Nearly 400,000 Without Power Across the U.S. as Storms Pummel Both Coasts

Three feet of snow hit New England Tuesday, and California's 11th atmospheric river left 40 of its 58 counties in states of emergency.

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Workers fix a utility line Tuesday in Ballston Lake, New York.
Workers fix a utility line Tuesday in Ballston Lake, New York.
Photo: Hans Pennink (AP)

Nearly 400,000 people in the U.S. were still without power across the country Wednesday morning as wild winter weather pummeled both coasts.

According to, which collects utility data on outages, more than 196,000 people on the East Coast were facing outages, while nearly 188,000 people in California didn’t have power. Both coasts faced historic deluges—rain in the West, snow in the East.

In California, the state’s 11th atmospheric river of the season brought widespread chaos on Tuesday, as wild winds and rains caused windows to blow out and rivers to overflow. Atmospheric rivers are long bands of moisture in the sky that bring intense precipitation from the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast. With climate change, these rivers can retain more moisture, leading to more intense storms; research has shown that damages from these atmospheric rivers could triple in California by the end of the century if emissions continue as usual. What’s more, smaller storms now hold even less moisture, catching California in a pendulum swing between crazy amounts of precipitation and devastating dry spells.


Evacuation orders were issued for 27,000 people living in areas that had been previously scarred by wildfires, which increases the risk of landslides. (Research has shown that landslides after serious wildfires could become twice as likely in California by the end of the century, thanks to climate change.)

California governor Gavin Newsom declared three additional counties under a state of emergency Tuesday evening; 40 of California’s 58 counties were already under states of emergency thanks to the damage done from previous storms during this raucous winter season. Another atmospheric river is due early next week, state climatologists said at a press briefing on Monday, likely impacting a huge area from San Francisco to San Diego.


In New England and parts of upstate New York, a nor’easter dumped up to 3 feet (91 centimeters) of snow in some areas, causing widespread power outages, school cancellations, and dangerous driving conditions.

Across the region, the storm’s impact was uneven: some towns saw just a sprinkling of snow, while others were deluged. Ashby, Massachusetts was one of the places to see the most snow, getting a whopping 30 inches (76.2 centimeters).


“Even just a couple towns away, only have a couple inches, but we have all of this, and no power with a house full of kids,” resident Kelly McCuster told NBC Boston.

The National Weather Service Prediction Center said Wednesday that the region could expect another 3-8 inches of snowfall, after which the storm will begin to make its way down the East Coast. High temperatures in New England today will help to melt a lot of the snow.