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Get Ready For A Wacky Winter

It's official: Another winter of extremes is on the way. The national winter forecast issued Tuesday predicts heavy rain and snow in the Northwest, drought across the South and along the East Coast a winter that's unusually mild, reports CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone.

Anticipating all this, the government's top weather watcher sounds a lot like the rest of us.

"You can call this wacky weather. The United States always sees extreme weather," said Dr. D. James Baker, head of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

In fact, we've seen this unusual weather before - just last winter. Blame it on La Nina.

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"For most of the country we expect that this year's winter will be a replay of last year's milder La Nina conditions," Baker said.

La Nina is mild only when compared to her big brother El Nino. Both refer to temperature differences out in the Pacific that can change weather patterns across the country. Two years ago, El Nino caused all the problems. Since then we've had La Nina.

La Nina is likely to bring a milder than usual winter to Boston, where forecaster Ed Carroll says it's not so much the weather that's changing as our ability to understand it.

"I think that this is one of those situation where this has been going on since the Earth began, and because we're just now studying it over the last five to ten years, we're getting better and better at it," said Carroll, the weather forecaster for CBS station WBZ in Boston.

In the Northwest last winter, snow and rain fell in record amounts. With more of the same coming, Seattle weatherman Harry Wappler is already looking for the silver lining in all those storm clouds.

"The curious thing about weather in the Northwest is when it doesn't rain, people get madder. They want their rain," Wappler said.

No matter what kind of weather you want this winter you're likely to find it somewhere in the country - just not always where you'd usually expect it.

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