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Warm, windy Wednesday leads to watches, motorcyclist's death

Another day of unpredictable Western New York weather started with summery conditions and sunshine, then dark skies, a tornado watch and high winds that cost a Southern Tier motorcyclist his life.

A temperature of 82 degrees at Buffalo Niagara International Airport -- just two degrees shy of the record -- led residents to fire up their air-conditioners possibly for the first time this season.

That warm, moist air gave way to a tornado watch issued Wednesday afternoon for all of Western New York. National Weather Service meteorologists predicted multiple storms producing large hail, strong winds and possibly tornadoes, and airport wind gusts were clocked at 41 mph.

The watch lasted until 10 p.m., but only light showers hit Erie and Niagara counties through the evening. Allegany County received the worst of the storms, with reports of trees down in the Town of Alma.

An Allegany County Sheriff's Office dispatcher reported high winds, downed trees and flooding that began at about 6 p.m. and ended by 8:15. National Weather Service meteorologist Aaron Reynolds said one tree fell onto a house in Alma.

A wind gust is being blamed in the death of a Panama man who lost control of his motorcycle on the Southern Tier Expressway on Wednesday afternoon. Brian D. Range, 31, of South Street, who was considered an inexperienced motorcyclist, was blown off the roadway and hit a mile marker, Chautauqua County sheriff's officials said. Range died in Hamot Medical Center, Erie, Pa.

Buffalo remains about 0.25 inches of rainfall away from its April record of 5.9 inches, set in 1961.

"We're not very far away," Reynolds said. "It won't take much."

A flash flood watch was in effect from 10 p.m. Wednesday through this morning, and a wind advisory is in effect until 8 tonight. Temperatures today are expected to be in the upper 50s. Showers are expected in the afternoon, with winds from 25 to 35 mph and gusts up to 55 mph.

"It's going to get pretty windy," Reynolds said.

e-mail: cspecht@buffnews.com

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