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California Today: California Today: A Special Fires Edition

Supported byU.S.California Today: A Special Fires EditionGood morning.(Want to get California Today by email? Here’s the sign-up.)PhotoFirefighters in Ventura, Calif., on Tuesday.Credit Jae C. Hong/Associated PressThe year-end fires sweeping Southern California this week have raised a worrisome question: Where is the rain?The rainy season typically starts in October and lasts through April, with the heaviest rain coming from December through March. Precipitation has been at or above-normal in Northern California, but there has been little rain in the south.Since Oct. 1 just 2.3 inches have fallen in Los Angeles, and 1.15 inches in San Diego, which is way below the normal rainfall for that period, according to the California Department of Water Resources.That lack of precipitation is one reason fires have exploded across Southern California this week, officials said. Thousands of people were evacuated across Los Angeles County and in the path of another fire in Ventura.Continue reading the main storyIt is too soon to ring any drought alarm bells. Still, the memory of the long, punishing drought that ended last year — the worst in this state’s modern history — remains fresh. And a report earlier this week by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said that atmospheric conditions caused by global warming, including the creation of a resilient, water-blocking atmospheric ridge, means even less rain in the future.Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story“I still have a drought hangover so I wake up worried about drought,” said Felicia Marcus, the head of the state Water Resources Control Board.Southern California is dealing with the same collection of forces that accounted for the intensity of the wine country fires: an unusually wet winter led to extensive brush growth and a record-hot October baked the growth into kindling. The final ingredient was the heavy Santa Ana winds whipping across Southern California.“It was sort of a trifecta for Napa and Sonoma,” Ms. […]

Southern California is facing a serious tree catastrophe

Stricken sycamores, waning willows, ailing oaks – thanks to years of drought and invasive pests, tens of millions of trees are at imminent risk of a massive die-off. […]

California smog is getting worse again, but because of climate change, not cars

smog-eat-smog world

California smog is getting worse again, but because of climate change, not cars

By on Aug 12, 2016Share

Hospitals have been reporting increased visits from patients seeking treatment for respiratory ailments this summer in Southern California. The culprit? Smog.

Southern California has experienced its worst smog in seven years. Ozone levels have exceeded federal standards on 91 days in 2016, nearly 30 percent more than this time last year, according to the Los Angeles Times. Every day of August has exceeded the federal standard of 70 parts per billion.

Cities like Los Angeles have never been known for making it easier to breathe. Yet as bad as the air currently is, it’s still far better than than it was in the ’70s and ’80s, when LA had 200 smog-filled days a year.

While emissions from vehicles are usually the culprit behind smog, the reason for this season’s poor air quality has more to do with the particularly hot and dry weather, and an influx in wildfire activity. Ozone regulations and federal fuel efficiency standards for trucks and cars, meanwhile, have helped cities cut pollution.

But in the future, as climate change increases both wildfires and temperatures in the region, it’ll take even greater effort to make Southern California’s air clean again.

Election Guide ? 2016Making America Green AgainOur experts weigh in on the real issues at stake in this election

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Meet the People Living on the San Andreas Fault Line

This year’s hottest Hollywood hit played out like any typical disaster thriller. The entire state of California was literally ripped apart, with chunks of the Western Coastline crashing into the ocean after a staggering 9.1 earthquake hit the region. The movie was the latest in a growing assortment of Hollywood cliffhangers that feed into the country’s fascination with the San Andreas Fault, which stretches across 800 miles of California and is predicted to elicit a massive earthquake that will have ripple effects of copycat quakes across the state. The film was a great success, premiering on 3,777 screens across the country and spurring a flurry of conversation surrounding this dramatized apocalyptic disaster. However, Moment photographer Knut Egil Wang wanted to go beyond the green screen to get a more realistic look at the landscape and lives of millions of Californians living on this infamous landmark. After a year-long sequence of trips along the fault line—from Bombay Beach in Southern California to Shelter Cove in Northern California—Wang discovered a people who, though perhaps less theatrical, are no less enigmatic. “Many of the subjects I approached were closed off and there was a strong feeling of suspicion and unease,” he says. “Most lacked incentive and even hope.” Most surprising was their nonchalance, Wang says. Many were unaware of their precarious position on the fault line and even fewer were worried about it. “For most, everyday life has more challenges and potential threats, like Vibhu Batta from India who works in a liquor store in Desert Hot Springs,” Wang says. “He doesn’t think much of earthquakes. There is actually few things he thinks less of than earthquakes. He said ‘God sent me here and he will take me back when it´s time. Maybe a gunman shoots me in the store. Only God knows.’” He asked another resident about the fault line, who pointed to the San Andreas Lake. “He had no idea what I was talking about,” he says. “I kept wanting to tell them, ‘your house is directly on one of the largest fault lines in the world. If an earthquake hits, it could divide your front porch in half. You might want to be a little bit concerned about that.’” The trappings of the inland California towns struck him as surprisingly prosaic, Wang says. From the rugged, treeless deserts of Southern California where much of the fault is visible, to the rocky, Mediterranean terrain with shifting winds and dry, coastal conditions, Wang’s images expose the quiet vapidity in these crime-ridden regions. “Residents were growing things that you smoke, and people just loitered around public spaces.” California is notorious for its earthquakes. With nearly 6,300 of them this year along, varying between barely noticeable to grab-that-lamp-or-we’ll-be-buying-a-new-one, seismic activity is almost a constant in the sunshine state. More destructive earthquakes in the past have led many to wonder when the next “Big One” will strike. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake hit with a magnitude 7.8 impact. It ran along the northern section of the fault, causing an estimated 3,000 deaths and destroying over 80 percent of the city. However, the section of the fault north of Los Angeles has not ruptured for more than 150 years, and its southernmost section, east of Los Angeles near the Salton Sea, has not ruptured in more than 300 years, according to the director of the Southern California Earthquake Center Thomas Jordan. A large earthquake could happen any time, he tells TIME. “We don’t know when the next big one on the southern San Andreas Fault will be, but as far as we can tell this fault is locked, loaded, and ready to roll.” The Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast predicts that the state has a 99.7 percent chance of having an earthquake with a magnitude 6.7 or larger in the next 30 years. It will most likely fall along the fault and it is likely to be bigger than anything ever measured in California. Wang first approached the project by mapping out the fault line. Over the course of a year, he returned to different towns along the landmark, making his way to San Francisco. He was looking for houses situated directly on the fault line—houses that one could speculate would be hardest hit in an earthquake—but access was difficult. “They were very opposed to my shooting their homes and their families,” Wang says. “I would arrange to come by and they might even agree to my shooting them at first, but plans fell through almost every time.” After numerous failed plans, his project became more spontaneous: a passing local, a roadside store, people in transit and residents in everyday moments. His photos also show geological traces of the fault, including indents in the road and changes in vegetation. Wang sees the project as potentially only half finished. “I could potentially do a before and after piece if the earthquake did hit,” he says. “But I can’t predict where the damages will be.” Knut Egil Wang is a photojournalist based in Los Angeles, California. He is a member of Moment Agency, which is represented by INSTITUTE. Myles Little, who edited this photo essay, is a Senior Photo Editor at TIME. Rachel Lowry is a writer and contributor for TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @rachelllowry. […]

Why more roads = more traffic jams

Why more roads = more traffic jams

15 Oct 2014 4:28 PM



Why more roads = more traffic jams


We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Adding more roads — and more lanes on those roads — does absolutely nothing for gridlock. It’s counterintuitive, perhaps, but it’s true: Five years, $1 billion, and at least one new traffic-hell moniker later (“Carmageddon”), L.A. drivers on the 405 freeway actually added a minute to their daily commutes, in spite (or because?) of a snazzy new carpool lane.

From Southern California Public Radio:

That outcome is probably not surprising to economist Matthew Turner.

Turner co-authored a study that showed a one-to-one correlation in road capacity and the amount of drivers on the road.

“There’s a lot of trips that you don’t take because you don’t want to drive when it’s congested,” he says, “and if it’s little bit less congested there’s a lot of trips people are willing to take.”

There are just too many cars, and traffic has as much to do with human psychology as it does infrastructure. If we attempt to relieve gridlock, all we get is more drivers, and more gridlock. As Umbra put it in a recent post, carpool lanes are “designed to make driving easier. Yes, they have some environmental bennies, but they don’t do enough to attack our main climate goal: curbing driving, period.”

The only thing that will actually help curb traffic, according to Turner, is charging people to drive at rush hour. (He claims it’s worked in Europe and Asia). This kind of disincentive may be just as important as alt-transport incentives. Hit us where it hurts, and we may choose not to drive so much. ’Nuff said.

Why the 405 isn’t any faster with more lanes

, Southern California Public Radio.

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Vicious OG Marijuana Strain Review And Pictures

Vicious OG Marijuana Cannabis ;Review And Pics The Vicious OG marijuana strain is pretty rare I’m learning. It’s been up here in Oregon for awhile, but it sounds like other than Southern California, it’s not a common strain. The Vicious OG strain is a standard OG strain. To me I can always tell an OG because […]

Los Angeles Earthquake: Aftershock Rattles Southern California

LOS ANGELES (AP) — USGS says magnitude-4.1 aftershock has hit near Friday’s moderate quake in Southern California.

More from the Associated Press:

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A moderate earthquake that rattled a swath of Southern California forced several dozen people in one community out of their homes after firefighters discovered foundation problems that made the buildings unsafe to enter, authorities said Saturday.

Fire crews red-tagged 20 apartment units in a building in the Orange County city of Fullerton after finding a major foundation crack. Structural woes, including broken chimneys and leaning, were uncovered in half a dozen single-family houses, which were also deemed unsafe to occupy until building inspectors clear the structures. The damage displaced 83 residents.

Despite the evacuations and scattered damage, Friday night’s magnitude-5.1 earthquake centered about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles mostly frayed nerves.

The quake was preceded by two smaller foreshocks. More than 100 aftershocks followed, including a magnitude-4.1 that hit Saturday afternoon, the largest in the sequence so far that was felt over a wide region. No injuries were reported.

Residents were inconvenienced and some lost valuables, but “thankfully the damage wasn’t greater,” said Chi-Chung Keung, a spokesman for the city of Fullerton.

Business owners in Orange County spent the aftermath sweeping up shattered glass and restocking shelves. Utility crews worked to restore power and shut off gas leaks and water-main breaks. A rock slide in the Carbon Canyon area of nearby Brea also caused a car to overturn. The occupants had minor injuries, and the road remained closed to traffic.

The Red Cross opened a shelter in neighboring La Habra but closed it once the 38 people who stayed overnight returned home.

“Everything is starting to get settled down here,” La Habra police Sgt. Mel Ruiz said.

In Fullerton, some residents will have to stay elsewhere until building inspectors can check out the red-tagged apartments and houses and give an all-clear, Fire Battalion Chief John Stokes said.

Another 14 residential structures around the city suffered lesser damage, including collapsed fireplaces. Shortly after the main earthquake, the city dealt with a dozen water-main breaks and multiple natural-gas leaks, Stokes said.

A water-main break flooded several floors of Brea City Hall, and the shaking knocked down computers and ceiling tiles, Stokes said.

It was not immediately clear if City Hall would reopen Monday. An email to the mayor was not immediately returned.

Friday’s jolt was the strongest to strike the greater Los Angeles region since 2008. Southern California has been in a seismic lull since the deadly 1994 Northridge earthquake killed several dozen people and caused $25 billion in damage.

The latest quake hit a week after a magnitude-4.4 temblor centered in the San Fernando Valley shook buildings and rattled nerves.

It appeared to break a 1-mile segment of the Puente Hills thrust fault, which stretches from the San Gabriel Valley to downtown Los Angeles and caused the 1987 Whittier Narrows quake that killed eight people. The rupture lasted half a second, scientists said.

U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones said it’s unclear whether Southern California is entering a more active seismic period. “We have been in a really quiet time. It can’t stay that way,” Jones said.

A day after the magnitude-5.1 quake, Peter Novahof went shopping with his family at a hardware store in Long Beach. Though nothing was knocked out of his place at his home, he figured it was a good time to think about securing his television and cupboards with glassware.

“We’ve had an earthquake drought for a while,” he said. So people are decorating their houses without taking into consideration that “we’re in earthquake zone.”


AP writer Daisy Nguyen contributed to this report from Long Beach, Calif.