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Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

A study shows the shifting winds of climate change, male cheerleaders make history, and elephant seals occupy a tourist beach.
Elephant seal.

Elephant seals have taken over a beach along California's Point Reyes National Seashore.

This week at Pacific Standard, we brought you stories on the thousands of undocumented immigrants whose court hearings were postponed by the government shutdown, the faulty logic behind President Donald Trump's conflation of weather and climate, and the hardships facing America's last uranium prospector.

But there are a number of other news developments we're keeping an eye on. Here are a few more stories we've been watching this week.

Climate Change Is Shifting the Santa Ana Winds

Climate change could cause Southern California's infamous Santa Ana winds to reach their peak later in the year, according to a new study in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Over the next 80 years, these dry, powerful, wildfire-driving winds are expected to decrease in September and October and then grow stronger in December and January.

This means wildfire season is likely to shift toward December, the researchers say. "In December, we're more likely to get back-to-back Santa Anas," Alexander Gershunov, one of the study's authors, told E&E News. "So if the fuels are dry in December, and a fire starts in Santa Ana wind conditions, it's likely to burn longer."

Male Cheerleaders Will Dance at the Super Bowl

The Los Angeles Rams will be making history when they face off against the New England Patriots this Sunday by becoming the first team to include male cheerleaders in a Super Bowl game, the Los Angeles Times reports. The 40-member cheerleading squad, the first to include men in National Football League history, has faced slurs and taunts at games and on social media.

"They're not just incredible men, they're incredible people,'' Sarah Scheade, one of the team's captains, told the Times about the squad's two male cheerleaders. "We thought it would be so special if they could represent our city."

Seals Took Over a California Beach

In an unexpected ripple from the government shutdown, elephant seals have taken over a beach along California's Point Reyes National Seashore. The seashore was closed during the shutdown, which allowed some of the area's 60 seals to move beyond their usual hangout, in favor of a spot that's usually bustling with tourists, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

At least for now, it looks like the seals will be allowed to stay in their new hangout: Winter is pupping season for elephant seals, so rather than trying to move them while they're giving birth and nursing newborns, seashore staff are currently keeping the area closed to the public. The seals enjoying these new digs gave birth to 35 pups, according to the Chronicle—one for each day of the shutdown, though that's probably just a coincidence.