Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

June 29, 2013

Light wind helped spawn deluge

BY JOHN J. HOPKINS john.hopkins@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The rain started during the noon hour and it kept coming. And coming. And coming.

By the time she was done, Mother Nature had dropped between 3-5 inches of rain in the area.

A visit to the National Weather Service’s Buffalo radar showed a compelling tale of how Friday’s rain turned the Lock City into Venice of the West.

A “blob” of dark green and yellow, indicating moderate rain could be seen around 12:40 p.m. Over the next two hours, the blob barely moved and became yellow, then orange, indicating heavier rain.

And it dropped several inches of rain on Lockport.

“It was a very persistent area of rain over Niagara County,” said Jon Hitchcock, a meteorologist at the Buffalo office of the National Weather Service.

Hitchcock said around 3 p.m. Friday that a weather spotter in Lockport had recorded 3.32 inches of rain up to that point of the day.

“But 3.1 inches fell in the last two and a half hours,” he added.

Late Friday night, meteorologist Tom Paone said a weather spotter one mile north of Lockport had recorded 5.25 inches of rain for the day.

According to Hitchcock, the localized heavy rain and thunderstorms were nearly stationary over the county — particularly the eastern half — due to very weak winds at the 20,000 feet point.

Without a strong wind to push the storms through, they sat overhead, causing havoc in the city and town of Lockport.

While the chances of a deluge like Friday’s are somewhat rare, they are also fairly common in Western New York, Hitchcock said.

He explained that events such as Friday’s occur almost every year, but they are contained to very isolated areas. Therefore the chances that one will experience a similar downpour are small.

Weather service officials were expecting a downpour in Western New York, Hitchcock said, they just weren’t sure where. That’s why the service on Thursday issued a flood watch for the area.

On Friday afternoon, Hitchcock also warned that the flooding could get worse before subsiding, pointing out that the weather remains unsettled.

Paone echoed that sentiment.

“The worst of the rain is over for the night, but it’s a case where (Saturday) there could be some more scattered thunderstorms around,” Paone said. “There’s a lot of water on the ground and any additional rainfall could potentially cause some problems, but it probably won’t be as heavy as it was today. It’s something to keep an eye on for the next two days; we’ll be at the risk for more thunderstorms.”