Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Local News

April 12, 2013

Rain, rain go away

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Thanks to a stationary front near the border of New York and Pennsylvania, the National Weather Service issued a flood watch for all of Western New York. The watch remained in effect until this afternoon at 5 p.m. 

Reached by phone at Buffalo’s National Weather Service office, meteorologist Jim Mitchell said the torrential rains which have drenched the area in the past few days happened because the storm front to the south “stalled out.” That stall led to the wide-ranging flood watch, which Mitchell believed to be the first of such magnitude in about two years.

Mitchell explained, “There are several waves of low pressure riding along the front, bringing shot of rain after shot of rain.” Those shots of rain were quite evident Wednesday afternoon and throughout the day Thursday. More rain was expected this morning.

“We keep getting those pockets of rain,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes they’re heavy, sometimes they’re not.”

Had the rain come earlier on the heels of a major snowstorm, ground saturation would have been a major concern. However, Mitchell said there was enough time between weather events that the only saturation concern is based on the current batch of storms.

The flood watch issued for the area came about because “conditions are favorable for a flood to happen,” Mitchell said. Thanks to historical information showing how much rain water it takes to flood area bodies of water and the monitoring of river gauges, Mitchell said “the potential is there” for possible flooding. Those places most at risk are low-lying areas and areas where drainage is an issue. Also, areas near small streams and creeks are also at risk. The cumulative effect of each pocket of rainfall is what could lead to the flooding of larger rivers, he explained.

The measured amount of rain as of late Thursday was roughly 2 inches. While that may not seem like much, Mitchell said it does not stay in one place. There is also runoff to consider, and the headwaters of several rivers to the south of this area also received significant rain. As the rain saturates the ground, that will also become an issue with another 2 to 3 inches of rain expected today.

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