Wet spring snow expected in northeast U.S.
PITTSBURGH, April 22 (UPI) -- Forecasters said Sunday the week could get off to a slushy mess in parts of the Northeastern United States.
Rain and snow were already falling Sunday in parts of West Virginia and western New York and Pennsylvania with more wet, cold weather on tap over the next few days.
The National Weather Service posted a winter storm warning south of Buffalo where rain was expected to change over to snow overnight.
Pittsburgh was under a winter storm watch with as much as 6 inches possible in the metro area Sunday night.
"We have a low pressure system moving up the East Coast and that is going to give us the potential for snowfall," meteorologist Kristie Kubovic, KDKA-TV, Pittsburgh, said.
"This storm will ... return with some heavier precipitation on Monday," Kubovic added. "It looks to be a rain-snow mix at this point."
Although major snowfall was unlikely at lower elevations, forecasters warned the wet heavy flakes could make driving treacherous and cause tree limbs and power lines to snap.
"On the extreme end of possibilities with the storm, areas from the mountains of West Virginia northward to parts of southern Ontario and western Quebec could resemble a war zone with great carnage to forests, wooded neighborhoods and parklands," Accuweather.com meteorologist Andy Mussoline said in a Web site posting.
Meteor's sonic boom wakes up Sierra Nevada
SACRAMENTO, April 22 (UPI) -- A meteor streaking across the sky in Northern California Sunday caused a sonic boom heard by a number of people, the National Weather Service said.
Meteorologist Craig Shoemaker said the loud bang heard across a wide area of the Sierra Nevada mountains originated with the Lyrid meteor shower, an annual phenomenon caused by debris from Comet Thatcher, which passes Earth every year.
The event occurred at 8:30 a.m. PDT and sparked calls to police agencies in at least three counties, the Sacramento Bee said.
"It went on for a while," Georgann Wilmont, who lives in the mountains near Sutter Creek, told the Bee. "We heard one big one and then there other rumblings. At first I thought maybe it was an earthquake."
Strong turnout for French election
PARIS, April 22 (UPI) -- Exit polls say voter turnout by midday Sunday was strong in France's presidential election, which pits incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy against nine challengers.
By midday, 28.29 percent of voters had cast ballots, and even though that's down from 30.88 percent at the same time during the last presidential election, The Wall Street Journal said it indicates a strong showing.
Opinion polls last week suggested Sarkozy trails front-runner Socialist Francois Hollande, 25 percent to 28 percent in an election where the economy and jobs have been key issues, CNN reported. France has had low economic growth and a 13-year high 10 percent unemployment rate.
Sarkozy told Le Figaro newspaper he would implement new strategies for economic growth and job creation, pointing out that France has seen signs of recovery this year. If he loses, he would be the 11th euro-zone head of state ousted since the sovereign-debt crisis began, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Hollande on Friday told French radio station Europe 1 that cutting the European Central Bank rate is crucial to improving the economy.
"There are two ways we can go. The first is to lower interest rates if we indeed believe this is a way to support growth. And I believe it is, and that the European Central Bank should go in that direction," Hollande said. The second way, "would be to lend directly to states themselves, rather than the chosen path, which has been to support the banks."
If no candidate wins an absolute majority in the polls, a runoff between the two front-runners would take place May 6, CNN said.
If the election goes to a runoff, polls indicate Hollande would pick up a resounding victory in the second round, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Sudan crude pipeline appears bombed out
KHARTOUM, Sudan, April 22 (UPI) -- Satellite images indicate a key oil pipeline in Sudan's Heglig region has been destroyed, analysts in the United States said Sunday.
The Satellite Sentinel Project at Harvard University said the view from space included craters that indicated the pipeline had been hit by either artillery fire or airstrikes.
Heglig has been an area of dispute between Sudan and breakaway South Sudan. Both claim sovereignty over the oil-producing region and have been engaged in sometimes fierce clashes as late as last week.
The Sentinel Project said in a written statement it remained unclear if the damage included the pipeline's critical oil-collection manifold, which is located at the junction of several smaller pipelines. Knocking out the manifold would force a halt to oil production in the area, the statement said.
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