Everything you need to know about El Niño — and more


Stuck at a standstill between blaring horns on a stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway through Long Beach, Calif., my 9-year-old self felt pretty sure our car was about to get swept away by the torrent of water pouring from the sky. “Mom, what’s going on?” I asked.

“It’s El Niño,” she growled.

Whoever this El Niño was, I could tell that should he and my mom ever meet face to face, it’d be best to get out of their way.

Many people who lived in California between December 1997 and May 1998 probably had similar feelings. It rained nearly continuously for the whole of February. Precipitation records were set in at least 19 stations in the state that month; Santa Barbara smashed its old high by 4.41 inches. Widespread flooding and mudslides did at least $550 million worth of damage statewide.

The first two months of 1998 were the

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Obama to create largest marine protected area ever, because bigger is better


Say what you will about the U.S., when we do something, we do it supersized.

So when Obama decides to make a marine reserve, he doesn’t just put your average patch of ocean off-limits to commercial fishing, energy exploration, and other shenanigans. No. It’s a massive portion of the Pacific that more than doubles the total amount of protected ocean. In the world. From The Washington Post:

[T]he Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument would be expanded from almost 87,000 square miles to nearly 782,000 square miles — all of it adjacent to seven islands and atolls controlled by the United States. The designation would include waters up to 200 nautical miles offshore from the territories.

“It’s the closest thing I’ve seen to the pristine ocean,” said Enric Sala, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence who has researched the area’s reefs and atolls since 2005.

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Drones chased from National Parks after series of incidents


So far this year, unmanned aircraft have terrorized bighorn sheep in Utah’s Zion National Park and crashed in front of campers trying to watch a sunset in the Grand Canyon. Now, the head ranger has had enough.

On Friday, the director of the National Park Service signed a decree saying that drones shall fly no more over the lands and waterways of the country’s parks. The order comes after a similar order last month that banned the devices from Yellowstone.

“We embrace many activities in national parks because they enhance visitor experiences with the iconic natural, historic and cultural landscapes in our care. However, we have serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks,” director Jonathan Jarvis said in a statement.

Jarvis’s statement suggests the ban will be temporary as the Parks Service attempts to create a policy to address the use of unmanned aircraft in…

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