Good morning. It’s Friday, March 3.
- Report shows half of California freed from drought.
- Another snowstorm forecast to arrive this weekend.
- And Sacramento woman linked to far-right terror group.
The latest assessment by federal scientists found that more than half of California is now free of drought, a stunning improvement after a week of copious precipitation. As of Tuesday, 50.9% of California was drought-free, the U.S. Drought Monitor found, up from 15.4% a week earlier and 0.5% in November. “It’s pretty amazing, the changes, not only over the past week but going back to December of 2022,” said Brad Pugh, a meteorologist. A.P. | L.A. Times
- As of Wednesday, nine of the state’s 17 major reservoirs are now above their historic average levels. In December, zero were. The Sierra snowpack is 192% of normal.
Stormy weather roundup:
- Some residents remained stranded in their homes in the San Bernardino Mountains on Thursday. The California National Guard joined the effort to dig out snowbound communities Thursday, but it could take days to get the job done, officials warned. Accuweather | LAist
- The break after this week’s storm will be brief, forecasters said Thursday. Another powerful system was poised to pummel Northern California between Saturday and Wednesday, delivering frigid temperatures, strong winds, and heavy mountain snow. @NWSSacramento
- The Sierra was buried by as much as 12 feet of fresh snow over the last week. Here’s a collection of photos showing epic walls of snow. 👉 Washington Post
“A resounding thumbs down.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he doesn’t plan to run for U.S. president in 2024, and a wide majority of Californians agree. A new poll found that 70% of the state’s voters oppose a White House bid by Newsom. Even a majority of Democrats — 54% — said he shouldn’t run, according to the survey by Quinnipiac University. Opinion was split on his job performance, with just 44% approving. Another recent poll, by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, gave Newsom a 54% favorability rating. Politico | SF Standard
Democratic mayors from San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other California cities are rallying behind a new bill that would grant more freedom to force mentally ill people into treatment. Mayor Todd Gloria, of San Diego, said he is often asked why he isn’t doing something for people “screaming at the top of their lungs” on the streets. “And I say, ‘well, they’re not a threat to themselves or to others’ — and that rings hollow,” he said. A.P. | City News Service
Federal regulators gave Pacific Gas & Electric an unusual exemption to keep California’s last nuclear plant running while the company seeks permission to stay open beyond its scheduled shutdown in 2025. The decision comes after state lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a bill to extend the life of Diablo Canyon until 2030. Energy experts have cautioned against hastily powering down Diablo, which generates about 9% of the state’s electricity, as California transitions to renewable energy. CalMatters | A.P.
California cities have eased up on lowriding in recent years, repealing bans on the celebrated tradition of cruising the boulevard in lovingly detailed Impalas that wiggle and bounce. But when National City lifted a cruising ban, the city quickly restored it after unexpectedly large crowds showed up. Lowrider supporters have now brought the fight to Sacramento, where lawmakers introduced a bill last month to ban anticruising ordinances statewide. Wall Street Journal
The “Terrorgram Collective” is at the heart of an international neo-Nazi movement that advocates deadly violence in a bid to collapse society so a white-only world can be erected in its place. The group produces propaganda valorizing the shooters behind mass killings in places like El Paso, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo, referring to them as “saints.” Its members have been unknown. But an investigative news outlet has now identified one of the main propagandists: Dallas Erin Humber, a 33-year-old woman in Sacramento. HuffPost
In January 2022, Elon Musk was at the Hawaiian island of his pal Larry Ellison.
In April, he was gallivanting around Berlin’s club scene.
In May, he was in Sao Paulo to meet with then-President Jair Bolsonaro.
An analysis found that Musk travels in his private jet far more than other billionaires, emitting an estimated 2,112 metric tons of greenhouse gas in 2022. A number of his trips were under 15 minutes. In December, he flew from Austin to Sacramento, then turned around 24 minutes later and flew right back. Bloomberg | Robb Report
On this week’s California Sun Podcast, host Jeff Schechtman talks with Kenishka Cheng, the leader of TogetherSF, a nonprofit that seeks to activate citizens to solve problems the government can’t or won’t. She argued that groups with extreme views have crowded out the voices of ordinary San Francisans. “I think that’s what’s led to our poor outcomes,” Cheng said. “Those middle voices are out of the conversation.”
Officials in Imperial Beach, which borders Mexico, have complained for years about sewage that flows from the Tijuana River across the border to its beaches. Now a study has found that the pollution has also gone airborne. Scientists used DNA sequencing to link 76% of the bacteria in Imperial Beach’s air to the sewage from Tijuana. Kim Prather, a study author, said she was shocked by the findings: “The bottom line is we don’t know what the effect is yet of inhaling this cocktail that comes out of the ocean.” S.D. Union-Tribune | CBS 8
Greta Andersen, a Danish Olympic swimming champion, died at her home in Solvang on Feb. 6. Andersen won gold in the 100-meter freestyle and silver in the 400-meter relay at the 1948 Summer Olympics. She returned home to Denmark a celebrity, but there was no money in the sport. So she settled in Long Beach to pursue open water swimming, which could be lucrative. By the end of her career, she had broken 18 world records. Bruce Wigo, former president of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, said Andersen has been called the greatest female swimmer in history. “She often beat all of the men,” he said. She was 95. N.Y. Times | Washington Post
In case you missed it
Five items that got big views over the past week:
- Stunning snow pictures and video from across California:
- A whirling column of air and water mist, known as a waterspout, formed Monday along the Lost Coast. A local, Micah Crumbaugh, caught amazing video while out on a walk. Lost Coast Outpost
- Evgeniya Chernyshova is one of the primary reasons Harvey Weinstein will be in prison for the rest of his life. Last Friday, she revealed her identity as “Jane Doe 1” in the former movie mogul’s Los Angeles rape trial. Hollywood Reporter
- The columnist Joe Eskenazi tore into a New York Times op-ed diagnosing San Francisco’s political dysfunction. Its author bemoaned that San Francisco is a one-party town. “San Francisco’s problem is not liberalism,” Eskenazi wrote. It’s incompetence, sloth, and corruption. Mission Local
- In 1945, shortly after the end of World War II, LIFE magazine published an effusive 13-page spread on “the California way of life.” LIFE.com published a look back at the article, including 43 fantastic pictures by the photographer Nina Leen.
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The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.
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