tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC January 21, 2016 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
states of emergency tonight. a blockbuster blizzard set to unleash its fury on 88 million people. snow and a wild mix of ice and tornados, a winter weather nightmare is here. on the attack. 11 days to iowa. hillary clinton unloads on bernie sanders. a moment of panic for the gop establishment facing the proposition of trump or cruz, which one? they're getting behind. sounding the alarm. an embattled governor asked to appear before congress as e-mails reveal a trail of dis missed warnings to stop the water crisis that poisoned an american city.
deadly spy thriller. a former russian agent killed by poison in his tea. allegations point the finger at putin. "nightly news" begins right now. tens of mills are bracing for what forecasters fear will be a historic snowstorm that could parlize the eastern third of the country. winter weather advisories and warnings are posted from arkansas to the northeast that by this time will bring brutal winds, whiteout conditions and two feet of snow along parts of the east coast. air travel disruptions could ripple across the entire country. expected to get the worst of it, washington, d.c., where tonight folks have fresh reason to question whether the city is ready. al roker has the
first nbc's miguel emgear in the bull's-eye. >> a monster storm set to blast 80 million. >> i think it's going to be bad. >> reporter: 36 hours of blinding snow, ice, outages. >> hunker down. we are not going anywhere. >> reporter: the bull's-eye friday, washington, d.c. just last night it turned ugly here, a dusting brought the nation's capital to its knees. >> if this is what a single inch does, how can we handle a blizzard? >> reporter: 20-minute commutes took up to five hours. some abandoned their cars. the president's motorcade slipping and sliding. d.c.'s mayor under fire for being underprepared. >> we are very sorry for inadequate response. we believe that we did not provide adequate resources. >> reporter: now they're expecting two feet of snow. >> how bad do you
>> for this area? we shut down for half an inch of snow so it's going to be bad. >> reporter: with five states, d.c. and georgia under a state of emergency, more than 1,000 flights are already canceled. in washington, rail suspended this weekend. worries gas will run short, food is flying off the shelves. shovels and snow salt hard to come by. >> i've never seen the line this long. maryland's governor issued a warning, stock pile food. >> not just to last for the weekend, but enough to last up to an entire week. >> reporter: from north carolina to the jersey shore, high tides and strong winds, dangerous combination for an area hit hard by superstorm sandy. >> we are planning for the worst, hoping for the be. >> reporter: tonight, a scramble to prepare, a race against time. tonight it is cold but dry outside of washington, d.c.
live picture from our helicopter outside along the beltway. there is a lot of traffic. it's a nightmare again. hopefully in 24 hours it will be a different scene and there will be less vehicles, but plenty of snow on the ground. meantime, we are at a salt barn, the largest one east of the mississippi. they have already taken tons of salt outside this facility. over the next 48 hours, they are going to need every inch of it. >> miguel, thank you. al roker is here tracking the storm. >> reporter: a swath of snow that will stretch 1,200 miles all the way into new england. let's show you where we expect to see the snow. the big bull's-eye around the washington, d.c. area. we are talking about 18-24 inches. western parts of the region could see three feet. blizzard watches, the snow begins around rush hour. we look at philadelphia. we are going to see anywhere from 12-18 inches, 10-16 inches of snow, heavy wet snow and gusty winds. new york city, we lowered the amounts
inches of snow. the other big problem is going to be icing. we are talking about anywhere from 0.1 inch to 1/2 inch. power outages likely from washington to charlotte. there is a severe side, tornado watches and warnings in effect. that will move east into florida by tomorrow. a wide-ranging storm. >> al, thank you. this monster storm comes in the middle of the most powerful el nino on record. that is no coincidence. the weather phenomenon is fueling this wild and unpredictable season including this system, blizzard conditions, ice and tornado warnings from the same storm deep into the south. nbc's gabe gutierrez has that part of the story. >> reporter: a caravan of power crews headed to north carolina. >> the biggest impact here in charlotte with power outages with 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch of ice. >> reporter: where
just for snow and sleet but crippling ice. >> our goal with this potential winter storm coming to north carolina is to be overprepared and hopefully underwhelmed. >> reporter: the savage storm comes from what some are calling a godzilla el nino. the weather phenomenon brought on by warm pacific waters could be fueled by a strong dip in the jet stream funneling low pressure systems across the gulf. it's been one extreme after another. in south carolina, historic flooding in october. >> it doesn't feel like the holidays without being cold. >> reporter: new york, record high temperatures in december. around christmas, tornados in texas. then florida. and colossal rains in california that could help pull the state out of a devastating drought. >> what el nino does is disrupts in a major patterns around the earth. >> reporter: tonight, cities like charlotte are preparing for the worst.
precaution to make sure our roads are ready for the storm itself and crews are ready to respond afterwards. >> reporter: amid the strongest el nino in memory. the big concern is icing on these roads here in charlotte. the freezing rain is set to begin in just a few hours, lester. >> gabe, thank you. let's turn to the battle for the white house. hillary clinton firing off her most direct attacks yet at bernie sanders as their race grows increasingly tight. on the gop side, donald trump remains the front-runner with fellow outsider ted cruz now being targeted by many within his own party. we are covering both races beginning with nbc's andrea mitchell in des moines. >> reporter: good evening, lester. with that race getting tighter on the democratic side. hillary clinton went after bernie sanders with her toughest attacks yet. a small private college in iowa, clinton hammered bernie sanders, claiming he can't deliver on his promises. >> i'll tell you, i'm not interested in ideas that sound good
never make it in the real world. >> reporter: sanders responded to nbc's kasie hunt. >> virtually every plan we have brought forth is supported by the american people. >> reporter: clinton delivering sharp jabs from a teleprompter, unusual for the setting, betrayed sanders as naive on foreign policy, especially iran. >> he suggested we invite iranian troops into syria. that is like asking the arsonist to be the firefighter >> reporter: touting her own experience after 9/11 and secretary of state. >> the one candidate who has everything it takes. >> reporter: the ad iowa is buzzing about is sanders, using powerful images set to simon and gar funk kell's anthem "america." aimed at inspiring the students who have been flocking to sanders' rallies. this sophomore attended events for both candidates several times. >> my vision for the
what bernie sanders here. but i believe that there are things leading up to that vision that need to take place and hillary >> reporter: here democratic caucus goers are liberal. 43% describing themselves as socialists. if you were to describe yourself, socialist, capitalist? >> socialist. >> reporter: last time clinton finished third in iowa. she is fighting to avoid another upset to a candidate iowans may find more instant inspirational. andrea mitchell, des moines. >> donald trump or ted cruz? for some it's a killer choice. >> you get the same outcome. whether it's death by being shot or poison, does it really matter? >> reporter: senator lindsey graham one of cruz' congressional colleagues rooting against thim.
>> if you think what we need is more republicans in washington to cut a deal with harry reid and nancy pelosi and chuck schumer, then i guess donald trump's your guy. >> reporter: cruz taking aim at trump though firing on the front-runner hasn't worked for others so far. >> his new line of attack i've become establishment. give me a break. >> reporter: trump arguing he has the washington support cruz doesn't frm. >> they like me those guys. there is nothing wrong with that. we've got to make deals. we don't want to sign executive orders. we want to make deals. >> reporter: the washington establishment would rather have a wild card that wants to get something done than someone they know and don't like. >> reporter: while bob dole is calling a cruz victory cataclysmic for the party, cruz's campaign said it raised $700,000 this week after iowa's governor gave an anti-endorsement. >> i believe it would be a big miss take for iowa to support him.
to trump, cruz has a stronger overall favorability rating, performing better with african-americans, latinos and women. >> if it's between trump and cruz what does the establishment do? >> they are going to have to go with cruz. >> reporter: why? >> probably the lesser of two evils. >> reporter: hallie jackson, nbc news. various and breaking news on the toxic water crisis in flint, michigan. the epa for the region resigned and the agency issued an emergency order requiring the state to take immediate action to protect the public health. democrats in congress want the republican governor to appear on capitol hill. nbc's stephanie gosk has late details. >> reporter: the children come into this ymca like every kid in flint who drank the water will have to be monitored their entire childhood for exposure. >> some of the
going to have is ridiculous. >> reporter: their parents reacted to 74 pages of documents about the crisis, voluntarily released by michigan governor rick schneider. the documents lay out a timeline of warnings that were dis missed. the state agency that ensures clean drinking water spent months denying the lead contamination until october. in an e-mail, the director wrote, i believe now we made a corrosion control should have been required from the corrosion control treats the water, preventing lead from leeching into the system. six months before on april 25th, epa manager wrote, "flint has essentially not been using any corrosion control treatment." june 24th, sounds the alarm again. "recent drinking water sample results indicate the presence of high lead." no action was taken as state water officials continued to insist the water was safe. even after multiple
proved otherwise many in december, a letter from the task force set up by the governor described the response as aggressive dis missal, belittlement and attempts to dis credit these efforts with a persistent tone of scorn and derision. the head of that agency and his spokesperson resigned. the documents released and governor's apologies are not enough for many who line up every day for handouts like this one. stephanie gosk, nbc news. to a controversy we've been following in hollywood. don't count on seeing superstar will smith at the oscars next month. the actor is joining his wife jada pinkett smith boycotting the show criticizing the lack of diversity among this year's nominees. the backlash has the academy considering a major rewrite to its rules. >> if you continue to deny my work. >> reporter: will smith co-starring in
to boycott the oscars. >> we are uncomfortable to stand there and say that this is okay. >> reporter: former academy president says the academy gets a bad rap. >> as president, i worked very hard to bring more diversity into the academy. i'm very proud of the fact we did >> reporter: but the backlash may prove too loud to ignore. we need to do more and better and more quickly, says the first black president. >> they have to do something dramatic. this is not a time for cautious baby steps. >> tim gray, awards editor for "variety" magazine, says the academy will increase best pictures nominations to a mandatory ten. if that were the case this year, many believe straight out of compton would have been included. the academy is also considering expanding the acting category to more than five nominations and creating new membership rules. currently, academy membership is for life.
>> reporter: the nominees in hollywood aren't diverse because the academy itself isn't diverse. a 2013 study found 93% of voters are white, 76 male with an average age of 63. some blame the studios. >> the studios are overwhelmingly cause caucasian and male. >> reporter: perhaps the spotlight is misdirected. who killed a former russian spy? a poison plot that sounds right out of a cold war thriller. now a new investigation concludes the approval to kill likely came from vladimir putin himself. also the astonishing viral video of a snowboarder trapped in an avalanche who lived to tell the tale. (music) woman: i' ll never remember all the projects, presentations, or meetings i gave up my nights for. (music'
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twist in a real-life spy mystery that has remained unresolved for nearly a decade. a former russian spy who fled his country only to be fatally poisoned years later. as bill neely tells us, a new investigation concludes what many suspected, that the deadly plot likely went all the way to the top of the kremlin. >> reporter: on his deathbed, alexander litvinenko a former russian spy blamed vladimir putin for his murder. today a british judge said putin probably
naming two russians as the killers. andre lugovi sent to london with polonium, a radioactive liquid and dmitri koutun who went with him. he defected to british intelligence and made enemies. russian special forces used his image as target practice. the london assassins poisoned him by pouring polonium into his green tea. >> the conclusion that the russian state was probably involved in the murder of mr. litvinenko is deeply disturbing. >> reporter: russia trashed the report as a political smear. >> it's unacceptable that the report concludes that the russian state was in any way involved in the death of mr. litvinenko. >> reporter: lugovi denies murder today as he did last year. what happened in this hotel may have been state-sponsored murder, but this is a
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>>. >> a new record involving air travel and it involves a lot of americans packing. the tsa says it sees more guns last year than ever before. over 2,600 of them, an average of seven guns per day found in carry-ones. the most guns were found in airports in dallas, atlanta, houston, denver and phoenix. the buffalo bills just brought on the first full-time female coach in nfl history. kathryn smith will serve as the special teams quality control coach.
worked at administrative assistant to rex ryan who said today he is excited and proud for her. a jaw-dropping piece of video making the rounds captured terrifying moments for a snowboarder caught in an avalanche. the falling wall of snow sweeps him down the mountain partially burying him. luckily he was able to find his way to the surface. the resort is seeking criminal charges saying he caused the avalanche. they met as strangers, then a life-saving gift m [burke] at farmers, we've seen almost everything, so we know how to cover almost anything. even "turkey jerks." [turkey] gobble. [butcher] i'm sorry! (burke) covered march fourth,2014. talk to farmers. we've seen almost everything, so we know how to cover almost anything.
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finally tonight, an incredible story about someone who gave the gift of life to a total stranger through an organ donation. that's not where this story ends. in fact, as joe fryar tells us, with these two, it was just the beginning. >> reporter: heather's glowing smile did a good job masking the pain caused by her failing liver. >> basically, time was my enemy. >> reporter: desperate for a living donor, heather's family spread the word. a medical hail mary that landed in the break room of her cousin's work place where chris dempsey overheard a conversation and
>> it's a scary thing to go through, but it's one of the greatest feelings in the world to help somebody like that. >> i couldn't believe. i just said, thank you. what do you say to someone that just is saving your life? >> reporter: the transplant took place march 16, 2015. chris dave heather 55% of his liver. shortly after that, all of his heart. >> after we got out of the hospital, we made it official that she was going to be my girlfriend. >> reporter: turns out some time between the first time they met and the surgery, chris and heather discovered they were a match in more ways than one. >> everything was about me and he was so concerned about me. wow, i just met him. just how sweet he was. i was thinking, this could work. >> reporter: last month, chris had one more thing to give heather, an engagement ring. needless to say his future inlaws were already impressed.
better man out there. >> reporter: today heather is healthy and chris' liver totally regenerated as they share their story about organ donation, a gift of life, and for heather, someone to spend that life with. joe fryar, nbc news. quite a love story. that's going to do it for us on a thursday night. i'm lester holt. for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. @ @0001 of an investigation