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Dan Rather: La Nina

Dan Rather, CBS Evening News anchor, put together this El Nino update exclusively for CBS.com.

La Nina, a spin-off of the current historically potent El Nino, is expected later this year.

Most weather experts say it is simply too early predict WHEN this La Nina will develop.

IF the change from El Nino to La Nina in the Pacific comes early in the summer, that could mean a larger-than-usual number of hurricanes in the Atlantic. Las Ninas generally have favored Atlantic hurricanes.

IF the change comes later in the summer or early fall, that could mean fewer hurricanes---based on historic El Nino and La Nina patterns.

The CBS News website, through "The CBS Evening News", will be posting more information about the expected La Nina and it's predicted effects on all parts of the country as more information becomes available.

[Brian Norcross, our "CBS Evening News" special weather consultant in Miami contributed mightily to this. Norcross is a nationally-recognized expert on hurricanes.] "The CBS Evening News", traditionally strong in all weather coverage but most especially with hurricanes, has several hurricane experts as special consultants. They include, besides Norcross, Dr Neil Frank, now in Houston , who for years was at the Miami U.S. Weather Service Hurricane Center and is globally recognized as a hurricane authority.

Dr Michael McPhaden is a Ph.D. Research Oceanographer for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration based in Seattle. He is generally credited with being among the first, if not THE first, expert to warn that the current El Nino was building to unusually large dimensions in the Pacific.

His findings are part of the reason "The CBS Evening News" jumped so hard on the story about the middle of last year, and has stayed on it so consistently [in the face of ridicule, early on, from competitors].

"The CBS Evening News has stayed in touched with Dr. McPhaden over succeeding months. He has been interviewed a number of times by "The CBS Evening News."

McPhaden told CBS News:
This is a "classic El Nino", so we should expedct the current weather pattern to continue through the winter and into spring.

There is a kind of constant "conveyor belt" of storms lined up out in the Pacific, pointed at California and surrounding areas of the U.S. West Coast. On this "conveyor belt", storms will just keep coming.

Right now, we are going through a very intense period, especially in California. In the near to medium-range future the intensity of West Coast storms may wane and there may be periods of nice sunny weather. BUT, the storms WILL continue. The "conveyor belt" will keep moving them in.

This, in turn, means more periods of unusual weather for most sections of the United States. Generally drier and warmer in the Midwest. Wetter in the Southwest and South.
Predicting the upper U.S. northwest and the eastern quadrant of the country is trickier. Perhaps somewhat warmer wintr weather in those sections, overall-but again, such predictions are the most unreliable.

The northeast U.S. is THE hardest section to predict, when it comes to El Nino's effects.

Watch for Dan Rather weeknights on the CBS Evening News, and listen to "Dan Rather Reporting" on weekday afternoons and/or evenings on the CBS radio network.

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