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CNN10 2021-02-18

CNN 10

One-Two Punch Of Deadly Winter Weather Rakes Across The U.S.; Mysterious Craters Appear In Siberia; How Researchers Get VR Footage Of The Sea

Aired February 18, 2021 - 04:00:00 ET


CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Carl Azuz. Thank you for taking 10 minutes to watch our show. Major winter storm strikes America hitting states like Texas especially hard. If that sounds familiar, it's because the country is weathering back-to-back winter systems and that's put about 125 million Americans, more than a 1/3 of the U.S. population under some sort of weather alert.

Most of these warnings stretch from Texas to New England though winter weather has effected states from Washington to Michigan as well. Many of the people who are feeling it the most are those whose power have been knocked out. Several million of them in Texas and authorities are warning people to be especially careful if they're trying to warm their homes without the power on.

They say portable gas-powered generators should never be used inside. Fireplaces, woodstoves and combustion heaters should only be used if they're vented correctly to the outside. Cars should never be left running inside a garage even with the garage door open.

All of these raise the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning which has been blamed for several of the deaths that have been reported during these winter storms. In the southeastern Texas city of Houston, scores of people waited for up to six hours to get inside a shelter that was set up at a convention center.

Volunteers brought food and warm clothing to help. Others whose electricity and water weren't running at home lined up in their cars for fast food in some cases waiting four hours to get to the drive-thru.

Last year natural gas and coal generated more than half of Texas' electricity. These plants need water to stay online and with water facilities frozen in the cold temperatures, some companies can't produce electricity. Wind turbines like these are responsible for around 25 percent of Texas' energy production.

We told you yesterday how some froze up or shut down during the storms. Experts say the turbines weren't prepared with antifreeze for instance for the frigid weather. Nuclear power accounts for about 11 percent of Texas' electricity and at least one nuclear unit shut down because it also needs water. So the result of all of this, Texans are stuck in the cold.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Millions of Texans are once again spending a brutal and dangerously cold night in their homes. This is because there are still millions of people without electrical power in their homes. This is the third night in a row that power is still out to millions of homes across the state because of this winter storm that blew in Sunday night into the state.

There is another storm expected to come through on Wednesday as well but the question remains. When will the electrical system be back up to full strength to get people the ability to warm up their homes? And as hard as it may seem to believe, we just don't have a clear answer at this point.

We spoke with the chief executive of the Texas power grid on Tuesday who said they had hoped to restore power on Tuesday and Wednesday but that is not clear. It's not clear that that's going to happen. We've heard from local and state officials who seem to suggest that there are other issues at play here.

The governor is saying that natural gas pipelines are frozen. So it could take longer to restore that power and -- and get that power into the system so that people can warm up their homes.

The bottom line here is, we just don't have any answers as to when the full strength of the -- the Texas electrical system will be back up and running so that millions of people don't have to spend another night in the dangerous cold once again. Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas, Texas.


AZUZ: 10 Second Trivia. Where would you find the largest known impact crater on Earth? South Africa, Siberia, Antarctica, or Mexico. South Africa's Vredefort crater is the world's largest known impact crater.

An impact crater, as the name suggests, is formed when something like an asteroid crashes into something else like Earth. This more recent phenomenon was not caused by an impact but it is one of 17 craters that have mysteriously appeared in the Russian arctic since 2013.

Scientists don't know for sure how this happened. They do know the hole's about 150 deep. Picture three city buses measured end to end and after it was discovered last summer, they flew a drone inside the crater to capture dozens of images from which they built a three-dimensional model. That helped researchers to hypothesis this. Methane gas somehow accumulates in the permafrost of Siberia.

They're not sure whether the gas comes from deep inside the Earth or near its surface but they believe that as the methane builds in a cavity in the ice it forms a mound. And that mound grows until if finally explodes, blasting ice and other debris and leaving behind the crater.

Scientists are using computer technology to try to predict where this will happen next. These craters appear in sparsely populated areas. They're usually discovered on accident by reindeer herders or during helicopter flights of the area.

The world's oceans are also vastly mysterious places. According to National Geographic, more than 4/5 of the sea has never been mapped in detail and scientists have gathered more data about the surface of Mars than they have the depths of our own blue marble.

But this is what oceanographers strive for, to not only learn about the waters covering the Earth but to share that knowledge with others. And a non-profit company is using virtual reality to do just that. Here's how it brings people a 3D view of the deep blue sea.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Once you break through the surface of the ocean, it really opens up for you. You will see so much life. It's colorful. It has so much movement. It feels like a transition into another world.

My name is Erica Woolsey (ph) and I'm a marine biologist with a specialty in coral reef ecology and also leader of the Hydras (ph), a non-profit devoted to ocean understanding. We want to promote ocean connection so that what we know about our ocean can turn into what we do to protect it.

Not everyone can access the ocean. I want to find ways to bring the ocean to everyone because the ocean is just too good not to share. The technologies that we use include virtual reality that can recreate what it's like to be underwater. Has anyone found the turtle yet?

Through our VR film Immerse (ph), we've taken nearly one million people virtually diving since June of 2020. Since the pandemic, we're taking even more people virtually diving. Sometimes the people that are divers and really miss what the coral reefs used to look like.

Sometimes it's people who have never been to the ocean and think it's scary but that experience makes them wonder if they can try. In order to collect this incredible 360 footage that makes you feel like you're diving, we use a very specialized camera and it is basically 13 mounted cameras in an underwater housing.

When we stitch this footage together, we can create this 360 effect where you can look in all directions. Right now, we're not only disconnected from our ocean but also each other. So these virtual dives are a wonderful tool to connect more to our natural environment.

No matter how far away from the ocean you live, you rely on the ocean. How much of our food? Most of the oxygen that we breathe comes from the ocean.

Having this experience, even virtually, can make you feel a lot more connected. Wherever you are, you can put on a VR headset and feel like you're diving. Because it's that human connection to these beautiful and often inaccessible places that leaves positive changes.


AZUZ: Tips for setting a new Guinness World Record. Take a look at the old record and then build something 91 percent bigger. That's what the makers of this snow maze did in Manitoba, Canada.

They're latest creation covers about 240,000 square feet. That's a larger amount of space than four football fields. They started building it in mid-

December and just opened on Valentine's Day and they plan to keep it open through March weather permitting.

Until they know which path to take, some may feel like the "walls" are closing in. There are a "labyrinth" of possibilities and wrong choices can lead to "dead ends". But if something built for both "amazement" and amusement find a quickest way to the exit is kind of the whole point.

Because after all, making your way through a maze is a right of "passages".

I'm Carl Azuz. Want to give a shout out to our viewers in the Netherlands today. We heard from the American School of the Hague. It's great to have you watching and we hope everyone watching has a great rest of your Thursday.