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Holiday brings year's heaviest rain, fending off snow

Thank goodness for the rain -- maybe.

Meteorologists say that all of the rain Wednesday night and Thanksgiving morning spared the region from getting a lot more snow.

But some Western New Yorkers were forced to deal with flooded basements and road closures as a Thanksgiving rainfall -- the heaviest of the year -- soaked parts of the region.

Over a 24-hour period, from about 11 p.m. Wednesday to 11 a.m. Thursday, the Buffalo area recorded 2.42 inches of rain.

By noon Thursday, much of the rain had begun to turn into snow, first in the Southern Tier and in the higher elevations. At Buffalo Niagara International Airport, the rain turned into a fine snow, occasionally mixed with freezing drizzle.

"The fact that we got so much rain, and it stayed with us for so long, meant that it didn't get a chance to change into snow," said Steve McLaughlin, a meteorologist with the weather service in Cheektowaga.

Some motorists in Buffalo had to navigate through flooding at a few intersections -- Main Street and Fillmore Avenue, and Main and Northampton streets -- but those roads remained open Thursday.

The situation was worse outside Buffalo, where there was major street flooding on Route 240 north of Genesee Road in East Concord, as well as on Route 5 on the Seneca Reservation, according to an Erie County sheriff's dispatcher. Flooding also led to the closure of Pigeon Valley Road in Napoli, a Cattaraugus County sheriff's dispatcher reported.

Some neighborhoods in parts of Amherst, Cheektowaga, Kenmore and West Seneca were dealing with flooded basements, and some residents spent part of Thanksgiving pumping out water, police reported.

As temperatures dropped and roads became icy Thursday afternoon, there were numerous crashes throughout the region. Traffic on the Niagara Section of the Thruway was diverted for a short time as crews dealt with a series of accidents between Seneca and Smith streets.

Police in Hamburg, Lancaster, North Tonawanda and other communities reported a series of fender-benders, spinouts and other minor accidents caused by slick conditions. Bridges that were frozen over were blamed for some of the mishaps.

Weather Service meteorologist Chuck Tingley said a little sunshine with a mix of clouds is in today's forecast, as well as a 40 percent chance of snow. High temperatures are expected to reach only the lower 30s.

"It's nothing Western New Yorkers can't handle," Tingley said.

According to the forecast, there is a 60 percent chance of snow Saturday. "Sunday is looking real good," Tingley said. "If there's any [snow] around to melt, it will probably melt Sunday."

News Staff Reporters Brian Meyer and Harold McNeil contributed to this report.


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