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February 13th, 2014
09:19 PM ET

Massive storm leaves at least 16 dead

At least 16 deaths are being blamed on the massive storm, including a pregnant woman who was killed in New York by a private snow plow as she was loading groceries into her car. Her unborn baby was delivered by C-section and is in critical condition.

More than 600 thousand homes are still without power as snow and ice have knocked down trees and power lines.

Icy runways and poor visibility have led to at least seven thousand flight cancellations, leaving more than a million air travelers stranded by the storm.

Most major cities on the east coast were shut down, but New York city public schools were open and many residents weren't happy about it. Mayor Bill DeBlasio defended his decision claiming it was an unexpected forecast, but that didn't add up to NBC's Al Roker who blasted the mayor on Twitter.

"How dare @NYCMayorsOffice @NYCSchools throw NWS – (the national weather service) under the school bus. Forecast was on time and on the money"

CNN's Zain Asher is in New York with more OutFront.


Filed under: News • Weather
February 12th, 2014
08:54 PM ET

Hundreds of cars stranded in North Carolina

Atlanta (CNN) - Get off the roads, and stay off.

That was the message in Georgia and the Carolinas as a snow and ice storm swept through Wednesday, bringing some of the Southeast's most populous cities to a standstill.

The warnings came as freezing rain brought heavy ice accumulations from Atlanta to Charlotte. Across a large swath of the South, hundreds of thousands of people were without power and thousands of flights were canceled.

Calling ice the biggest enemy, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency. School districts canceled classes and government offices were shuttered in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the traffic paralysis caused by a storm last month.

Up to three-quarters of an inch of ice was expected to accumulate in Atlanta and up to 10 inches of snow and sleet were expected in Raleigh and Charlotte, making travel treacherous.

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Filed under: News • Weather
January 29th, 2014
08:59 PM ET

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed: "We have 80 percent of the city cleared"

The city of Atlanta, one of the largest cities in America, and a major transportation hub has been crippled by a few inches of snow accumulation - less than three inches to be exact.

How it happened is almost too difficult to comprehend.

Georgia, Alabama try to clear vehicle-littered roads as deep freeze pulls in

Thousands of people were trapped in cars for more than 24 hours and hundreds of students stranded on buses and forced to stay overnight in schools. At least two people have been killed in weather related accidents.

Cars were lined up for miles on a major interstate outside of downtown Atlanta - some have been abandoned, others just skidded of the side of the road.

The stories are equally as horrific as the images. Mothers stranded in cars with small children with nothing to eat. Shoppers forced to spend the night in stores, and some just abandoned their cars and walked miles just to get home.

10 winter health myths busted

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told CNN's Erin Burnett that the interstates weren't his responsibility.

"Interstates are the responsibility of the state, not the city," Reed said.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is OutFront.


Filed under: News • Weather
January 22nd, 2014
09:56 PM ET

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio under fire for not plowing "rich" area

Millions of Americans are digging out from the storm that dumped record-breaking piles of snow across the northeast.

But in New York City some residents are turning snow plowing into an issue of class warfare.

The headline last night from the New York Post said: "De Blasio 'getting back at us' by not plowing: Upper East Side residents"

For those less familiar with the upper east side of New York City, it's one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country.

The median household income is more than $240,000 dollars, compared to the median household income across the United States of around $51,000.

So why do the upper east siders think De Blasio is out to get them?

De Blasio did release a statement admitting his administration could have done more to help clean New York's streets.

"After inspecting the area and listening to concerns from residents earlier today, I determined more could have been done to serve the Upper East Side. I have instructed the Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation to double-down on cleanup efforts on the Upper East Side."

OutFront: CNN Political Commentator Reihan Salam and Amanda Seales is a cultural critic.


Filed under: News • Weather
January 22nd, 2014
08:43 PM ET

California drought forces ranchers to say good bye to horses

(Tivy Valley, Calif.) – One by one, Harold Kelly’s family of horses crest the hill, kicking up dust. Their hooves tread over stones and packed dirt . It’s another mild, 70-degree day in central California. In the dead of winter, there’s not a cloud in sight.  And there’s no rain in the forecast.

Fifty horses live on Kelly’s 300-acre pasture outside of Fresno, Calif., an area that is by and large the farming and agricultural hub of the Golden State.  “Every horse out here, I’ve raised – but for the exception of two,” he says. He watches his herd sip from a water trough –  a welcome oasis amid hills coated with brown soil. Usually, the land is lush and green. This year is different. The state is in the midst of a historic dry spell , one declared by California Gov. Jerry Brown as perhaps the worst drought in a century.

“Normally, it’d be raining and we’d have grass growing…the grass is basically all gone,” Kelly says. Simply put, there’s nothing left on the ground for the horses to eat.

It hasn’t rained in Tivy Valley since December 7, 2013. Even then, the area had only received .15inches  of rain fall, according to Paul Jones, cooperative program manager at the National Weather Service. The rainfall total for 2013 was  a scant 3.01 inches. An average year brings 11.5 inches of rain.

These circumstances have forced Kelly to find other ways to keep his horses alive. Every day, he fills his truck with hay purchased through a retailer, and drives into the dry pasture to feed his herd. He gives a loud whistle, and they come running.

“I borrowed money, I hate to even say that. But I recently borrowed money to buy hay,” he says. With hay prices on the rise due to the drought, Kelly spends $800-$1,000 a week on feed – money he doesn’t have.  “I don’t really have much of a choice. That’s the way I look at it.”

“Some of them have dropped off a little bit in weight,” Kelly says, taking a look at a mare whose ribs are beginning to show. “They would be fat if there was rain.”

Central California thrives off the agriculture and livestock industry – fields of vegetables, fruits and tree crops are deteriorating rapidly. The state houses 80,500 farms and ranches, and generates more than $100 billion in economic activity, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. And on the front lines, farmers and ranchers like Kelly are facing heart-wrenching decisions.  “There are a whole lot of people like me. Some of them are hurting worse than I am.”

For Kelly, there’s only one thing he can do. “I hate to get rid of them…but it’s time,” he says.

To this life-long horse trainer and rancher, horses aren’t just a business – it’s lifestyle and family. “Hey, little girl” he says to a chestnut mare who approaches his side. “It’s pretty hard… sometimes you don’t have any choice. You don’t have to be too smart to figure out this is what I need to do.”

“It’s on the verge of very desperate.”

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a drought emergency for the state, calling for voluntary 20% conservation of water use statewide. In today’s State of the State address, Brown underlined the need to cut back. “Right now, it is imperative that we do everything possible to mitigate the effects of the drought. We need everyone in every part of the state to conserve water.  We need regulators to rebalance water rules and enable voluntary transfers of water and we must prepare for forest fires,” Brown said.

The snowpack in the mountains are at 20% below normal levels. Reservoirs are at record lows and the major waterways are significantly reduced. “Among all our uncertainties, weather is one of the most basic. We can’t control it. We can only live with it, and now we have to live with a very serious drought of uncertain duration,” he said.

Farmland residents are desperate for relief from the parched conditions.

Anthony Caglia runs Silver Wings Horse Rescue, dedicated to the rehabilitation and placement of orphaned horses. As Kelly’s neighbor and fellow horseman, he’s promised to do what he can to help, even as he struggles in the face of the drought.

His 60-acre equine ranch is at capacity with thoroughbreds, quarter horses and appaloosas up for adoption.  Since the dry spell hit, calls for help have increased significantly. “Usually, we get a phone call 2-4 times a month….we’re getting them 2-3 times a week now. We’re at capacity, there’s a waiting list.” Like Kelly, he now purchases hay for the rescue horses, and relies on donations to keep his organization running.

“I’ve been in this area all my life, and I’ve never seen it this bad. It was just upon us so fast. Hopefully we can get some rain, get some pasture back in and get some people back to work. It’s on the verge of very desperate,” he says.

“The farmers don’t have anyone working. Nobody has money.” Caglia says. He ventures to say many people consider sending their horses to slaughter. “It’s money for them, they can’t get money otherwise. We like to let the horses live their lives out here. The founding of the ranch was to pay back the horse. The horse is what brought us here today. It took us across the United States, it brought our food in, it plowed our fields, it got us to town and back. It’s a payback to the horse.”

“In a month from now, I won’t have many left.”

Across the street, Kelly has as many as eight horses leaving for new homes in the coming weeks. They’ll be separated and trailered to different parts of the state, near and far. Equestrian Marcee Hansen is one of them. She’s taking a 3-month-old colt off Kelly’s hands to raise in her own.

But not everyone has good intentions. Potential buyers have offered money per pound for each horse, a tell-tale sign of intentions to send the horse to slaughter. “I’d rather borrow money, and feed the horses than see them go to slaughter…I’m not going to let them starve, whatever it takes,” he said.

He expects he’ll adopt-out every single one of his horses, but plays with the idea of keeping just one or two around for company. “I’ve gotten close to them. They become a little bit like kids,” he says. "They become like a person, like a friend you’re saying good bye to.”

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Filed under: Animals • California Drought • News • Weather
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