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Severe weather is already battering parts of the U.S. or will be soon

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Many parts of the U.S. have escaped heavy rain and snow this winter. That is about to change.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

A parade of weather systems is crossing the country this week thanks to cold air over the Pacific, meaning warming air from the Gulf of Mexico. Professor Cliff Mass teaches atmospheric science at the University of Washington.

CLIFF MASS: It'll form a series of storms over the Midwest, which will then move to the Northeast, which will bring very stormy conditions to the Eastern part of the United States.

MARTIN: At the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center, Greg Carbin says much of the country is already seeing it.

GREG CARBIN: High wind warnings across much of the South and Eastern United States, blizzard warnings in effect from the Cascades and the Pacific Northwest to the High Plains in the Central U.S., winter storm warnings across the Great Lakes region, even flood warnings in effect for some areas of the Mid-Atlantic, along the Appalachians and even on the Gulf Coast.

INSKEEP: You can almost picture these guys gesturing across the map of the United States as they talk.

MARTIN: Andrew Kozak is a meteorologist for CBS News Philadelphia.

ANDREW KOZAK: So in the Philadelphia area, if you live in an area that is prone to flooding - street flooding especially, underpasses, or sometimes just low-lying areas, or even across areas like the Schuylkill that flood, prepare now. Know that those routes that you would normally take are probably going to be flooded out.

INSKEEP: And if you're not sure how deep that puddle might be, Kozak says, do not drive through it.

KOZAK: Every year we see water rescues. We always say, turn around, don't drown. People always try to go through flooded streets, not realizing how little water can actually carry a car away.

MARTIN: But Kozak says even if the weather is unnerving, a forecaster's job is not to scare people.

KOZAK: I think everybody just needs to be aware that we're going to have days like this, and that's why we're here, to keep you guys safe and informed and get through these big systems as they come in one after another.

INSKEEP: In this country, people are divided over many things, but the weather does not pick sides. We're all in this one together.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIKE THE WEATHER")

10,000 MANIACS: (Singing) What a cold and rainy day. Where on Earth is the sun hid away? I hear the sound of a noon-bell chime. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.