This unusual river of ice in the desert looks like fun. But the reason it's there isn't so funny.
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Natural Resources Defense Council

What the heck is going on here?

The video appears to have first hit YouTube in early November and has been making its rounds on social media. There have been a lot of guesses as to what it is, ranging from a flowing sand dune to a river of quicksand.

The answer? Hail.

When you get enough of it, it can flow like a river, picking up loose dirt or sand along the way. It happened in Colorado a few years ago and in the Texas Panhandle in 2012.


The one slushy you don't want to drink. GIF from ABC 7 Amarillo/YouTube.

What the "hail" is going on in the desert?

Heavy winter weather has been happening to the entire region for the past few weeks. Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia — pretty much everyone's been hit. And these storms have been packing an unusually strong wallop.

For instance, in late October, Baghdad was deluged with a whole month's worth of rain in a single day, according to an Al-Jazeera report.

And that much rain means flooding. Even the driest ground can only absorb so much water at a time, making creek beds, lakes, and low-lying areas swell with excess water. And if the rain happens fast enough, it can even turn into a flash flood.

“Flash floods are the most dangerous kind of floods, because they combine the destructive power of a flood with incredible speed and unpredictability," says the National Severe Storms Laboratory. “They can happen with little or no warning."




If you're thinking you can just power through it, think again. NOAA's flood safety site reminds people that it only takes a few inches of moving water to knock someone down and only a foot to start washing away cars!

All across the Middle East, dry river beds have become torrents, streets have become rivers, and refugee camps have been turned into swamps.

A lot of people have been hurt — some have died. 12 Saudi Arabians have been killed in the last few days alone.

Scientists predict these types of storms might become the new order of things.

Climate change is expected to knock extreme weather up a notch — droughts will become droughtier, floods will become floodier, and storms will become stormier.

A 2012 study from MIT, for instance, predicted that because of climate change, what we call a "storm of the century" hurricane could start happening every three to 20 years. That could mean a Hurricane Sandy or Typhoon Haiyan once a decade instead of once a lifetime. Other studies have found the same pattern in droughts, heat waves, and winter storms as well.

This is the kind of evidence people need to see.

There's still a lot we can do right now to help limit and prepare for these kinds of changes, but it starts with people understanding that this isn't just about the thermometer. It's about people's lives too.

This petition from the NRDC urges our world leaders to take action at the upcoming Paris Climate Talks — check it out to demand action!

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But the awkward interaction quickly turned sweet when the Black woman, Sherri Gonzales, appreciated the comment and thanked the young girl.

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Firefox

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Good thing my family wasn't looking over my shoulder while I was on my phone or my secret would have been ruined.

I'm certainly not alone in feeling like online ads can read your mind.

When I started asking around, it seemed like everyone had their own similar story: Brian Kelleher told me that when he and his wife met, they started getting ads for wedding rings and bridal shops within just a few weeks. Tech blogger Snezhina Piskov told me that she started getting ads for pocket projectors after discussing them in Messenger with her colleagues. Meanwhile Lauren Foley, a writer, told me she started getting ads for Happy Socks after seeing one of their shops when she got off the bus one day.

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Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

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Most of us don't think of a bird as a cuddly pet, but Swoop the snuggly magpie didn't care what humans think. After he was rescued by New Zealander Matt Owens, the baby bird became a beloved part of the family—the family being Owens and his cat, Mowgli.

"It was just sitting there bleeding, sort of unable to walk properly and it looked like it had been abandoned by its mum so I just picked it up and decided to take it home," Owens told Newshub. The timing of finding Swoop couldn't have been better. Owens' dad had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the bond he formed taking care of Swoop gave Owens an extra dose of love and comfort.

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