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WET AND MILD

Winter took a break Friday, for a while anyway, as unseasonably warm temperatures teased the weather-weary with a mixture of rain and some sunshine before returning to more normal conditions overnight.

The unusual weather, along with melting snow, combined to produce damaging floods that closed roads, a South Buffalo bridge, and forced some residents from their homes.

Ice jams along Cazenovia Creek in West Seneca and South Buffalo produced flooding that forced some residents from their homes and closed streets to traffic.

West Seneca Town Supervisor Paul T. Clark said that things got "pretty bad" but were under control by late Friday night.

"With a quick thaw and precipitation, we're bound to get some jamming," he said.

"The ice jam let loose and we have a really good flow," he said late Friday, "with no street flooding and nothing over the banks." Clark said fire, street and town highway crews were still out late Friday assisting residents in pumping out basements.

About 12 to 15 houses on Parkside Drive were threatened by the rising waters, he said, and several houses were evacuated.

"The water rescue team did bring some people out with inflatable boats," he said.

Residents of Parkside Drive and West Willowdale in West Seneca who wanted to evacuate were given rides to Vigilant Fire Hall, where meals were provided, police said. Streets in that area, south of Seneca Street, remained blocked to traffic late Friday.

Police said the flooding had subsided with the breakup of an ice jam. "The water's moving very well," an officer said.

Meanwhile, the Stevenson Street bridge over the creek in South Buffalo was closed by Buffalo police at about 6:30 p.m. as water and ice reached the bridge deck. Flooding occurred as the creek overran the banks along North Legion Drive and made its way down side streets.

No evacuations or serious flooding were reported in Buffalo.

Strong winds and colder temperatures were expected to follow overnight with the thermometer dropping to a more seasonable high today of only 20 degrees.

A strong southwesterly flow of "very warm" air through the area on
Friday created the near-record warmth, with the temperature reaching a high of 60 degrees, said Judy Levan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Winds were expected to reach 25 to 30 mph, with gusts over 50 mph.

Levan said much of the area's snow melted, creating an ice jam in Cazenovia Creek that broke up during the evening hours and moved downstream to Cazenovia Park.

A cold front was expected to come through overnight, bringing with it very strong winds. A high wind warning was also in effect Friday night.

Temperatures are expected to remain in the 20s all day, with the lows tonightdipping to 10 degrees, and the high on Sunday peaking at 20 degrees.

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