350,000 without power as winter storms pound Northeast, California: Live weather updates

Written by on March 15, 2023

The heavy snow, rain and gale-force winds from two storms that slammed the Northeast and California eased Wednesday but still threatened havoc to both coasts with flooding, power outages and travel woes.

Both regions were bracing for more snow, rain and other wintry weather throughout the day on Wednesday, although most winter storm warnings were expected to be lifted through the day.  

The dig-out had begun in places such as Peterborough, New Hampshire, and Ashby, Massachusetts, where almost 3 feet of heavy, wet snow fell. At least 2 feet fell in parts of northern New York and the Catskill Mountains, the National Weather Service said.

Meanwhile, parts of northern and central California battered by the latest “atmospheric river” could see additional snow accumulations on Wednesday, the weather service said. California has been the target of 10 atmospheric rivers in recent months – long plumes of moisture from the Pacific Ocean – and powerful storms fueled by Arctic air that produced blizzard conditions.

“This potent storm is expected to produce heavy mountain snow and gusty winds from the Sierra to the central/northern Rockies,” weather service forecaster Paul Ziegenfelder said Wednesday.


►Many of the hundreds of districts that closed schools Tuesday reopened on Wednesday, although many were operating on delayed schedules.

►New York, Vermont and Massachusetts were the three Northeast states that recorded 3 feet of snow. 

►An inflatable sports arena dome collapsed in Goffstown, New Hampshire, after 15 inches of snow. No injuries were immediately reported.

►Several cows were killed when a barn collapsed at a dairy farm in Dracut, Massachusetts. The owners of Shaw Farm said no staff members were hurt.

WHAT IS A NOR’EASTER? Storms can batter East Coast with snow, impact millions of people

WHAT IS THE POLAR VORTEX? In-depth look at how it can affect winter weather in the US.

Michael Barbieri, 52, shovels snow from his driveway and sidewalk before going to work, Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Pittsfield, Mass. The storm dumped heavy, wet snow on parts of the Northeast, causing tens of thousands of power outages.

Thousands without power; air traffic improving

More than 170,000 homes and businesses across New York and New England were still without power as of Wednesday afternoon, and more than 180,000 were in the dark in California, most of them in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Unitil, which provides electricity and natural gas in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine, was expecting a “multiday restoration effort,” spokesman Alec O’Meara warned.

In California, “the most intense part of the storm has mostly passed,” Pacific Electric & Gas tweeted. “Crews are working through challenging conditions to restore customers safely and as quickly as possible.”

Almost 2,000 flights were delayed or canceled in Boston Logan, LaGuardia and New Jersey’s Newark airports Tuesday as the winter storm pounded the Northeast. As of early Wednesday, more than 250 flights had been delayed or canceled at New York’s LaGuardia and Kennedy airports alone.

70-mph winds, evacuations in California

Almost 27,000 Californians had been under evacuation orders Tuesday because of flooding and landslide risks. On the central coast, workers hauled truckloads of rocks to plug a broken river levee amid steady rain and wind. Damaging winds with gusts topping 70 mph blew out windows, and there were numerous reports of falling trees. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Tuesday for three additional counties: Alpine, Orange and Trinity. They join 40 counties already declared in a state of emergency since a line of intense winter storms began rolling through the state last month. At Newsom’s request, President Joe Biden issued a presidential emergency declaration last week authorizing federal assistance to support state and local storm response. 

Winter storm rocks New York, New England  

A winter storm warning was lifted Wednesday morning in Pennsylvania, New York and parts of New England, where additional snow accumulations of up to 10 inches were expected. Winds in the region were expected to gust up to 45 mph.  

The National Weather Service warned that travel in the area could still be difficult, and the weight of snow on tree branches was expected to cause more power outages. If people must travel, they should keep an extra flashlight, food and water in their vehicles, officials advised.  

Some New England residents were astonished at the depth of the snow: “It just snowed and snowed and snowed,” said Geoff Settles, a supervisor at a manufacturer who lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. “My wife and I were helping some of the neighbors dig out. Literally, we had to shovel five and six different times just to keep it from being basically up to our chest.”

Settles, who grew up in Leominster, Massachusetts, remembered blizzards there in the late 1970s. “I would say this is the most snow I’ve seen all my life,” he said Wednesday.

Freeze warnings, advisories hit the South  

Freezing temperatures blanketed a stretch of the Southeast from Arkansas to the Carolinas on Wednesday morning, and another round of freezing weather was forecast for early Thursday in some states. 

A freeze warning was in effect for Thursday morning in parts of Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Temperatures as low as the middle to upper 20s were again expected, according to the National Weather Service. 

  • What’s the difference between a freeze watch and warning? A freeze watch “is issued when there is a potential for significant, widespread freezing temperatures,” according to the weather service. But a freeze warning comes when those temperatures are “expected.”

WHAT IS AN ATMOSPHERIC RIVER? These rivers of water vapor can extend thousands of miles.

WHAT DEFINES A BLIZZARD? Heavy snow and high winds expected to sweep across country.

California sees snow, flooding  

A storm that is creating an atmospheric river is spreading across the state, AccuWeather meteorologists said

More snow was expected across parts of the Golden State through late Wednesday. Snow accumulations of up to 10 inches were possible at elevations over 6,000 feet in Western Plumas County and the surrounding areas, and 20 inches was possible in areas above 8,000 feet. Winds could reach up to 70 mph.  

A flood watch was in effect through midafternoon Wednesday in parts of Los Angeles County and other sections of Southern California, and heavy rain could flood rivers and streams. The National Weather Service warned that “extensive street flooding” was likely, and mudslides and rockslides were possible.  

Contributing: The Associated Press

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