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Michele Debczak
Michele Debczak

Yosemite Falls Has Been Revived By the Drought-Ending Winter

Michele Debczak
Michele Debczak

Some of Yosemite’s most iconic landmarks—like the Half Dome and the Grizzly Giant sequoia tree—have looked more or less the same since the park was first founded in 1890. But Yosemite Falls is constantly changing, and for the past five years, the impact of California’s drought could be seen at the site, as well as other places throughout the park. Now, after a winter of above-average snowfall, ABC 7 reports that the waterfall is the fullest it has been in years. The creeks and falls reach peak flow during spring of each year. This season the streams are especially impressive, as they’re fueled by the melting of record-breaking snowpack. There’s no better place to see a waterscape in Yosemite than at Yosemite Falls. Yosemite Falls is among the tallest waterfalls on Earth. Waters from Yosemite Creek fall a total of 2425 feet before settling into the valley below. The falls are expected to grow heavier until May, at which point they’ll taper off in the summer heat. During the park’s driest seasons, Yosemite Falls is sometimes reduced to less than a trickle.

The flow will likely last longer this season, but if visitors wish to see it at its strongest, they should plan to head to the park sometime in April or May. This upcoming weekend the park is expected to attract lots of guests: The entrance fee, normally $30, is being waived on April 22 and 23. [h/t ABC 7]

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Henrik Djärv, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
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Weather Watch
It's So Cold In One Part of Russia That People's Eyelashes Are Freezing
Henrik Djärv, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Henrik Djärv, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Oymyakon, a rural village in the eastern Russian region of Yakutia, is one of the coldest inhabited spots in the world. While some schools in the U.S. cancel classes as temperatures approach zero, schools in Oymyakon remain open in -40°F weather. But recently temperatures in the region have dropped too low even for seasoned locals to handle. As AP reports, the chill, which hit -88.6°F on January 16, is cold enough to break thermometers and freeze eyelashes.

Photos shared by residents on social media show the mercury in thermometers hovering at -70°F, the lowest temperature some are built to measure. When thermometers fail, people in Oymyakon have other ways of gauging the cold. Their uncovered eyelashes can freeze upon stepping outside. Hot water tossed in the air will also turn to snow before hitting the ground.

To Oymyakon's 500-odd citizens, the most recent cold snap is nothing out of the ordinary. Temperatures are perpetually below freezing there from late October to mid-May, and average temperatures for the winter months frequently reach −58 °F. On Tuesday, residents were advised to stay inside and stay as warm as possible. Of course, that directive wasn't enough to stop some adventurous locals from sneaking outside for selfies.

[h/t AP]

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Amazon
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Weather Watch
Heated Mats Keep Steps Ice-Free in the Winter
Amazon
Amazon

The first snow of the season is always exciting, but the magic can quickly run out when you remember all the hazards that come with icy conditions. Along with heating bills, frosted cars, and other pains, the ground develops a coat of ice that can be dangerous for pedestrians and drivers alike. Outdoor steps become particularly treacherous and many people find themselves clutching their railings for fear of making it to the bottom headfirst. Instead of putting salt down the next time it snows, consider a less messy approach: heated mats that quickly melt the ice away.

The handy devices are made with a thermoplastic material and can melt two inches of snow per hour. They're designed to be left outside, so you can keep them ready to go for the whole winter. The 10-by-30-inch mats fit on most standard steps and come with grips to help prevent slipping. A waterproof connector cable connects to additional mats so up to 15 steps can be covered.

Unfortunately, this convenience comes at a price: You need to buy a 120-volt power unit for them to work, and each mat is sold separately. Running at $60 a mat, the price can add up pretty quickly. Still, if you live in a colder place where it's pretty much always snowing, it might be worth it.

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