Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Major solar storm hits Earth


A severe solar storm smacked Earth with a surprisingly big geomagnetic jolt Tuesday, potentially affecting power grids and GPS tracking while pushing the colorful northern lights farther south, federal forecasters said.
In a statement released early on Wednesday, The Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado said that the geomagnetic storm had subsided. “Solar wind speed remains high, however, and G1 (Minor) storm episodes are still possible,” it said.
So far no damage from the St. Patrick ’s Day solar storm has been reported. Two blasts of magnetic plasma left the sun on Sunday, combined and arrived on Earth about 15 hours earlier and much stronger than expected, said Thomas Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center, on Tuesday.
The storm ranked a 4, called severe, on the NOAA’s scale for geomagnetic effects. It was the strongest solar storm to blast Earth since the fall of 2013. It's been nearly a decade since a level 5 storm has hit Earth.
Forecasters figured it would come late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning; instead, it arrived just before 10 a.m. EDT. They had forecast it to be a level 1.
"It's significantly stronger than expected," Berger said, on Tuesday. Forecasters had predicted a glancing blow instead of dead-on hit. Another theory is that the combination of the two storms made it worse.
The storm had the potential to disrupt power grids but only temporarily, while also causing degradation of the global positioning system, affecting tracking maps and locators.


At least 3 dead, 4 wounded in drive-by shooting at California grocery store

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At least three people were killed and four others were injured late Tuesday in a drive-by shooting outside a grocery store in Stockton, Calif.  The Stockton Record reported that one of the victims was shot outside the store and was pronounced dead at the scene. The other two victims died at local hospitals. The conditions of the wounded were not immediately released by authorities. 
Police said that two women and one man were killed in the shooting, but did not release any other identifying information. 
Fox40 reported that the shooters used more than one weapon and were still at large. Detectives from the police department's gang unit were investigating.
Dozens of people gathered in the area after the shooting, and additional police had to be called to help control the crowd.