Featured Natural Events 

2016 Opens with Extreme Weather, Solar Storm

As 2015 fades into history, storms are triggering chaotic weather and causing severe destruction in parts of the globe.

Here’s a closer look at areas most impacted:

United States: Historic flooding in St. Louis, Mo., forced authorities to shut down a second major highway, Interstate 55, on Thursday morning. High water rushed southward, threatening more flooding in southern Missouri and Illinois,Tennessee and Mississippi.

The flooding has left at least 20 people dead in Missouri and Illinois, mostly involving vehicles that drove onto swamped roadways.

Flooding along the Mississippi, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Meramec rivers “will have communities dealing with long-duration high water,” according to Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com.

Europe: Flood warnings remained in place in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Thursday after Storm Frank’s heavy rain and strong winds battered parts of Britain.

The government-affiliated Environment Agency said more than 6,700 homes in northern England were flooded during the last week as river levels reached all-time highs.

South America: More than 160,000 have been displaced in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil over the last week by what is being described as the heaviest floods to strike South America in 50 years, Al Jazeera reports. The floods have caused at least eight deaths, according to the news organization.

Meantime, a massive solar storm hit earth Thursday, triggering a display of Northern lights in some of the northern latitudes. It was the result of a powerful M1.9 class solar flare eruption on the sun. (Sources: USA Today, Al Jazeera and AccuWeather.)

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