Wednesday, 15 August 2018
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Ice storm update: Get ready for some heavy rain, maybe even a thunderstorm or two, today

Ice storm update: Get ready for some heavy rain, maybe even a thunderstorm or two, today
15 Apr
2:11

Pray your power stays on and get ready for some heavy rain, maybe even a thunderstorm or two.

That’s the second chapter of Ice Storm 2018 as it circles through the Buffalo Niagara region this weekend.

Sunday will be full of lots of rain, especially in the afternoon, with the high temperature of about 40 degrees, said National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Hamilton.

Heavy rain continues through Sunday night with a chance of thunderstorms.

Then a repeat performance is in store for Monday, with temperatures again hovering around 40.

Between Saturday night and Monday, a total of 1 to 2 inches of rain is expected to fall.

The storm began in Watertown, before settling into Rochester and continuing down the Thruway to Buffalo and onto Jamestown Saturday night. Downed tree branches and high winds caused scattered power outages.

“For some areas, it’s not looking good,” Hamilton said.

At times, the storm offered a combination of sleet, sprinkling ice, along with freezing rain, when rain freezes as it hits the ground.

As the Buffalo Niagara region braced for the ice and wind, with the possibility of flooding from anticipated rain of 2 to 3 inches, residents were encouraged to hunker down and stay inside.

Travel advisories are in place for Erie, Niagara and Genesee counties.

Early Saturday evening, sleet and freezing rain started falling in the Buffalo metro area, making for some slippery driving and walking conditions. Though it arrived a few hours later than anticipated, it still made its presence known.

As winds whipped up in Niagara County, photos were posted online of waves pounding the Lake Ontario shoreline. A tree was down on power wires in Olcott on West Creek Road, according to the Niagara County Fire Wire service.

“Everything is working out as expected,” Hamilton said Saturday evening.  The main problem right now is the northeast wind rather than the precipitation. Because we’re used to strong south winds off the lake, a wind from the opposite direction only needs about two-thirds of the speed to do the equivalent damage.”

Area emergency crews remained on alert Saturday, with Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz saying that weather advisories were indicating the storm could well be worse than initially expected.

“This is a significant storm we’ll be monitoring for at least the next 24 hours,” he said late Saturday afternoon.

The events over the next three days will be significant – from wind damage, ice storm damage and flooding – a weather trifecta. Potentially a quarter to half an inch of ice was forecast south of Buffalo, while areas in northern Erie County, Niagara and Orleans counties could see  one half to three-quarters of an inch through Monday morning, Poloncarz said.

“When you have wind you must be alert, because tree branches crack and fall and may bring power lines down with them,” said Steven J. Stepniak, Buffalo’s public works commissioner. “Walking could be treacherous with a layer of ice on the streets and sidewalks. If you don’t have to go out, please don’t.”

Additional crews will be out salting city streets during the late afternoon into the night, Stepniak said.

“We have a stockpile of salt and we are ready,” the streets commissioner said during a media briefing Saturday afternoon in City Hall. County vehicles are still equipped with their winter gear and additional emergency dispatch staff is on standby, as well as sheriff’s deputies, if more personnel needs to be called in this weekend.

The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office warned that areas along the Lake Ontario shore could see waves of up to 12 to 15 feet, causing shore damage.

Area officials were particularly concerned because, after the wind storm of a week ago and earlier snow storm in March, some restored power lines are just temporary and there was concern how those lines would withstand heavy ice and winds.

Already, some power crews from as far away as New England have been contacted to come to the Buffalo region, said Daniel J. Neaverth Jr., commissioner of the county’s Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Services.

“Travel will be difficult at times, especially tonight and early Sunday morning when pavement temperatures are coldest,” the updated weather service warning read. Downed trees and roads icing up are expected.

The weather affected some Saturday events. The Bisons baseball game was postponed and racing was cancelled at Buffalo Raceway in Hamburg. Veterans visiting Washington, D.C. with Honor Flight were grounded in the nation’s capital, unable to return home.

Forecasters issued a flood watch starting late Sunday, with a cold front expected to bring heavy rain between midnight Sunday and 7 a.m. Monday. Up to three inches of rain may lead to creek and stream flooding.

“The sewer crews are out monitoring the conditions,” Stepniak said. “It is typically the amount we would get in a snow meltdown, and we can handle that.”

A high wind watch will begin late Sunday as winds shift from the southeast. Gusts may reach 60 mph along the Lake Erie shoreline and

Poloncarz recommended residents have their cell phones queued to weather alerts and their devices charged, along with backups for their phone chargers. He also warned people not to use generators inside homes and to keep them at least 15 feet away from the outside of one’s home.

Poloncarz urged residents to download the county’s ReadyErie emergency app to receive updates on weather warnings,  road closures and more.

National Weather Service map shows area of ice storm warning in Western New York, with a winter weather advisory for the Southern Tier and most of New York State and a winter storm warning for the area around Watertown.

Don Paul: This storm could be ‘most serious ice storm hazard’ we’ve seen in a while

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