WNY averts serious flooding despite rain, snow melt - The Buffalo News
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WNY averts serious flooding despite rain, snow melt

Thick chunks of ice were still jamming up area creeks Friday evening but, as the rain stopped and temperatures dropped, the threat of major flooding passed through Western New York without too many serious problems.

By 9 p.m., the National Weather Service reported that all warnings of creek flooding had been canceled, although ice jams remained a threat on Buffalo Creek in West Seneca and Cattaraugus Creek near Sunset Bay.

Earlier Friday, Buffalo Creek in Gardenville peaked at more than a foot and a half above its seven-foot flood stage before receding in the afternoon to just an inch or two above its banks.

The recently flood-prone Lexington Green, off Mineral Springs Road in West Seneca, saw some minor flooding in late afternoon, but by evening the waters appeared to be receding, according to West Seneca police. That’s the area where town officials delivered sandbags in an effort to protect homes from rising waters, and crews were still pumping water from the area into the evening.

“The primary issue remains in West Seneca,” said meteorologist Kirk Apffel of the weather service. “An ice jam has formed in the same spot as before, near Harlem Road, and that could cause some problems. There are probably a lot of other ice jams out there, but not in areas near any homes, so the gauges are going to be going up and down, depending on where they are.”

The weather service also extended a flood warning for Irving because of an ice jam at Sunset Bay near the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek. A voluntary evacuation of Sunset Bay was called at 6 p.m. Friday, as darkness fell and the jam had not moved. Residents were advised via reverse 911 calls to move vehicles out of areas near rising water.

Sunset Bay Fire Chief Rob Weiskerger said that crews were watching that ice jam and another near the Thruway overpass in the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation. Sections of Allegany Road and other side streets near the creek were barricaded as a precaution.

Chautauqua County Emergency Services and members of the Town of Hanover Highway Department were also on the scene monitoring the creek waters, according to Hanover Supervisor Todd Johnson.

In Silver Creek, there was concern early Friday about flooding in homes on Rex and Dana streets and Oliver Place, but the ice jams passed through Walnut and Silver creeks without incident.

The massive ice jam in Erie County on Cazenovia Creek, at the Cazenovia Street bridge, gave way with force about 3:15 p.m. Friday, dropping the creek from near flood stage back to firmly within its banks.

Temperatures in the 50s on Friday combined with more than an inch of rain overnight to create a large influx of water to area waterways. By evening, temperatures had dropped and were expected to be in the upper 20s overnight, with highs in the 30s today, slowing the melt-off to a trickle.

Meanwhile, a high wind warning, forecast for the region, was downgraded to an advisory. A cold front – which was associated with blizzard-like conditions in the Midwest and tornadoes throughout Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and other parts of the South – briefly brought warmer temperatures, a record rainfall for Thursday’s date and even a few thunderstorms to Western New York.

Since Thursday, as much as 1.8 inches of rain fell, including a record-breaking 1.13 inches Thursday, contributing to the snow melt. The new record eclipsed the old figure of 0.73 inches set in 1924, the weather service reported.

Southwest winds blowing at about 20 mph and gusts near 30 mph were reported Friday at Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

Any precipitation today will be light, with snow or snow mixed with rain, Apffel said. More snow showers are expected to begin early Monday morning and persist into Tuesday.

Chautauqua County Correspondent Susan Chiappone contributed to this report. email: tpignataro@buffnews.com and mmiller@buffnews.com

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