This is how El Niño is affecting California's devastating drought.

Death Valley hasn't looked all that much like death lately.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.


The California hotspot is the warmest, driest place in North America.

But from these gorgeous pics, you might not know it.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

That's because Death Valley is in the midst of a "superbloom."

It's exactly as what it sounds like.

Photo by Robyn Deck/AFP/Getty Images.

Every decade or so, the conditions are just right for this beautiful landscape to dwarf the typically barren, eastern California countryside.

But how can this be when we all know California is in a no-good, historic, can't-water-the-lawn drought right now?

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images.

It turns out El Niño — a weather pattern not generally known for leaving good news in its wake — had a bit of input this year.

The high amounts of rainfall resulted in this beautiful landscape:

Photo by Robyn Deck/AFP/Getty Images.

To give you a little perspective, Death Valley on average sees a mere two inches of rain a year. So while El Niño didn't bring weeklong downpours to California, it definitely dropped enough precious water for Death Valley to look a little less barren.

Beyond Death Valley, El Niño is making a mark on California, which is in critical need of some H2O.

The Golden State is facing a major water crisis. Its drought, which has plagued the state since 2011, is the worst in over a century. And an El Niño — which happens every few years, when a warming Pacific Ocean brings exceptionally wet and stormy winters to the West Coast — has meant much-needed relief to parts of Northern California.

Although El Niño is certainly not a weather pattern to celebrate — it's caused dangerous flooding in San Diego (not to mention complete devastation in many other regions of the world) — it's difficult for Californians to pass up a good rain shower.


If any place needed the water, it was Shasta Lake, near Redding, California.


Things are looking up for Folsom Dam, northwest of Sacramento, too.


Feeling left out, Lake Oroville has bulked up as well.


And the Sierra Mountains? They're a lot whiter than they were in 2015.


The Sacramento River is running wetter than it has been throughout much of the last several years.

But don't be fooled: California's drought is far from over. And El Niño has actually been a bit of a bust, all things considered.

Just ask the folks in SoCal.

Despite the cheery pics and tweets above, El Niño has been relatively disappointing thus far for Californians, particularly in the southern portion of the state (there could be an early spring miracle, but I wouldn't hold my breath).

While January brought welcomed wet weather, February was pretty much as dry as a bone.

A dying Joshua Tree in California. Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

"This year so far we haven’t had anything to write home about in Southern California," Tony Barnston of the Institute for International Research on Climate and Society told Mashable last month. "It’s been near normal, which is not good enough."

The crisis in California is a bleak reminder that a warming planet means more water scarcity.

Although climate change isn't single-handedly to blame for the Golden State's water woes, research found there's little doubt it's definitely exacerbating the problem.

This was Folsom Lake reservoir back in September 2015, when it was standing at only 18% capacity. Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images.

But California is far from a one-off situation. Climate change is altering eco-systems (on land and under water) basically everywhere. And that has meant more wildfires, economic losses in agriculture, and, of course, severe droughts affecting millions of people across the globe.

That's why World Water Day (March 22) is so crucial.

Launched by the United Nations in 1993, World Water Day is an annual event that draws attention to how communities around the world are affected by water-related issues.

It's a worthy cause because — regardless if you live in Southern California or Sub-Saharan Africa — water is a precious resource none of us should take for granted.

Learn more about how you can get involved in World Water Day here.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Eight months into the pandemic, you'd think people would have the basics figured out. Sure, there was some confusion in the beginning as to whether or not masks were going to help, but that was months ago (which might as well be years in pandemic time). Plenty of studies have shown that face masks are an effective way to limit the spread of the virus and public health officials say universal masking is one of the keys to being able to safely resume some normal activities.

Normal activities include things like getting a coffee at Starbucks, but a viral video of a barista's encounter with an anti-masker shows why the U.S. will likely be living in the worst of both worlds—massive spread and economic woe—for the foreseeable future.

Alex Beckom works at a Starbucks in Santee, California and shared a video taken after a woman pulled down her "Trump 2020" mask to ask the 19-year-old barista a question, pulled it back up when the barista asked her to, then pulled it down again.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana keeps trending on social media for his incredibly eloquent explanations of issues—so much so that L.A. Times columnist Mary McNamara has dubbed him "Slayer Pete," who excels in "the five-minute, remote-feed evisceration." From his old-but-newly-viral explanation of late-term abortion to his calm calling out of Mike Pence's hypocrisy, Buttigieg is making a name for himself as Biden's "secret weapon" and "rhetorical assassin."

And now he's done it again, this time taking on the 'originalist' view of the Constitution.

Constitutional originalists contend that the original meaning of the words the drafters of the Constitution used and their intention at the time they wrote it are what should guide interpretation of the law. On the flip side are people who see the Constitution as a living document, meant to adapt to the times. These are certainly not the only two interpretive options and there is much debate to be had as to the merits of various approaches, but since SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, that view is currently part of the public discourse.

Buttigieg explained the problem with originalism in a segment on MSNBC, speaking from what McNamara jokingly called his "irritatingly immaculate kitchen." And in his usual fashion, he totally nails it. After explaining that he sees "a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility" in Coney Barrett's descriptions of herself, he followed up with:

Keep Reading Show less

When you picture a ballerina, you may not picture someone who looks like Lizzy Howell. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't.

Howell is busting stereotypes and challenging people's ideas of what a dancer should look like just by being herself and doing her thing in her own body. The now-19-year-old from Delaware has been dancing since she was five and has performed in venues around the world, including Eurovision 2019. She has won scholarships and trains up to four hours a day to perfect her skills in various styles of dance.

Jordan Matter Photography shared a documentary video about Howell on Facebook—part of his "Unstoppable" series—that has inspired thousands. In it, we get to see Howell's impressive moves and clear love of the art form. Howell shares parts of her life story, including the loss of her mother in a car accident when she was little and how she was raised by a supportive aunt who helped her pursue her dance ambitions. She also explained how she's had to deal with hate comments and bullying from people who judge her based on her appearance.

"I don't think it's right for people to judge off of one thing," Howell says in the video. And she's right—her size is just one thing.

Keep Reading Show less