SIGN UP for our newsletter ✉️ :

Get the latest stories delivered straight to you

Winter storms drench California with flooding

Wild winter weather has dumped more torrential rain on California, forcing evacuations, power outages and road closures, as the remnants of a powerful Nor'easter blizzard buried much of upstate New York and New England under snow.

While the US Northeast is conditioned for snowstorms each winter, the West Coast is getting pounded by an usually wet season following two decades of drought, creating havoc on the roads and endangering blufftop homes along the coast in southern California's Orange County.

The National Weather Service (NWS) predicted ongoing winter storms and atmospheric river events on the West Coast through to March 23, warning of potential flooding and mudslides from heavy rain, melting snowpack, saturated soils and swollen streams.

A spate of atmospheric rivers - the term used by meteorologists to describe airborne currents of dense, tropical moisture from the Pacific - lashed California in rapid succession from late December through mid-January, leading to the deaths of at least 20 people.

Another churned through the state this week, causing at least four fatalities.

The storm knocked out power to 156,000 homes and businesses in California.

In Newport Beach, a wealthy Orange County enclave, one home with spectacular ocean views hung in the balance as the blufftop beneath it collapsed. Pacific Coast Highway was closed at several points elsewhere along the Orange County coast, where residents in other blufftop homes were evacuated.

But most of the threat loomed over northern California and the agricultural Central Valley.

The Sacramento River, the longest in the state, was reaching flood stage just below Shasta Dam, the state's largest reservoir, the National Weather Service said, issuing flood warnings to several towns along the river.

In the Northeast, a late-winter blizzard dumped about 60 centimetres of snow in the Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts and northwestern Connecticut, and a foot or more in parts of New York's Hudson Valley. About 129,000 customers lacked power in New York and New England.

Across Massachusetts the accumulations left by the Nor'easter - a type of storm that affects the US East Coast and is named after the direction of the wind - varied greatly.

Colrain, with 1700 residents, has only five snow ploughs and it is uncertain how long it will take to dig out.

In western Vermont around Burlington, about 320 kilometres northwest of Boston, 60 centimetres of snow piled up in some locations since early Tuesday.