At 1:14 a.m. Tuesday morning, the vernal equinox quietly arrived, signaling the much-awaited start of spring. The vernal equinox is one of just two times during the year when the length of day and night are almost equal. (Vernal meaning “of spring” and equinox meaning “equal night”.)

A paper kite butterfly lands on a newly arrived pentas flower at the San Diego Zoo. (KEN BOHN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

To mark the day, the folks over at Google have a homepage Doodle inspired from a Finnish company, showing flora and fauna in brilliant colors.

More of your morning links below:

Texas weather

Texas braces for flooding Tuesday. Spring may have sprung, but Texas was visited Monday evening by rain, hail and at least one tornado. Thousands of people lost power. More storms are forecast for the next few days. (Associated Press)

Trayvon Martin

Federal agencies are opening an investigation into the death of an unarmed black Florida teenager. The death of Trayvon Martin has sparked outrage from both African American leaders and gun-control reformists. The Justice Department says it will conduct an investigation into Martin’s death in conjunction with the FBI. (Washington Post)

Toulouse school attacks

France on terror alert as police hunt killer. The country is on high alert after police linked a shooting in a Jewish school in Toulouse Monday with similar attacks on French soldiers a week earlier. (Global Post)

France investigating neo-Nazis for killings. French authorities say that neo-Nazis could be behind the shooting spree. (CNN)

Gunman had video camera around his neck. A witness said the attacker was wearing a “kind of filming apparatus” around his neck. (Washington Post)

Iraq bombings

A spate of car bombings in Iraq on Tuesday killed at least 36 people, despite tight security ahead of a meeting of the Arab League next week. (Washington Post)