March 14, 2023 - Snow, rain and flooding pummel US on both coasts

By Adrienne Vogt, Mike Hayes, Elise Hammond and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 11:50 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023
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7:13 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023

Glass fell from window of San Francisco high-rise due to high winds, fire department says

From CNN's Joe Sutton

A frame from a video provided by the San Francisco Fire Department shows the broken window.
A frame from a video provided by the San Francisco Fire Department shows the broken window. (San Francisco Fire Department)

Emergency responders are on the scene at a high-rise building in downtown San Francisco after glass from a window fell due to high winds, San Francisco Fire Captain Jonathan Baxter told CNN.

“One window has broken and fallen out in several pieces, falling onto the ground; and a second is cracked,” Baxter said. “At this time, we are suspecting this is wind-related.”

Both of the windows are located on the 43rd floor at the former Bank of America building which is a 52-story high-rise, Baxter said.

There are no injuries and officials are not allowing anyone on the streets surrounding the building, Baxter noted.

In a tweet, the fire department warned residents to shelter in place due to the falling glass.

High winds have been reported across northern California on Tuesday. San Francisco International Airport reported lengthy ground stops due to sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph with gusts fairly consistently topping 60 mph.

7:00 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023

More than 130,000 customers in Santa Clara County are without power due to storm

From CNN's Dave Alsup

The ongoing storm system impacting the state of California has left nearly 360,000 customers without power as of Tuesday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.US.

Santa Clara County, which is south of San Francisco, is experiencing the majority of the outages with 130,447 customers without power, the data from PowerOutage.US said. 

6:52 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023

Up to 3 feet of snow has fallen in parts of the Northeast

From CNN Meteorologist Taylor Ward

A significant portion of the Northeast, from upstate New York through New England, has received 1 to 2 feet of snow in the past 24 hours, with some locations topping 3 feet.  

The snow will remain moderate to heavy in many of these same areas through the evening before the snow begins to taper off overnight. Although minimal additional snowfall is expected after sunrise Wednesday, winds will be slower to ease. Areas from the mid-Atlantic through the entire Northeast will experience wind gusts of 30 to 45 mph through Wednesday afternoon.

Top snow totals from the National Weather Service as of 6 pm EDT:

  • 33” Hawley, Massachusetts
  • 33” Greenville, New Hampshire
  • 32.4” Marlboro, Vermont
  • 32” Rowe, Massachusetts 
  • 31” Indian Lake, New York
5:47 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023

What you need to know about atmospheric rivers — and how climate change is making them worse

From CNN's Jennifer Gray

Millions of people in California were under flood alerts Tuesday as an atmospheric river makes its way over a region already drenched by rain.

An atmospheric river is a plume of moisture that helps carry saturated air from the tropics to higher latitudes, delivering unrelenting rain or snow. Typically 250 to 375 miles wide, atmospheric rivers can stretch more than a thousand miles long, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says.

Atmospheric rivers aren't a new phenomenon — in the western US, they account for 30% to 50% of annual precipitation, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, the eastern half of the US also experiences atmospheric rivers, with moisture pulled from the Gulf of Mexico.

While atmospheric rivers are an incredibly important source of rainfall, they can also bring flash flooding, mudslides and landslides, sometimes killing people and destroying property.

Impact of climate change: As the world warms, the atmosphere can hold more moisture – which will lead to rainier atmospheric river events.

“It’s expected that as the air temperatures increase, the air can hold more water vapor, and therefore any storms that are comprised of water vapor will have more of it,” said Jason Cordeira, associate professor of meteorology at Plymouth State University.

Atmospheric rivers will be “significantly longer and wider than the ones we observe today, leading to more frequent atmospheric river conditions in affected areas,” a NASA-led study found. The frequency of the most intense atmospheric rivers will likely double, the study found.

5:37 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023

Ground delay continues at San Francisco International Airport due to high winds

From CNN’s Joe Sutton 

A ground delay remains in effect at San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday afternoon due to winds, airport spokesman Doug Yakel said.

“This has caused 38 flight cancellations and 345 flight delays, which is about 33% of flights at SFO,” Yakel said. 

The average delay is 155 minutes, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The airport has been reporting sustained winds of 40 to 50 mph with gusts fairly consistently topping 60 mph over the past 3 to 4 hours, according to CNN Weather. 

The highest gust today has been a hurricane-force 74 mph, occurring just before noon local time.

CNN Weather’s Taylor Ward contributed to this report.

5:46 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023

More than 230 people were rescued from flood waters in the Pajaro area in California, sheriff says

Military vehicles drive through floodwaters on Tuesday, March 14, in Pajaro, California.
Military vehicles drive through floodwaters on Tuesday, March 14, in Pajaro, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

More than 239 people have been rescued in the Pajaro area in Monterey County, California, after heavy rain created flooding and hazardous conditions on the west coast, Monterey County Sheriff Tina Nieto said.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, she said officials use high-water vehicles and boats to perform those rescues. More than 2,000 people have also been evacuated from the Pajaro area which was hit hard by flooding, Nieto said.

“We’re asking people to please leave,” she said.

Nieto added that the sheriff’s office does not have the resources to force people to evacuate, but pleaded for residents to listen to warnings and guidance, stressing the danger of affected areas.

She cautioned people still in Pajaro not to drink the water, adding that environmental officials are working to make sure it is safe.

For people who were evacuated and displaced from their homes, some local hotels have been taking in families, said Rob O’Keefe from the Monterey Convention and Visitors Bureau.

More than 30 hotels are participating in the evacuation program, he said, but some issues are arising when the power goes out. O'Keefe said they have also reached out to hotels in neighboring counties that still have electricity to try to work around that problem.

4:09 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023

More than 250,000 customers in California are without power

From CNN’s Joe Sutton

The storm system that is impacting California has left over 250,000 customers without power on Tuesday afternoon, according to PowerOutage.US.

Santa Clara County which is south of San Francisco is experiencing the majority of the outages with more than 74,000 customers without power, the data shows. 

4:03 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023

Thousands of Californians are facing either an evacuation order and an evacuation warning

From CNN’s Joe Sutton

Residents in California are continuing to deal with yet another storm system that is bringing the risk of devastating floods across the state.

This has led various municipalities to issue either evacuation warnings or evacuation orders.

California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) spokesman Gustavo Ortiz told CNN that as of Tuesday morning, there were 71,678 people under evacuation warnings and 26,911 people under evacuation orders.

According to Ortiz, most of these evacuations are in Monterey County.

Warning vs. order, what's the difference?:

  • An evacuation warning “means there’s impending danger to your life or property. If a warning is given assume an evacuation order will follow,” Cal OES said in a news release on Tuesday.
  •  An evacuation order “means there’s an immediate threat to your life and you need to leave right now,” Cal OES said.

There are nearly 30 million people in California who are under a flood threat from the atmospheric river storm system that is battering the state.

Note: These stats are constantly changing as this is an active weather system impacting the state.

CNN’s Taylor Ward contributed to this report.

1:54 p.m. ET, March 14, 2023

Parts of northern Massachusetts are on track to receive up to 8 more inches of today, NWS Boston says

Some areas of northern Massachusetts could still see an additional 8 inches of snow by day's end, according to the National Weather Service in Boston.

The weather service warned of a messy evening commute and gusty winds through the evening.

According to snowfall reports from the weather service, some areas in higher elevations in New England have measured more than 20 inches of snow before midday Tuesday.

The National Weather Service in Albany said that the town of Piseco in the southern Adirondacks saw nearly 2.5 inches of snow in just one hour.