Winter Storm Warning; Antarctica Rescue Underway

Good morning to you on this Thursday, 2 January 2014, from the WBTV News morning team...John Carter reporting to you this morning!  Be sure to tune in from 4:30 to 7:00 this morning for the area's best newscast.

A Winter Storm Warning for parts of the North Carolina mountains goes into effect at 4:00 this afternoon.  Al Conklin will have complete details in your First Alert Weather forecast.  We're also going to be getting rain today as well.

Speaking of weather...the first winter storm of 2014, having buried Illinois in a half-foot or more of snow, is descending on New England and New York. Near blizzard conditions are forecast for areas along the Northeastern coast.

The excitement is growing over the upcoming Carolina Panthers playoff game...but there's also a lot of concern by fans over the sale of playoff tickets.  7,000 playoff tickets went on sale online yesterday...and sold out in just three minutes!  Many fans blame computerized ticket scalpers for scooping up the tickets so quickly...and many of the tickets are now being sold for premium prices on the secondary market.  Our Astrid Martinez will have more in a live report.

Breaking news:  The rescue has begun of the 52 scientists and tourists on a research ship that's been stuck for more than a week in ice in the Antarctic.  A helicopter that's landed next to the ship is expected to shuttle the 52 to a nearby vessel.  This is happening right now.

There are reports this morning that former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon is in critical condition, his life in danger.

Iranian state TV says a magnitude 5.5 earthquake has killed one person and injured 12 in a small town in the country's south. The quake struck early this morning in the town of Bastak, about 750 miles south of Tehran.

The Horry County Coroner's Office says a set of human remains found last weekend are not from a New York woman missing since coming to Myrtle Beach for spring break in 2009. Coroner Robert Edge says the bones sent off for DNA testing belong to a man who was at least 20 years old.

In sports:  Blake Griffin scored 13 of his 31 points in the final 7:05 and Jared Dudley got 11 of his 20 points in the third quarter, leading the Los Angeles Clippers to a 112-85 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats last night.

South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney says he will enter for the NFL draft. Likely the top overall talent in the draft class, Clowney finished his college career Wednesday in the Gamecocks' 34-24 victory over Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.

All that and so much more when you join us from4:30 to 7:00 this morning!  And remember... traffic and weather together every seven minutes!  Plus...the return of Christine Nelson this morning!  Please join us...see you then!