California Sun

Happy Sunday.

Here are a few stories you missed in the California Sun over the last week.

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Sun sampler


The Sierra snowpack provides as much as a third of California's water supply.

A study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the Sierra snowpack, a vital water source for drinking and irrigation, could vanish in as soon as 25 years. Given current warming trends, the researchers projected that by the late 2040s half of the area historically covered by snow will likely have little or no snow for five straight years. By 2050, the snowless period could last 10 years. The consequences for California, the authors wrote, would be “potentially catastrophic.” S.F. Chronicle | SFist


California, it's often noted, is big.

At 163,695 square miles, it's bigger than the 12 smallest U.S. states combined. If it were a country, California would be bigger than most, ranking 59th out of 195. But to get a sense of what that means, the website True Size has a fascinating tool that lets you compare geographic regions while correcting the size distortions common when projecting a round Earth on a flat map. A few comparisons below:

Northeastern U.S.

United Kingdom.




A film restorer used artificial intelligence to enhance video captured from the point of view of San Francisco cable cars in the 1960s. The result is mesmerizing, showing the elegant buildings, cool cars, and stylish residents of what many who lived through it regard as San Francisco's greatest decade. YouTube (~3:45 mins) described the cable car routes.


Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The largest remnant of the Berlin Wall outside Germany stands along a road in Los Angeles, pictured above.

Known as the Wall allong Wilshire, the 10 barricade segments were brought to Los Angeles in 2009 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the wall's collapse. They were unveiled facing the street with both original graffiti and new artwork, including portraits of Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy. A couple years later, artists were invited to also paint the backside of the slabs — the deadly “East Berlin side” — which had remained untouched by graffiti. One artwork is ripe for interpretation: a skeletal Captain America bursting though the wall against a backdrop of fast food restaurants. | Wende Museum


Los Alamos in an undated photo.

California State Library

"It’s truly funky … not curated funk.”

So many motorists blow past the charming coastal town of Los Alamos that it's earned an unofficial name: Lost Almost. Located just off the 101 between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, Los Alamos was a prosperous stagecoach stop in the 1800s. The main drag is now lined with with tasting rooms and restaurants, but the old-timey ambiance still echoes, especially at the 141-year-old Union Hotel. Entering the saloon feels like walking into a Western movie set, with dark wood, chandeliers, and a moose head staring down from a wall. Thrillist


When Carlos Gauna began taking drone videos of marine life in Southern California waters last year, he would warn surfers about great white shark activity. But he's since realized how common — and overwhelmingly harmless — interactions between sharks and humans are. Here's a fantastic moment Gauna captured in October, as a dolphin, five sharks, and more than a dozen surfers gathered in close proximity. Stay for the 3-minute mark, when a great white approaches a paddle-boarding Orlando Bloom — yes, that Orlando Bloom. YouTube (~9:30 mins)


Some brilliant person on Twitter compiled pictures of dogs that look like celebrities. Below: Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood, William H. Macy, and John Travolta.


Thanks for reading!

The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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