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El Nino: No Joke, No Hype!

An unusual winter storm, one working its way up the Atlantic seaboard from the South, is whipping much of the Eastern United States. Coastal areas are being flooded in mid-Atlantic states, with Virginia and the Carolinas bearing the brunt just now. Rivers are flooded. Kentucky and Tennessee currently getting the worst of THAT.

This storm, sweeping up from already hard-hit Florida, is carrying Atlantic moisture far inland, where it falls as rain, sleet and wet snow -- carrying it into eastern areas still digging out from a similar storm LAST week. Basically, it's the same pattern as last week's storm, except this one is slower-moving. An unusually active southern jet stream is picking up moisture from both the Gulf and the Atlantic, and dumping heavy precipitation on many areas.

In California, they are bracing for another major storm predicted to come in tomorrow. This, as the first of the really major storms attributed to El Nino this winter caused a heap of trouble Monday and Tuesday.

WHAT is going on? El Nino. Coming full. Big time. And we can expect more of this kind of thing, especially in California, Texas and Florida at least well into Spring, and perhaps Summer.

El Nino, to remind ourselves, is the immense weather pattern caused by unusual warming of waters off the Pacific coast of South America. It has spawned unstable and unusual weather all around the world.

This is one of if not THE biggest El Ninos on record.

When CBS News, alone among major radio and television networks, first began covering El Nino extensively as a hard-news story -- way back in the middle of last year -- there was ridicule from competitors.

Perhaps you will forgive us if we gently point out that they are ridiculing no longer. Most are suddenly and feverishly trying to play catch-up on the story. They have seen the light. Seen what is happening, and what is likely to Happen -- as this, one of the major weather stories of the century, continues to unfold.

No, that is NOT an overstatement. The days when anyone could reasonably accuse CBS News, or any other outlet, with hyping the El Nino story are over.

Dan Rather Reporting may be heard daily over many of the CBS Radio Network Stations

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