Category Archives: California News

Severe Rainstorms Wreck California, Yet Number of Areas Remain Dry

In recent weeks, parts of California and Nevada saw a lot of flooding causing a number of deaths. Experts have dubbed the weather system, Pineapple Express, which has caused a lot of damage in areas along the river banks. In fact, climatologists did not see such a strong storm in more than a decade. As a result of the flooding, the water also reached areas, which usually remain dry in this season.


Perhaps, one of the most talked about natural calamities is the destruction of the famed Pioneer Cabin Tree, which could not resist high winds and floods. As a result, the thousand year old tree famed for its carved tunnel fell down. According to the latest press release, areas around California received massive rain as much as 4 to 8 inches in some areas forcing waters to reach areas around the national park.


Besides property damage, there were also a number of deaths reported in the local media. The cause of these deaths was directly to the severe rain storm. A women was hit by a falling tree while walking on the road. Similarly, a motorist involved in a crash on Interstate 880 in Fremont. Another motorist was drowned in the flash flood near the Oakland airport.


Videos posted online indicated water damage at the banks of Cosumnes River, southeast of Sacramento; the Napa River near St. Helena; and the south fork of the Yuba River in the Tahoe area. Major news agencies are also covering incidents where pedestrians and motorists are hampered by rising water and mud. As many roads are impassable, thousands of people in California are stuck at their houses without the electricity.


Despite heavy rains, it is also interesting that experts do not see these floods as a reprieve for drought-like conditions in certain areas of California. As such, San Joaquin Valley and the Central Coast remain severely parched. According to Michael Anderson, the state climatologist, location of the flood matter, which means that there will be a lot of areas in the vicinity, which will still not get any water. Without a doubt, such rare conditions should ring alarm bells as this may be yet another sign of the global warming climate conditions, which are often difficult to explain.


California Bids Farewell To Pioneer Cabin Tree

California might always seem to be deep in drought, but the state is home to giant forests of giant trees. One of the most famous trees in the state is Pioneer Cabin Tree, it’s an iconic giant Sequoia that is located in Calaveras Big Trees State Park. The tree is so massive, it has a walkway carved in it’s trunk for visitors to literally step inside the giant sequoia and take in its massive size. Pictures of the famous tree and information can be found here.

The tree, which is believed to be over 1,000 years old, was sadly lost during a recent storm. It seems that the storm that swept through California just a few weeks ago was far too much for the tree to withstand and it toppled. According to a volunteer at Calaveras Big Trees Association, the tree was in rough shape prior to the storm. It was barely hanging on to life, there was only a single branch up top that was alive, and the tree itself had become very brittle and was beginning to lift up from the ground.

The tree had a massive 32 foot diameter that was a popular photo stop even before the tunnel was carved in it. It is a giant sequoia, a cousin to the coastal redwoods also found on the west coat, and know to be some of the largest trees in volume that have been known to live up to 3,000 years. The tree was hollowed out in the 1880s, a move made to compete with a similar tree that is found in Yosemite National Park. The tunnel won the tree a lot of attention and for a long period of time, even cars were able to drive through it’s massive trunk.

It was later discovered that the destruction of the trunk, the thing that made it a tourist attraction, had permanently damaged the tree. Due to the huge cut in the trunk, the tree could no longer support the growth at the top of the tree. The opening also reduced the trees ability to resist fire, furthering endangering it. It was only a matter of time before the tree would see it’s final days, and a storm just weeks ago took the tree down forever.



Is the California Drought Over?

After battling dry conditions for five consecutive years, a significant portion of California is no longer classified as being in a drought. Recent storms have been pounding the West Coast, bringing relief to the region.


Scientists have calculated that about 42% of the state has emerged from begin in a drought, with only 7% of the area being abnormally dry. This percentage contrasts with 84% of the state being in a drought just three months prior.


The chronic dry conditions have compelled many municipalities to enact water usage rules. For example, some residents can only water their lawns on certain days, and others have their water usage regulated by a meter. During the summers, brown lawns took over where green grass was once the norm. This winter, the landscape is sure to be healthy and lush.


Up to 20 inches of rain and 12 feet of snow have fallen this season. That heavy snowpack will remain on the mountains in the Sierra Nevadas, melting this spring into run-offs in rivers and creeks.


While people have certainly been waiting for this precipitation, the rain has caused some problems. Around 2,000 people in Sacramento County and 3,000 people in Sonoma County have been asked to evacuate due to rising waters. In some places, rivers simply cannot handle inches upon inches of rain in a short period, and the water overflows into the streets. Anyone in lower elevations is prone to flooding, and it can be difficult for emergency workers to reach them in an emergency.


Many Californians, though, will gladly welcome the rain and snow after wishing for it for so many years.


Famous Pioneer Cabin Tree Falls During Winter Storms in California

Severe storms last week claimed a famous victim: a giant sequoia known as the “tunnel tree” or the “Pioneer Cabin Tree,” was toppled by flooding and winds. The iconic tree was known to generations as one of a few giant trees with a large tunnel carved through it’s trunk. Back in the 1880s, these tunnels were cut to originally let horses and wagons pass through. The large sequoia, a species which is estimated to be able to live thousands of years, continued to thrive despite what had been done. Cars were still able to pass through the trees until recently when it was restricted to only hikers.


The tree was one of many of the giant sequoias in Calaveras Big Trees State Park located just southeast of Sacramento. This tree was one of the last of the living tunnel-tree sequoias, the rest of them have either toppled over and died within the last few decades. One famous tree, the Wawona tree in Yosemite, fell in 1969 during a storm as well. It was estimated to be at least 2,100 years old. Three other tunnel trees still exist in California, but they are carved out of coastal redwoods and are owned and managed by private land owners.


According to the National Park Services, giant sequoia trees are very durable and disease resistant. Storms are one of the few things that can actually cause them to fall. They are also very resistant to fire and, in fact, seem to become resilient after fires. They also need fire to help them reproduce by preparing the soil with minerals and reducing competition. These trees grow to be some of the largest trees in the world with the largest tree being the “General Sherman Tree” which is 275 feet tall and 36 feet in diameter.


What We can Learn from Alan Thicke’s Heart Attack

Two days ago, many fans of 1980s television were stunned to learn that the father from “Growing Pains,”Alan Thicke had suffered a massive heart attack and died while he was playing ice hockey with his son, Carter. There are many reports that say Thicke was in perfect health, or so he seemed. Television’s most popular doctor, Dr. Oz decided to shed some light on that tragedy and give us some advice on what to do in a similar situation. Dr. Oz thinks that the freezing temperatures of the ice rink could have contributed to the heart attack. Dr. Oz recommends that anyone who seems to think he is having a heart attack should first call 911 to go to the hospital, lie down, and chew on an adult aspirin. Being in a reclining position can help the body absorb the aspirin that will thin out the blood.


Dr. Oz says that heart attacks happen more frequently in the winter than any other time of the year because of the cold weather and the more sedentary lifestyle. Cold weather can cause the blood vessels to contract and make it difficult for the blood and oxygen to get to the heart muscle. Doctors have made strides in learning how to prevent heart attacks, or at least decrease their fatality. Unfortunately, with Alan Thicke as an example, the medical profession still has more research to do.


Reports said that Thicke was responsive and seemed to be fine before he passed away. According to Dr. Oz, a person can be responsive if the vessel temporarily reopens, allowing some oxygen and blood to flow. Another scenario is, that while the person is resting, the heart can begin to tolerate the decrease in blood flow. When the blood vessels close, the patient may have to sit up a little to accommodate the blood vessels. This can cause pulmonary edema and an arrhythmia that can cause the blood cells’ energy to become unbalanced and then short out.


While there’s no age limit to when someone should give up winter sports, there are some other ways a person can prevent a heart attack. Make sure you get complete physicals every year. If you drink or smoke, stop it. Get plenty of rest.



California to Boost Energy Efficiency in Computers and Monitors

People love to spend a lot of time on their computers. Others really don’t want to spend significant time in front of a screen, but their job requires this of them. While both reasons for staying glued to a desk chair are different, the end result is the same: the computers are draining up power. The state of California has taken notice of energy efficiency related to computers and is putting forth regulations.


Both computers and monitors are going to be required to meet efficiency standards. The goal here is to cut down on energy consumption when the computers are not being actively used. The “touch and go” approach to computer usage can lead to a drop in energy efficiency. Someone working on a computer may stop for a bit and allow the device to go idle. The screensaver will prevent burn-in so no harm done. Well, some harm is being done since energy is being drained by a computer that really isn’t being used.


The regulations are intended to cut down on energy consumption and will slowly be phased in over a three-year period starting in 2018. Likely, a lot of consumers are going to purchase computers before these regulations go into effect. No, that is not because they do not want to conserve or preserve the environment. They might be worried about the choices of computers being sold in the Golden State once the regulations have been approved.


Manufacturers are not going to make all their models appropriate for the California area. While California is a large consumer market and the state is hugely populous, there are other parts of the country in which manufacturers sell their wares. Manufacturing may only choose to modify a select number of models specifically for the California market. This is one reason why the three-year plan is put into effect. The 36 months allows manufacturers to make plans to effectively release products into the state. Sellers in the state do not end up being blindsided by unexpectedly having less stock available to them.


Taking steps to improve efficiency is clearly a major priority of the government in California. Regulators and legislators, however, do not want to harm any segment of the state’s economy. Doing so would bring forth other problems.


Uber, Driverless Cars, and an Unhappy California DMV

Uber has shaken up the transportation industry by perfecting the business model of booking a ride from a fellow traveler. Really, those fellow travelers are people looking for full or part-time incomes through performing taxi services in the form of ride sharing. Out on the west coast, Uber is taking its business model to the next, futuristic level. The driver is being removed from the equation and replaced with an automated car. All of this is occurring to the great chagrin of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.


No, Uber is not going exclusively with driverless cars but the testing process is in motion. San Francisco is the city in which the testing has been extended. Testing originally debuted in the Pittsburgh area. And no, the officials in the city of San Francisco are not entirely thrilled with the presence of driverless cars on the roads. At least not without a permit.


Therein lies the issue of contention between Uber and the powers-that-be. Permits require certain qualifications to be met and fees to be paid. Both of those items do benefit the state of California. Uber, however, contends that autonomous vehicles — as the state of California refers to driverless cars — can be operated without a permit. Uber is going forward with keeping the cars on the road.


Uber’s rationale is based on the rules regarding the technology in Tesla vehicles. Uber’s stance is, since Tesla owner don’t need a permit, Uber’s autonomous cars won’t require a permit either.


Where is all this headed? Apparently, it is headed to court. The California DMV is threatening legal action. How that will play out in the state courts is anyone’s guess. A horrible-case scenario could lead to Uber and Tesla cars requiring permits. Tesla owners probably would be more than a bit annoyed at being an unfortunate third-party victim of a disastrous lawsuit. As others who have been in similar situations will attest – it happens.


Uber’s desire to launch self-driving cars is a bit odd. The company is already doing well as a ride sharing service. Why invite controversy and lawsuits? Clearly, the company feels there is a profitable benefit to going this route. Dragged out lawsuits do not exactly help profit margins though. Uber doesn’t seem to be backing down though.


Could California Be Getting Rid Of The Tampon Tax?

A California lawmaker is trying again to repeal the California state’s sales tax on women’s menstrual products. This is not the first attempt, earlier this year California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a similar bill.

Cristina Garcia (D) is an Assembly member who proposed two bills on Monday that would help to ease the financial burden that has been placed on women when purchasing menstrual products. Read more about Garcia and what she is lobbying for here. The first bill, AB 9, would make these products including tampons, pads, and other menstrual related products, exempt from sales tax. The second bill, AB 10, would actually make these incredibly necessary products available for free in private and public schools as well as colleges and shelters.

Garcia has been actively fighting this tax often referring to it as unjust, unfair, and basically sexist. She explains that every single month of a woman’s life for an average of 40 years, women are being taxed simply for being women. She goes on to claim that the sales tax on these products basically says that periods are a luxury for women while simultaneously being told it is something that should be hidden and women should be ashamed of it. She is pushing to not only make these products more affordable, but to make them free for women and young girls who financially struggle to afford these very necessary products.

Garcia sponsored a bill very similar to this in a past legislative session. The bill received unanimous support in both California chambers of legislature as well as a strong backing from the California tax board, however, when it got to Gov. Jerry Brown he vetoed the bill due to concerns of the budget.

According to an estimate from Garcia’s office, women in California are taxed roughly $20 million per year on these products. The previous budget concerns for California still exist, and a $20 million loss is massive in perspective. It would take some creative thinking to find a way to make up that money.

Meanwhile, the bill is gaining steam in other states like New York and Illinois. Some states have even gone so far as to eliminate the tax on feminine products already. Meanwhile, Garcia will continue to fight for what she deems fair. Currently, a complaint has been filed with the California Superior Court that argues that this tax violates the equal protection clause found in the 14th Amendment.



California Gov. Jerry Brown Vows To Fight Trumps Dismissal Of Global Warming

President-elect Trump has made a few enemies with his downplayed approach on climate change, and California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is one of them. During the campaign season, Trump seemed to mostly disavow the idea that global warming was a real thing. Now that the campaign is over, he has faltered a bit stating that maybe humans do have some connectivity to the changing climate, but he still has not stepped forward to actively agree that it is a real thing. A detailed list of his stance can be found here along with direct quotes from Trump himself.

Gov. Jerry Brown intends to do whatever it takes to protect climate change research conducted in his state. Brown recently addressed the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco stating “We’ve got the scientists, we’ve got the lawyers, and we’re ready to fight.” Brown also had plenty to say when it came to Trump’s idea to cut NASA’s climate research program in order to crack down on what Trump calls “politicized science”. Brown claims that if Trump turns off the satellites, he is prepared for his state to launch their own satellites and collect the data themselves.

There is even a fear that the Trump administration may try to alter or take down the federal government’s climate data found online and scientists are going to great lengths to copy the information onto private independent servers. Brown argued for them stating that his state already has a lot of databases, if necessary, California will take on even more. He even promised to protect any laboratories within the public University of California system that are preforming climate research, he is prepared to fight any political interference and promises that those labs will continue to output honest independent science.

Brown also expressed his displeasure at Trump’s new nomination to head the Department of Energy, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R). He criticized the Texas economy and went on to discuss how California has had a long history of embracing renewable energy and stressed how much his states economy has grown under the newer strict environmental regulations. He went on to state that California has more sun than Texas does oil and California is going to use that sun.

Brown may have beef with Perry on a more personal level, in 2013 a radio ad aired that had then Gov. Rick Perry encouraging California based businesses to move to Texas. Brown wasn’t happy and rather rudely lambasted the ad.

So far, Trump has not taken office and has not made any moves to remove any information from any databases. He has spent the majority of his time building his new cabinet and preparing to take office in the White House in January. When that time comes, everyone will wait and see if he is as big of a threat as Brown is making him out to be.


A Magnitude-6.5 Earthquake Off Coast of Northern California

On the morning of Thursday, December 8, 2016, around 6:50 a.m. PT., the U.S. Geological Survey reported that a 6.5 earthquake had struck at a depth of about 7.5 miles on the Pacific Ocean floor off the West Coast at the north end of the San Andreas Fault.


The quake was centered approximately 279 miles west northwest of Sacramento and 102 miles west of Ferndale. Light shaking was felt from several dozen miles south of San Francisco to east central Oregon. This quake was followed by a 4.7 magnitude temblor/aftershock at 8:32 a.m.


However, the earthquake did not disturb even one bulb on Ferndale’s tallest living lit Christmas tree in the nation, a giant Sitka spruce decorated with strings of 900 to 1,000 colored lights. The tree is an annual holiday tradition since 1934 in this quaint Victorian village.


The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center stated that no tsunami threat was expected from the initial earthquake, and there had been no reports of injuries or major damage. There was some inconvenience for commuters in the San Francisco Bay Area because BART trains moved at a temporarily reduced speed in the temblor’s aftermath, but that only led to delays of about 10 minutes.


CEO of the California Earthquake Authority, Glenn Pomeroy, stated that if a 6.5 quake had occurred on a Bay Area or Los Angeles fault, there could have been billions in property damage and injuries or even deaths.


California’s north coast is among the most seismically active areas and had experienced smaller temblors in the days before the magnitude-6.5 one. The offshore area had experienced a magnitude-6.9 temblor in March 2014 and two earthquakes with magnitudes over 5.0 weeks apart in January 2015.


The Pacific Coast or West Coast is the description of the coastline where the Western United States meets the northern Pacific Ocean. It refers to the area defined on the east by the Cascade Range, Mojave Desert, and Sierra Nevada and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. Census calls the five states of California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Hawaii the Pacific States division. However, the Pacific or West Coast of the contiguous U.S. in this case would be just the first three states.