When will this terrible wildfire season in California end?

Rain will be the antidote to the worst of this California fire season.

Most years, some meaningful rains would have already arrived. But California’s grasses, woodlands, and forests remain profoundly parched — with some areas even matching or exceeding records for dryness after record-breaking summer heat and persistently dry autumn winds. 

While rains won’t completely stomp out California’s fires, it will significantly reduce the likelihood of vast areas of land continuing to catch fire. This year’s sustained dryness, however, is a foreshadowing of future parched, rainless falls. 

“It’s been pretty bleak this year,” Paul Ullrich, a climate scientist at the University of California, Davis, said in an interview. 

There’s no immediate rainfall on the horizon this week that might douse the expansive flames of either the deadly Camp or Woolsey fires, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Though, some weather models show perhaps a little rain falling in Northern California next week.  

But the bigger picture about dry California autumns — which means a longer, more potent fire season — is growing increasingly clear.

“What we’re seeing is a harbinger of things to come as this century progresses,” Sasha Gershunov, a research meteorologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said in an interview. 

Specifically, recent research provides strong evidence that California is going to see a shorter, more concentrated rain season. That means more rain packed into December through February, but critically, less rain during the fall and spring. 

“There is a big concern going forward when it comes to future fire seasons in California,” said Ullrich.

During the fall, the winds pick up in California, which fan the flames. This will always be a problem — it’s an ingrained and expected part of the region’s climate. But now, the winds are blowing over dryer vegetation, and the results have been historically destructive and deadly

Making matters worse, concentrated deluges during rainy winters (like that of 2017) means vegetation will flourish after the rains, only to be dried out by drought, hotter summers, and arid falls.

“A really wet season loads the gun for the following year, giving more vegetation to burn,” Neil Berg, a climate scientist and associate director at the UCLA Center for Climate Science, said in an interview. “That is something we call whiplash.”

“Living in extremes — it’s going to become one of the pressing problems of our time,” added Berg.

There are two main drivers of California’s condensed rainy season, and accordingly, drier falls. 

One is simple physics: As it grows hotter on Earth due to climate change, the atmosphere absorbs more water. So “whenever you have rainfall, you have more rainfall,” but there’s less moisture available in spring and fall, said Ullrich.

Second, the weather systems that bring storms to the Golden State — propelled by strong, higher atmospheric winds called the jet stream — are getting pushed farther north. That means more of California will be will be subjected to drier, desert-like conditions, explained Gershunov.

“We can expect a longer dry season,” Gershunov said.

Although the rains haven’t shown up much this fall, that certainly doesn’t mean the entire season will be a wash. About 12 to 15 percent of California Octobers see negligible rain, noted Ullrich. So this may be just be a dry start to an average (or above-average) rainy season.

“But it would be extremely anomalous if we had no rainfall for the next month,” Ullrich said.

When the rains do come, the only hope is that they’re normal. 

Heavy rains drive terrible mud slides down burned land — and there’s now a lot of freshly burned terrain. And like anywhere, too much rain at once means flooding. 

Unfortunately, with the extreme and historically unprecedented levels of carbon collecting in our atmosphere, temperatures are expected to continue rising this century. 

California should expect less rain in the fall, more land torched by fire, but more deluges during the winter. 

“The rains are usually so welcome, but not in their extreme form,” said Berg.

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Jimmy Fallon partners with Amazon to tell jokes with Alexa on Echo

Jimmy Fallon wants to tell you jokes. Oh joy.
Jimmy Fallon wants to tell you jokes. Oh joy.

Image: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic/getty images

Want the voice of one of the most annoying men in America to tell you even more annoying jokes? Now you can!

Jimmy Fallon unveiled a new partnership with Amazon on his Tonight Show on Monday. For the next month, if Echo users ask Alexa to “tell me a joke,” she’ll introduce her “friend Jimmy.”

“Jimmy” will then deliver the groaners.

Fallon is not the first celeb to collaborate with the mega-corporation behind a smart assistant. In February, Gordon Ramsay came to the Echo via an Alexa skill that allowed users to ask Ramsay what he thought of their cooking; naturally, he answered with an insult. In a much more enticing partnership, Google got John Legend to lend his voice to Google Home Assistant in May. The R&B revelation and husband of Chrissy Teigen can read Google Home Assistant users their weather or even deliver their wake up message. 

The Fallon partnership delivers a bit of levity for Amazon, which recently angered New Yorkers by choosing Queens as its next HQ location — and getting over a billion in tax breaks, from an already overflowing city with crumbling infrastructure, for a Jeff Bezos helipad. 

But as we know, Jimmy Fallon is just fine with cozying up to morally repugnant power brokers. Remember the Trump head-patting incident, in which he palled around with our soon-to-be autocrat in chief?

Here’s a good one, Jimmy: what did the public say to the richest man there ever was?

We’ll let you figure out the punchline for yourself.

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Royole FlexPai Foldable Smartphone Sells For More Than $1,300

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Being the change

Watch our video above to learn more about The Giving Keys and their mission to help people transition out of homelessness, and read our article below to go behind-the-scenes with the inspiring people who make The Giving Keys work.

Omara never envisioned her life path would lead to entrepreneurship. She’d struggled with addiction, experienced homelessness, lost custody of her kids, and spent time in prison. She rarely received positive affirmation from those around her — she’d never been called beautiful.

But two weeks into a new job, Omara’s life took a decidedly different turn. She’d secured employment in a role as a production associate at The Giving Keys, a social enterprise based in Los Angeles, and found herself being showered with empowering, affirming messages from her colleagues. She was called beautiful for the first time in her life — and she started to believe that the praise she was hearing was true.

Two and a half years into her time at The Giving Keys, Omara entered a micro-enterprise program at one of the company’s partners, Pepperdine University. Her proposed business concept, a residential and commercial cleaning company, received funding as a result. Today, Omara runs her own successful business in the L.A. area.

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Russian operatives apparently did not hack the midterm elections

Who needs election hacking when you've got Trump?
Who needs election hacking when you’ve got Trump?

Image: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The call is coming from inside the house.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and security experts say that Russian operatives did not significantly meddle in or hack the US midterm elections, according to the Wall Street Journal

“At this time, we have no indication of compromise to our nation’s election infrastructure that would prevent voting, change vote counts or distrust the ability to tally votes,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen reportedly said at a press conference.

In 2016, Russian hackers waged a multi-front war to sow discord in America and disparage Hillary Clinton: they hacked Democrat campaign emails, used social media to spread disinformation and inflame the public, and even attacked the election infrastructure of 20 states, successfully penetrating the Illinois voter roll.

Less than one day before the midterms, Facebook removed about 100 false Internet Research Agency-backed Instagram and Facebook accounts, based on a tip from the FBI. Facebook had already revealed many more false accounts in its purge, following revelations about the IRA, after the 2016 election.

Experts told the Journal that the ways that Russia may have attempted to interfere in the midterms could still emerge. And that at this point, it’s difficult to determine why the manipulation appears to have abated. The midterms may have been more difficult to influence, since the races and messaging were more granular, and diffused. Or Russia may have backed off after the U.S. showed it was on to its plans.

Still another explanation, the experts said, is that Putin’s work here is done. Who needs hackers and trolls when the President is undermining faith in the democratic system himself?

As Florida undertakes an election recount, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams sues the state to recount rejected ballots, and some close races, initially called for Republicans, may be flipping blue (notably the Arizona Senate seat), Trump has been lashing out on Twitter. 

He has been calling the elections “infected” and is accusing democrats of election “theft.” According to election officials, there is no indication that any of these claims are true.

Trump’s message of internal malfeasance is spreading. Several of the top posts on the Trump fan  Reddit thread, r/Trump, are propagating his false claims, using the hashtag #StopTheSteal. A scan of the term “election theft” shows that Twitter and Facebook are full of supporters backing up Trump’s claims. There has even been a demonstration in Florida against “election theft” in Broward County —a place that Trump himself tweeted about.

Meanwhile, Trump’s baseless claims are distracting from and undermining actual voter suppression that Stacey Abrams is fighting in Georgia and incompetence elsewhere. This once again mirrors the tactics of the Russians: false news and inflamed rhetoric twists actual issues, causes confusion, and leads to more partisan fighting.

Even if Putin may have his number one (if unwitting) operative for sowing discord sitting in the White House, the Russians’ work here is likely not done. As election infrastructure remains woefully underfunded, and election integrity continues to come into question, American election officials plan to remain vigilant for more manipulation as the national 2020 race comes into view.

But in the meantime, the hackers can kick back while Trump does their work for them.

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