California's wet weather has some believing drought is over

A statewide downpour brought chaos to Californians this week, but it also provided some welcome relief to the state’s 20 million residents who have suffered from drought conditions for more than four years.

The record precipitation now has some experts declaring the drought over.

The drought began in 2012, but California Gov. Jerry Brown did not declare a drought state of emergency until January 2014. A response team was later established, and state lawmakers have allocated over $ 3 billion for drought relief and water management improvements.

The U.S. Geological Survey said 2014 was the warmest year on record for California.

According to Park Williams, a climate scientist and an assistant professor at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, the drought was exacerbated by high temperatures.

“These last five years in California were much warmer than you’d expect just based on the drought alone, and the reason is because the globe’s overall temperature has been warming,” he told ABC News. “California’s relationship with water is one where they either have too much or too little. So California goes through swings very rapidly. That’s what made this drought in California so rare … [it’s] very rare to get five dry years in a row.”

He added, “Global warming did not cause this drought but nevertheless had a measuring amplifying effect.”

Flooding warnings were in effect Tuesday in Northern and Central California after storms wreaked havoc on the Golden State last weekend.

In Modesto, police went door to door evacuating residents as floodwaters rose. In San Jose, firefighters jumped on inflatable rafts to rescue two people trapped by a roaring river.

More than 2 inches of rain were recorded at the San Francisco International Airport on Monday. Since October, San Francisco has seen 25.6 inches of rain — nearly 2 inches more than the city usually gets in an entire year.

This extreme weather in Northern California came after powerful rain moved its way up the California coast; the rain first pounded San Diego and Los Angeles, stranding drivers in their cars and contributing to the deaths of least five people.

The latest drought outlook from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center “shows drought in Southern California likely to resolve and drought in the Central Coast region of California as persistent but improving.”

After this incredibly wet winter, Williams said, he considers the drought over; trees that survived the drought will likely begin recovering, and lakes are near capacity, he explained.

Michael Dettinger, a U.S. Geological Survey hydrologist and a researcher at the University of California at San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, agrees with Williams’ assessment.

“I believe that the drought is over at this point,” he told ABC News. “If groundwater levels were lower than they should be because of the drought, then we wouldn’t need to say it’s over. But groundwater levels are down because of overpumping that’s been going on … for 50 to 70 years. To me, that’s not drought — that’s just a long-term imbalance of how we use water.”

David Feldman, a UC Irvine professor of planning, policy and design, said he won’t know if the drought is over until May, when the state’s rainy season ends.

“If I were regulator working for the state water board, I’d probably lean on the conservative side,” he said.

He added, “Things can dry out quickly. You can have a warm spell. You can have a warm period that melts snowpack in the [Sierra Nevada]. I think in May they’ll have a good sense of if we can declare this thing over.”

Williams considers groundwater pumping — pulling water out of the ground, much of it by farmers so their crops can grow in dry conditions — a major issue in droughts.

Groundwater is “essentially taking away from future water reserves to survive this current drought,” he said.

“If we take groundwater out of the ground and we don’t put water back in to replace it, then that is an unsustainable approach to the use of a very valuable resource,” Williams said. “As we continue to reduce drought effects by pulling water out of the ground, we’re stealing from the future. And so without prescribing any recommendation, I will say that the California government is beginning to try to regulate groundwater use … The point of doing that is to try to find a more sustainable approach to using that valuable resource.”

Dettinger said groundwater was originally treated as a local issue. Now state lawmakers are enacting laws to improve how groundwater is monitored and managed.

“That’s I think one of the biggest things that came out of the drought, and it’s a good thing. The other big thing that came out of the drought is water use restrictions and efficiency requirements were instituted,” he said. “If we use less water, there will be more flexibility to carry us through droughts.”

California’s water comes from three main sources: snowpack, reservoirs and aquifers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Californians use an estimated 108 gallons of water per person on average every day, the EPA said.

Since 2012, the Golden State has endured not only record high temperatures but also record low levels of snowpack and precipitation, according to CaliforniaDrought.org, a project of the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit that researches solutions to freshwater issues, in Oakland.

The drought has hit rural communities harder than urban and suburban communities, which are better able to diversify their water sources, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Most farming relies on irrigation, which accounts for approximately 80 percent of California’s human water use, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. In 2015 farmers had about 50 percent less surface water because of the drought; they pumped more groundwater to make up the difference but still had 10 percent less water than usual, and farm sector losses reached nearly $ 2 billion, according to the institute.

Drought can be noxious to the environment. Wildfires could become more prevalent, and as many as 18 fish species could become extinct if the current drought continues, the Public Policy Institute of California said.

Brown has issued a series of executive orders to help the state cope with the drought, the most recent mandating “continued, long-term water savings as drought persists.”

Nancy Vogel of the California Natural Resources Agency told ABC News that the governor will consider many factors when he revisits the emergency statewide drought declaration in coming weeks — including groundwater, snow pack and reservoir levels.

This winter’s rain “doesn’t come all the time,” Dettinger said. “The worst thing we can do is forget about droughts just because it’s wet right now.”

He added, “Going forward, we definitely want to get a handle on the groundwater use because that is the piece that a winter like this can’t even fix. We’re going to have to fix it on our end by monitoring how much water we take. I would like to see them stop being called drought restrictions and call them sustainability restrictions.”

Feldman said it’s important to prepare for a drought before one is declared. He recommends that the U.S. follow Australia’s example by harvesting rainwater and recycling wastewater.

Most of all, he urged Americans not to take the nation’s water for granted.

“Droughts are not just limited to California and the Southwest,” Feldman said. “Other areas of the U.S. have been through periods of water stress and drought from time to time. We want to do everything we can … to protect our water, to conserve it … to recycle it if we can, just to treat it more wisely than we have in the past.”

ABC News’ Morgan Korn, Jeff Costello, Lindsey Jacobson, Max Golembo and Melissa Griffin contributed to this report.

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Mike Gundy’s son was so close to making his dad shave his awesome mullet

And yet, so far.

Joe Dirt, David Bowie, Mike Gundy.

It is that pantheon of fine men who have chosen to don the most duplicitous of follicle arrangements. The mullet is that of style and sophistication, despite what you may think about the class of males that typically sport them. At the same time: business in the front, and party in the back. The modern male can be both things at once when wearing this haircut, truly a renaissance man.

Lately, Oklahoma State’s head coach has worn the mullet on the sideline, and it’s gotten a fair amount of attention. It all started after a bet with one of his sons.

And it’s since morphed into the most iconic sporting ‘do of our time. Gundy even went on Sportscenter and went mullet-y-mullet with Barry Melrose.

Now Gundy’s mullet is an Oklahoma State institution.

But we were oh so close to losing this treasured noggin salad.

At SB Nation, we are all for the scholastic pursuits of young men and women, but this glorious hairstyle must live on.

Gundy’s oldest son has his own opinion about whether the grades have any bearing on the mullet at all.

I hope so, Gavin. I really do.

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Microsoft launches Skype Lite for India

Microsoft has launched Skype Lite, a new version of the video and voice-calling app designed for the Indian market. The download weighs in at 13MB, and the app is designed to work better on 2G or unstable connections, making it more reliable in many parts of India.

Microsoft says Skype Lite will consume less battery power and run smoothly even on old Android phones, and there’s a mode that reduces data usage in video calls. The app works with SMS, too, and is available in nine languages.

Microsoft is also integrating Aadhaar, the 12-digit national identification number system widely used in India, directly into Skype Lite as a way for people to securely identify themselves. The data can be accessed for verification during a call and…

Continue reading…

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Lindsay Lohan says she was profiled at airport while wearing headscarf

Lindsay Lohan has said she was “racially profiled” recently while wearing a headscarf at the airport.

During an interview Tuesday on “Good Morning Britain,” Lohan said she was stopped by an unnamed woman at London’s Heathrow Airport after flying in from Turkey ultimately en route to New York.

“She opened my passport and saw ‘Lindsay Lohan’ and started immediately apologizing, but then said, ‘Please take off your headscarf,’” the 30-year-old actress said.

In the clip shared by “Good Morning Britain,” Lohan didn’t say whether the woman was an airline, airport or security employee of any kind, though a representative for the actress told ABC News it was somebody at the security checkpoint right before passengers put their luggage through the X-ray system.

In response to a request for comment, an airport spokesperson told ABC News, “Heathrow respects the cultural and religious needs of all passengers traveling through the airport. We work hard to provide our passengers with great service while ensuring everyone remains safe and secure.”

Lohan said of the request, “I [took it off], it’s OK.”

She continued: “But what scared me was in that moment, how would another woman who doesn’t feel comfortable taking off her headscarf feel? That was really interesting to me.”

Lohan couldn’t speak to why she was stopped, but said “it was jarring” and that she had never been stopped before.

“It was strange,” she said. “I’m from New York, I’m born and raised there so, I was a little intimidated.”

The “Mean Girls” star added that actresses like Audrey Hepburn used to wear scarves on their head and that “my red hair doesn’t exactly not stand out. … I was doing it because I was leaving Turkey and out of respect for certain countries that I go to … when I see certain people I feel more comfortable acting the same way as the other women, that’s just a personal respect issue for me that I have.”

According to British travel regulations, passengers wearing headgear for religious reasons have the right to “ask for it to be checked using a hand-held scanner” so they don’t have to remove it.

When asked earlier in the interview if she would convert to Islam, she replied, “I do study [the Quran], nothing is confirmed yet.”

Lohan called the faith a “solace” and said she was studying other faiths as well. She added that her sister is Buddhist and that any religion is a personal belief. “I don’t want to speak on something I haven’t finished yet,” she said, adding the faith feels “like it’s a family to me … it calms me.”

Asked about President Donald Trump, Lohan said, “At the end of the day, he is the president right now. So, what’s the point of picking on someone instead of just seeing what they’re capable of, or not capable of,” though she added that she disagrees with certain “policies.”

“People are making it overly dramatic,” she said. “I do think his Twitter needs to be taken away.”

ABC News’ Joseph Simonetti contributed to this report.

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NBC renews ‘Days of Our Lives’ for a 52nd season

Karen Butler
Feb. 21 (UPI) — The beloved soap opera “Days of Our Lives” has been renewed for a 52nd season.
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Hundreds of DC Zika virus tests to be re-examined after 'technical issues'

Officials at a Washington D.C. public health lab confirmed to ABC News that they are retesting hundreds of samples from people in the area for Zika virus over concerns about the accuracy of the original test results.

Already, samples taken from two pregnant women, who originally tested negative for the virus, have now tested positive for likely Zika infection.

The District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences Public Health Laboratory has tested hundreds of people, mainly pregnant women, for the Zika virus since last year.

Yesterday, officials from the lab announced that after identifying “technical issues” with the Zika tests in December and a subsequent review of the tests, they would be retesting hundreds of specimens for signs of the virus collected during the second half of last year.

A spokesperson for the lab clarified to ABC News that “calculation and formulation errors” led to officials stopping and reviewing the Zika tests.

In total, 409 specimens that originally tested negative, including 294 from pregnant women, have been sent for retesting. The specimens from pregnant women were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and those from men and non-pregnant women were sent to public health labs approved by the CDC. It often takes two to three weeks to receive test results that could indicate a likely Zika infection. Currently, two of 62 samples that were sent to the CDC for additional testing, and then further confirmation testing, were positive for antibodies that would indicate a possible Zika infection.

The test looks for antibodies that indicate a current or past infection from a flavivirus, a family of viruses that includes Zika. The CDC is treating the patients who tested positive as though they tested positive for the Zika virus out of caution and for monitoring.

Currently, only specimens obtained between July 14, 2016 and December 14, 2016 will be reexamined, since those collected before that date were already tested by the CDC.

Dr. Christopher Zahn, vice president of practice activities for The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), called the testing issue a “very unfortunate situation” and said it is critical that patients get updated results quickly in case they need to get extra prenatal or post-partum care.

“The CDC has prioritized these lab retests and, as they are completed, it is critical that patients are informed of the updated results so they can follow-up appropriately based on current clinical recommendations,” Zahn said in a statement. “ACOG and the CDC have been in contact and continue to consult and collaborate and will issue any additional necessary information.”

The issue should serve as a reminder that “Zika is still a very serious public health crisis,” he said, and that the public, as well as doctors and health officials, should remain vigilant.

“ACOG will continue to work closely with obstetric providers and offer the most up-to-date clinical guidance,” he added.

Lab officials said they expect to have all retested sample results back in the next four weeks.

Zika infection in adults often has mild symptoms such as fever, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis, according to the CDC, and approximately one in five people infected with the virus shows symptoms. Severe complications from Zika that require hospitalization are rare, and most people are over the worst of the symptoms after a week, according to the CDC.

In pregnant women, the virus has been found to be associated with fetal development issues and can cause birth defects including microcephaly, which is characterized by an abnormally small head.

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