mile per hour winds.
Our John Zarrella, riding out the storm in West Palm Beach, joins us now by phone.
John, what is the situation in West Palm?
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Drew, you're absolutely right with the hurricane center saying the center making landfall. We're on the south side, we believe, of the center, and it has gotten so intense here that within the last 30 minutes we were forced to bring the dish on the satellite truck down. It just became much too dangerous.
The wind shifted direction on us. Throughout the night, the wind had been coming from the west to the east, again meaning that we were on the south side of the storm.
Now, in last half an hour, the winds have shifted directions. And all of the palm trees that where blowing one direction are now completely blowing from the south to the north.
And we are seeing repeated flashes of blue-green light, the electrical light transformers exploding, arcing in the distance all around us here in Palm Beach, in the West Palm Beach area.
The wind is literally whipping the rain from the pavement and again, certainly sustained hurricane force winds here now, probably not with Gary is seeing up the road about 50 miles from us, but because of the enormously large circulation of the storm, it became very, very dangerous here within the last 30 minutes, Drew.
And water rising, a lot of flooding in the streets and in the parking lots. I'm trying to stand out a little bit into it to give you somewhat of a sense on the phone of what it's like here, but to the point where -- you pretty much can't stand up with it any longer out here.
And when it gets to that level, it's fairly significant winds, certainly hurricane force -- Drew?
CALLAWAY: John, this is Catherine. I want to ask you a question. You've been living in Florida for a number of years. You've covered so many hurricanes there. Have you ever seen one move this slowly? And what are your thoughts on this storm in particular?
ZARRELLA: Never ever, and I've been covering them for about, since 1979 when I covered my first couple of hurricanes, Frederick and David; and I have never seen one move this slowly.
They all get in and out pretty quickly. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was moving across the coastline at 20 miles-an-hour, so it basically hit the Florida east, Florida coastline at 5:00 in the morning. And by later that afternoon, it had crossed the peninsula and was back out into the Gulf of Mexico.
And every other hurricane that I've seen over the years has moved at far brisker pace than this one. This has just been -- my thoughts would be an absolutely relentless pounding, hour after hour after hour.
And I guess, you know, if there's a saving grace to all of this, we can think back 36 hours to when this hurricane was a category four. And if you had taken that category four hurricane with 140 or 145 mile-an-hour winds and brought in across the coastline of Florida at five miles-an-hour, the devastation would have absolutely been incalculable. It's bad enough as it is here, right now. What we've seen, at least from our little vantage point that we have, is just, you know, trees down, signs down, the wind just whipping around the buildings.
We haven't seen any structural damage where we are, not to say that there isn't any in the Palm Beach area, but again I think that the saving grace to all this is, as bad as it is, is that this thing downgraded itself...
GRIFFIN: OK, John.
ZARRELLA: ... to a category two.
GRIFFIN: Spoken just like a Floridian looking for the sunny, silver lining in all of this. We'll get back to you, much more.
Jacqui Jeras ahead right after this.
CALLAWAY: Welcome back, everyone, as we continue our coverage of Hurricane Frances bearing down on the state of Florida right now. Our Jacqui Jeras is in the weather center, has been following this storm throughout the evening and now into the early morning hours.
Jacqui, incredibly slow-moving storm, as we just heard John Zarrella talking about is, what is making this storm so hard to bear for all the residents there, this has been going on for hours now.
JERAS: Yes, it really has. And it took about a good five hours from the eye wall until we got to the center of the eye to make it's way onshore. And so, we might expect maybe equally that much before we get to the back side of the storm where the bad side is.
Well you just heard John talking about how his winds have shifted, and I'm going to draw on the telestrator here and help explain why his winds have shifted.
Here is the eye of the hurricane right here, the whole big eye. And it's moving up to the west-northwest. So, we'll kind of divide it there into the center.
His winds were initially moving in from the west, but now because the storm, most of the first half, has moved onshore. They're starting to come in from the south.
The winds rotate counter-clockwise around this storm system, so now you're starting to get into this part of the storm, and that's why his winds have shifted from the northwest, west down to the south.
And so, your winds on the first side of the storm are going to be coming in this way. And when you get on that back side of the storm, they're going to the pulling at you from the south and to the West. So you get that change.
And this is the real bad part of the storm. It's really the northern and eastern sections of the storm where the worst of the winds are. And so, where Gary Tuchman is, right here in Fort Pierce, this is going to be some of the heaviest of rain and some of the worst of the winds coming in just within the next couple of hours, just pounding on Gary.
And it's going to take awhile. It may or may not get the actual part of this eye over Fort Pierce. And he may be in one of those locations where he is just going to be stuck in the eye wall of this thing for just hours and hours and hours. And that's when we're going to start to see some of that heavy rain come in on the back side of this as well - Catherine?
GRIFFIN: So in terms of the strength, the sheer strength of the winds, the worst is yet to come?
JERAS: Yes, the worst is yet to come. Absolutely, Drew.
CALLAWAY: Let's bring in John Zarrella. John, are you there? He's in West Palm Beach. We understand that he is in a safe place. We were able to understand him. We certainly were not able to hear Gary Tuchman. The winds were so strong in Fort Pierce. But do we have John?
John, can you hear us?
ZARRELLA: Yes, I'm here. I'm here.
CALLAWAY: Do you have anything you would like to...
ZARRELLA: Yes, I was listening to Jacqui, and I think we're probably in that same boat that Gary may be in, that we're in that eye wall quadrant, that we're not going to see a break in this weather.
And it is significantly worse with every few minutes here, that it has been all night. Literally within the last 45 minutes or so, the conditions, as they say, have deteriorated considerably here.
And, you know, the palm trees and everything are just bending. And the wind is just howling, howling through here now.
When you start to hear a howl and just start to swirl around in every direction, it's pretty bad; and that's what we're into now.
A lot of the water is really starting to come up through the drains. It just can't handle it anymore. And the streets are flooding here. And we're right along the Intercoastal, so...
ZARRELLA: So some significant water and flooding, and again the worst of the winds that we've seen so far. And it certainly was a little bit disconcerting to hear Jacqui saying it may get worse yet.
GRIFFIN: Jacqui, that surprises me just a wee bit because it looks like John should be on the downside of this storm. Should he be seeing weaker winds than Gary should be seeing at the top? JERAS: John will start to be seeing weaker winds here shortly, but if you take a look at that radar picture, if we could look at that, yes, you can see right now he's right in the middle of this burst.
We can get these bursts of convection right within the eye wall. But if we could zoom this back out and show you where Fort Pierce is, see what I was trying to explain is that Gary is on the farther side of this storm; and so this is going to continue to come in this way where you get a little bit more acceleration with the forward speed of the storm.
So your winds are going to be stronger up into this part than it's going to be down here. And you can see how a lot of this part of the storm in terms of the convection on the west side has fallen apart a little bit more. This is where were seeing those brighter returns.
So that shows you at home that, that's where we're starting to see some of those stronger areas, but that first down in Palm Beach, West Palm Beach area coming through right now we'll see these pieces of energy kind coming on through.
CALLAWAY: Where are you, John? Can you describe to us where you are?
ZARRELLA: Yes, well, we're literally on the mainland side of Palm Beach. We're probably about 50 yards from the Intercoastal, from Lake Wood. I look straight through, into Palm Beach.
On the other side, you can see the Breakers hotel, so we're basically right in downtown Palm Beach, just east of -- just to the west of, to the east of downtown Palm Beach, right along the Intercoastal is where we're standing.
GRIFFIN: And Jacqui, can you give us any indication that has been any change in the speed or the direction of this storm just since 1:00 when we had our last update?
You're watching live radar.
JERAS: Right. It doesn't appear. I haven't seen any big changes in speed or intensity really, but, you know, it's really hard to tell when you're just looking at this by the radar picture. There are a lot of different things that you need to look at.
I suppose there's still the potential for a little bit of strengthening yet until we get this whole eye onshore. So, it's still going to be a possibility.
The speed has picked up. You know the 1:00 advisory brought in the forward speed up to seven miles per hour. And we will be seeing this thing mostly stalled throughout much of the afternoon and early evening hours, or at best moving at maybe four miles per hour.
So, now that we're seeing a number higher than five, that were getting up to seven, we're hoping this thing maybe could pick up a little bit of forward speed. We're just going to have to wait and see. It's just, overall, been a slow mover with no huge major steering strong winds at this time.
CALLAWAY: But John, certainly the concern down there, the intensity of the winds, but over a long period of time is just as bad as if the winds were stronger. This combined with the continued rainfall...
GRIFFIN: Yes, structural fatigue on a lot of things.
ZARRELLA: Yes, you know, I think overall what you're having here is -- certainly it's not like 145 mile-an-hour, catastrophic winds that are going to knock down buildings and destroy things, but over the long haul, where you have hour after hour of this, things do tend to weaken.
Structures weaken as opposed to a storm that moves through more quickly and, you know, as Jacqui has been pointing out all night, the tremendous amount of rainfall that we have.
And, you know, we've got it here again right now, just a tremendous amount of rainfall pouring in, and the water continuing to flood up into this parking lot. We're standing under, in a condominium building to give you an idea of where we're --
It's a concrete block structure, so we're certainly OK here, but as soon as you step out into the elements, it's another story. But yes, that repeated pounding hour after hour is certainly going to be unnerving to lots of people just wanting to, you know, hoping and waiting for this thing to finally get through here.
And, you know, we've been under the gun here since, I say, about 6:00 tonight when it started to deteriorate, and now -- really the worst of it now. Earlier this evening, we could certainly go out and stand up in it and you weren't too concerned about your own safety out there, whereas now there's -- we couldn't even bring the satellite dish. We had to bring it down because the winds have gotten so heavy through this area right now.
CALLAWAY: Jacqui, for people that are watching this that are, say in California or someplace that really don't follow the hurricanes that much in Florida as those of us do in the media and John, who lives in Florida, compare this storm for us to, say this last one that moved through, Charley.
This one is so much wider...
CALLAWAY: It takes up so much of the state that even Orlando is going to have trouble with flooding. This is going to reach all the way through the state.
JERAS: Right, it's about twice the size of Charley from side to side of the storm, so overall this is very big. In fact, even earlier today, even beyond Florida we were seeing some of these tropical moisture bands started to move into part of South Georgia, even into South Carolina. So this is affecting millions and millions of people.
While Charley did affect a lot of people, the brunt of the storm happened, relatively speaking, in the very localized area. And this storm, you know, we talk so much about landfall, it just doesn't matter.
We're talking about from, you know, a huge area from the time these first bands came on through, these battering winds. We're going to get the back side of the storm yet. We're talking about 24 hours easily that Central Florida is getting pounded by this storm.
So, you know, at category two, category four you're going to get slightly different things. But which is worse, getting 145 mile per hour winds blowing through very quickly, or getting maybe 60, 80, 90, 100 mile per hour winds consistently over four to six hours?
CALLAWAY: All right, Jacqui. I know you'll be with us for several hours. Now we want to thank John Zarrella there battling the elements in West Palm. And we'll be back with him in just a moment.
GRIFFIN: Yes, and to tell you how big this storm is, and for the people in California who aren't aware of this, this morning we had Jeb Bush on, the governor of Florida, they're ready with a million meals a day.
Six hundred water trucks waiting to come down here, 2.5 million people evacuated. I mean, we're talking about people in the millions.
GRIFFIN: This is a big, big time event. And it's going to be for many days and weeks, and even months to come, perhaps, as we watch this go through.
Anderson Cooper is going to join us live when we come back as Hurricane Frances coverage continues here on CNN.
GRIFFIN: You are watching live coverage of Hurricane Frances. That's a live shot from Melbourne, Florida, the official crossing of this eye for the National Hurricane Center.
Thirty-nine minutes ago a very slow-moving, much anticipated and now stubborn storm will just not leave Florida alone.
CALLAWAY: I really feel for these 73,000 people, more than that actually, in the -- there's some 300 shelters in place there in Florida. Some of these people have been in these shelters since Wednesday.
Very long, very slow-moving storm. We have Chad Myers and Anderson Cooper, who have been with us throughout the evening and morning now.
GRIFFIN: Good morning, gentlemen.
The bad news from Jacqui Jeras is I don't think you guys are going to see a break, period. This is just going to be what you're going to have to suffer through.
COOPER: Yes, we've been anticipating that. I mean, Chad, you've been saying all along that since we're on the northern part of this eye wall, we're not going to have any let up.
MYERS: We don't get the eye at all. We don't get the center part of the eye, which is the calm part of the storm, or relatively much calmer than the eye wall itself, which is the brighter of the oranges as you look at it on the radar.
The oranges and the reds, as they get farther and farther out, the wind speeds go down and down and down. And then all of a sudden, all the way down to the middle where these storms are around the eye wall, where the colors are, that's where the worst part of the storm is.
And then when there's no color, where the storm is actually empty, if you will, that's when things obviously calm down.
COOPER: So, these sustained winds that we're seeing now, I mean, these very high, deadly winds, that is just going to continue until when? Until, you know, I mean because everyone's sort of tracking when does the eastern edge of the eye wall come. That doesn't really matter for us.
MYERS: Well, that's a good question though, because I've been looking at my barometer. I brought one with me here. And we're now 2926. And we were lower than that. We were at about 990 millibars. Now we're up to 992, which means something for us, which at least means that maybe the lowest pressure, the lowest part or the closest approach to the eye wall center, the eye center, has already gone by.
So, as our pressure starts to come back up, maybe that means that we're actually starting to get back to a better situation, although from the looks of the winds, you sure can't tell.
COOPER: And you're thinking still, I mean, before you had talked about possibly 4:00 a.m. as sort of being the height of the winds for us. Do you still think that's true?
MYERS: I think so. You know, the problem is inside the eye wall, there are little convective cells, as well. It's not just one, big rain band. And some of the rain band, some of the cells are little bit stronger than the others.
So is one cell mixes down, as we call it -- rain goes up and down, the winds go up and down -- as that wind mixes down, it'll come up and down. It just depends on where we are on that little eye wall cycle. COOPER: For those of you who are watching at home, you have the luxury of seeing this on TV. It is so scary for the people who are here, who have no electricity, who have no television, who are in their homes, in their bathrooms, some even in their closets.
I spoke to one family back in Hurricane Charley a couple weeks ago. They spent all of Hurricane Charley, five people, in their closet. You know, for kids, it is a very frightening event.
MYERS: Yes, actually, we were listening -- I was listening to some folks on the radio talking about how you should talk to your children. Say, you know what, bad things happen, but you know what? We're going to get through this. It's going to be OK. And tomorrow we'll wake up and we'll go outside.
That's what's happening. This building is literally coming apart.
COOPER: I like that I flinched and you didn't
MYERS: I worked in an auto shop one day, so you hear the guns going off and the little wrenches, you're here, you don't even worry about those noises anymore.
COOPER: What were seeing, if you didn't see that on camera, what we're seeing is just a lot of this roofing material, which is on the roofs all around here, just flying around.
COOPER: It is very sharp on the edges. It's actually why we've moved to this more secure location because we basically just don't want to be out in the winds because in this darkness you just don't know. You just don't see anything coming toward you.
MYERS: Yes, there's just too much in the wind right now. And you know, I was thinking about it as they were talking about the shelters. We're in a hotel now, right? I mean, we have a room, but it's far away. But we're probably not going to get there tonight. There are so many families in that hotel, as well.
MYERS: Sometimes eight and 10 people in one room. Their pets are with them, you know, and they don't know what to do. They're in a strange environment.
GRIFFIN: Anderson and Chad.
GRIFFIN: The thing that you touched on, the fear, I don't think anybody, even those who have gone through the biggies, Hugo and Andrew, have never been through it this long.
COOPER: Yes. MYERS: Yes.
GRIFFIN: I mean usually it's four or five hours, and then it's done. But this...
GRIFFIN: This is got to be a...
COOPER: You also just don't know what's happening, you know, to your neighbor, to the house down the block. You have no sense, really, of what's going on around you.
You know, we've been making calls trying to talk to local hospitals, talk to authorities, but for, you know, most people just don't have access to that. They are just sitting there sort of in a vacuum of information.
MYERS: And they're in the dark. You know, this didn't happen during the daytime. It happened at night.
CALLAWAY: Hey, Chad.
MYERS: Hopefully they are boarded up.
CALLAWAY: Chad, the sound of this wind, you know, it's a howling sound. And it has to be maddening for these people who have no way, no contact with the outside world and this is just going on for such a long time and such a loud storm.
MYERS: Well, you know, I grew up in Nebraska, and we had tornado warnings. And there was always an all clear. Tornado warnings go off; 35 minutes later, there's an all clear. You get out, you know, you get out of your basement, everything's fine.
This has just been going on and on and on.
COOPER: We haven't seen as much flooding in this area or as much rain in this area as, at least, I had anticipated.
MYERS: Well, this storm did slow down a lot. And a lot of the rain cores are a little bit farther to our south. We had a few cells, but not like, nowhere near the 16 inches that some of the predictions were.
But I'm sure that there are a lot more numbers like sixes and eights -- and Jacqui Jeras can tell us more -- maybe a little bit farther down to the south of us.
CALLAWAY: Yes, we're going to bring Jacqui in now, in fact. But Anderson and Chad, since you can't go anywhere we thought you might get...
JERAS: Yes, hold on.
CALLAWAY: Since you can't go anywhere. JERAS: Hey guys, how hard is the rain coming down there right now? Is it pretty light?
MYERS: You know, it turned in -- it's turned into mist now. The wind is so strong, that there aren't rain jobs anymore. It literally has just turned into a spray.
COOPER: There was a time there for a while, though, where the rain seemed to be coming up from the ground. I mean it seemed. You called it confused.
MYERS: Yes, it's a confused rain. When it hits a building, the rain goes up, the rain goes down, and it just kind of scatters. It doesn't go in one direction. It just looks like, well it looks like it's confused. That's the technical term for it.
JERAS: Well, if you haven't seen a lot of rain yet, hold on because some of these heavier bands are slowly making their way. It doesn't look like, though, good news for you guys, that the eye wall is going to quite make it in your area. But you are going to be getting some of these very intense outer bands pushing on in.
The storm itself is pushing up to the north and to the west about seven miles per hour. So, a couple hours from now, you're going to start to see some of these really heavy rain bands come in. You're going to start to watch those winds gust up just again.
So even though you're misting right now, hold on a couple hours, guys because that real heavy rain is on its way.
COOPER: Jacqui, do you have a sense of at what point -- I mean Chad was saying from his (UNINTELLIGIBLE) maybe 4:00 a.m. would probably be the worst of the storm for us. Does that seem right to you for where you are?
JERAS: Yes, I think that's real reasonable. I say in the next two hours, maybe you'll start to get the edge of the heavier bands in, and that's going to be pretty persistent. That's going to last. It could last maybe a good six plus hours of these very heavy downpours.
CALLAWAY: Let's -- Chad, we have some questions for you.
MYERS: Sure, go ahead.
CALLAWAY: People are sending us e-mails from all across country, including this one from California, from Joe, who says he keeps hearing this term surge that you and Jacqui have talked about throughout the evening.
He wants to know exactly what is it, and what exactly happened to create surge conditions during the hurricane? MYERS: There's a -- a low pressure. That's what we call a hurricane. It's a low pressure, and this one is pretty low. It's 960 millibars, about 29 on your barometer, a little bit lower than that, at times.
That sucks air in. And that air that's being sucked into the hurricane actually sucks water in as well. And there is a bubble of water, a bubble of water under the hurricane.
And it might only be two feet high, but as this bubble goes over land. The shallow part of the continental shelf rises up, rises up, rises up, and so does that bubble of water. And that bubble of water is the storm surge.
And when that happens at the same time of a high tide, that's when you really double the effect of a storm surge.
GRIFFIN: OK. Another...
MYERS: Anything else?
GRIFFIN: Jacqui, you still with us?
MYERS: All right.
JERAS: Yes, and that's pretty much what's happening. Right now, actually a lot of the high tides have been happening in this area from midnight until the 2:00 a.m. hour. So, we're still kind of getting in it.
If we could go back to our weather computer stores GR115, I want to show you what you could expect when we talk about this storm surge, just how bad it's going to be and what kind of an impact that it has.
The red areas here, and that does include Melbourne, where Chad and Anderson are, a very high threat of seeing a significant storm surge of six to 12 feet. I think that 12 is going to be a little bit on the high end. It's going to be more like maybe six to eight feet storm surges.
And that's above normal tide. And that is going to cause some severe beach erosion and partial inundation of the coastal areas. Now, a moderate threat a little bit farther on down to the south here into Palm Beach -- and that's where John Zarrella is -- and then it's getting northward from this area around Daytona Beach.
And you can expect there a four to five foot storm surge, major beach erosion. And some of the near shore roads are going to be washed out. And the other thing to keep in mind, too, when we talk about this storm surge, we talk about oceans, ocean waves that are coming on up.
Well, don't forget that large bodies of water over land also have the same phenomenon happen, and so we are expecting to see maybe five, six foot storm surge on the north side of Lake Okeechobee.
GRIFFIN: All right. This is turning into a late-night weather class, actually.
MYERS: That's right.
GRIFFIN: But we do have another e-mail, guys. And it's a good question. It's from Jenny. She's in Pensacola, would like to know if Frances will feed off any of the bodies of water inside the state. I am assuming that's Lake Okeechobee she's talking about.
And also, "I am in Pensacola," she says, "should we be preparing for Frances?"
MYERS: Jacqui, go ahead and take the Pensacola part.
JERAS: OK. All right.
I'm not sure if I've got the forecast track yet up on my computer. It will take me a second get that to you. But yes, if you live in the Florida panhandle, you do need to be concerned from about Pensacola everywhere on eastern -- eastward -- you're under that tropical storm advisory. So you do -- expect to see those winds.
We're going to have a second landfall with this thing. As it moves across the Florida peninsula, we're going to see it come on out into the Gulf, once again.
I don't expect it to intensify too much as it goes back over the open water, so it will probably still stay in a tropical storm strength. But you're going to see little bit of surge there. You're going to see those strong winds anywhere, you know, between 40 and maybe 60, 70 miles an hour.
MYERS: The same thing happened with Andrew, as well. Remember Andrew went across South Florida, and then it kept going back into the Gulf of Mexico, Jacqui, and then made that big, hard right turn.
This isn't going to be as strong as Andrew because it has a much longer part of Florida to go over, but the answer to the question about the water, the lakes in Florida, do they matter? Yes, they do, and, in fact, especially that southern part of Florida where the Everglades are.
As Andrew went across the Everglades, it didn't slow down at all. I mean, the wind speeds may have went down 15 or 20 miles per hour, but it exited the side of that state with just as much power as it had when it came over and right through Homestead.
CALLAWAY: And it is good news that it's taking the long path, I guess, through the state.
CALLAWAY: Should it hit, run across over into the Gulf and hit that nice, warm water, then it would be bad news for the Gulf of Mexico.
JERAS: Absolutely, and I do have this graphic to show you. This is actually the forecast wind speed graphic. But just to give you an idea, we're going to show you here what the intensity is as the forecast moves across.
And take a look at some of these timestamps as it moves through. That's 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning here, just about six hours from now. And you can see how it dramatically weakens as it stays over the land and then back over the open Gulf waters, very briefly making a second landfall somewhere to the east of the Tallahassee area and then heading on up into Alabama.
It may even be ending up perhaps as far west as Mississippi. But right now it looks like probably into Alabama as a tropical depression and then moving on up into the Tennessee Valley.
So, even once this does get back over land, once again, over the Florida panhandle, we're still talking days and days that Frances is going to be affecting the southeastern United States.
GRIFFIN: OK, one more e-mail, guys, and then I promise we'll move on with things. But can two hurricanes run into each other, and what would happen? That's from Jessica.
CALLAWAY: Fujiwara, Chad, go.
JERAS: Chad, you go first.
MYERS: Yes, go to your sushi shop and ask for a Fujiwara to go.
It's actually when two storms, because they're spinning in the same direction, they can't really get together, per se. You've all seen the movie or at least heard about it, "The Perfect Storm." That' was a different situation when a cold core, northern latitude storm was moved into a tropical light system; as that moved together, those storm systems did combine.
But if you see what we call Fujiwara, you have one hurricane here, you have another hurricane here, they actually will spin around each other. And this happens in the Pacific a lot more than it happens in the Atlantic because we just don't get the number of hurricanes to do this.
But one storm will go around, and it will go around, it will go around, and it will just keep going around until obviously one hits land or the other one hits land. So, typically they will not go together.
CALLAWAY: We are not just getting questions, gentlemen. I just want to say that we are getting a lot of comments on what a terrific job that you both are doing out there. And I know we all appreciate...
COOPER: We're all ready to on back in.
CALLAWAY: We all appreciate all of your hard work and long hours that you are putting in.
COOPER: I actually have one question for you or for Jacqui. Are we still in tornado warning? I mean, is that still a fly?
MYERS: I think the warnings have expired, Jacqui, right? But is the watch still going?
JERAS: Yes, right now we don't have any warnings, but yes the watch is still in effect. That goes until 8:00 in the morning for tomorrow. We could possibly see that extended, of course.
Yes, tornadoes very common in hurricanes. But I think we've only had one ground, though.
MYERS: Typically small, though.
JERAS: Yes, very weak.
MYERS: They are typically small tornadoes. They're not F-4s.
JERAS: No, F-0, F-1. We've been seeing very weak sheer, you know, maybe 80 mile-an-hour winds in some of these radar indicated tornadoes.
COOPER: Why is it that tornadoes, I mean why are tornadoes spinning off of hurricanes?
MYERS: Well, you have big storms on the cells themselves. And as they're on the outer fingers.
JERAS: Can I get the VIPIR behind me please?
MYERS: On the outer fingers of this thing, as the fingers go by, they hit land. and land is actually a piece of friction.
GRIFFIN: OK, guys, listen, we have to go to break.
Chad, class is over for right this second.
COOPER: Oh, no. All right, well he's going to continue teaching me.
GRIFFIN: Anderson, hold his hands in place.
We're going to have Ed Lavandera on the way back. He's in Lake Okeechobee.
We'll be right back.
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