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.

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This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

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A 2015 survey conducted by the National Union of Students found that 60% of respondents turned to porn to fill in the gaps in sex education. While 40% of those people said they learned a little, 75% of respondents said they felt porn created unrealistic expectations when it comes to sex. Some of the unrealistic expectations from porn can be dangerous. A study found that 88% of porn contained violence, and another study found that those who consumed porn were more likely to become sexually aggressive.

But now the thing that breaks those unrealistic expectations… might also be porn? Pornhub has launched a sex education section.

The adult website's first series is simply titled, "Pornhub Sex Ed" and contains 11 videos and is accessible through the Pornhub Sexual Wellness Center. The section also contains articles, some showing real anatomy and examples in order to bust myths people may have picked up on other portions of the website.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.

Eight months into the coronavirus pandemic and it feels like disinformation and denial have spread as quickly as the virus itself. Unfortunately, disinformation and denial during a pandemic is deadly. Literally. People who refuse to accept the reality we're living in, who go about daily life as if nothing unusual were happening, who won't wear a mask or keep their distance from people, are preventing communities from being able to keep the pandemic under control—with very real consequences.

An ER nurse in South Dakota shared her experience treating COVID patients—some of whom refuse to believe they have COVID—and it's really shocking. One might think that the virus would become real to people if they were directly affected by it, but apparently that's just not true for some. As Jodi Doering wrote on Twitter:

"I have a night off from the hospital. As I'm on my couch with my dog I can't help but think of the Covid patients the last few days. The ones that stick out are those who still don't believe the virus is real. The ones who scream at you for a magic medicine and that Joe Biden is going to ruin the USA. All while gasping for breath on 100% Vapotherm. They tell you there must be another reason they are sick. They call you names and ask why you have to wear all that 'stuff' because they don't have COViD because it's not real. Yes. This really happens. And I can't stop thinking about it. These people really think this isn't going to happen to them. And then they stop yelling at you when they get intubated. It's like a fucking horror movie that never ends. There's no credits that roll. You just go back and do it all over again."

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While many of us have understandably let the challenges of 2020 get under our skin and bring us down, a young man from Florida was securing his place in the Guinness Book of World Records. Chris Nikic became the first person with Down syndrome to complete a full triathlon.

For the majority of people, a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride or a 26.2 mile run would be difficult on its own. The Ironman competition requires participants to complete them all in one grueling race. In a statement, Special Olympics Florida President and CEO Sherry Wheelock called Chris "an inspiration to all of us." She continued, "We are incredibly proud of Chris and the work he has put in to achieve this monumental goal. He's become a hero to athletes, fans, and people across Florida and around the world."

Nikic's journey to become an Ironman started off as a challenge far less lofty. He and his father, Nik, created the "1 percent better challenge." The idea was to keep Chris motivated during the pandemic and beyond. According to The Washington Post, the idea was for Chris to improve his workouts by one percent each day because he "doesn't like pain" but loves "food, videos games and my couch." The plan was to keep building strength and stamina while keeping his eye on the grand prize of completing a triathlon. Nik told the Panama City News Herald, "I was concerned because after high school and after graduation a lot of kids with Down syndrome become isolated and just start living a life of isolation. I said, 'Look, let's go find him something to get him back into the world and get him involved,' so we started looking around and we were fortunate that at the same time Special Olympics Florida started this triathlon program, and I thought, 'What a great way to get him started, get him in shape and get him to make some friends.'"


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