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Thunderstorms cause wind damage, flash floods

The coolness of Lake Erie’s waters drove a stake into the heart of some otherwise severe thunderstorms and spared much of the northern half of the Niagara Frontier from damaging weather late Wednesday.

The Southern Tier and a portion of Niagara County weren’t as lucky.

Reports from Dunkirk to Houghton poured in early Wednesday evening of high winds from intense thunderstorms that felled trees or power lines. There also were scattered reports of flash flooding after more than 1.5 inches of rain fell in a short period of time in a swath from Findley Lake to Sinclairville in Chautauqua County.

“We were anticipating several thunderstorms being severe, which did happen,” said David Thomas, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “It kind of had a path of destruction that was significant.”

A wind gust from one of the thunderstorms ahead of the cold front clocked in at 41 mph at Dunkirk harbor, the Weather Service reported.

Weather Service reports showed that trees were reported down in Sherman, Chautauqua, Lakewood, Falconer and Cherry Creek from just before 5 to 5:30 p.m. Trees also were reported down on Riga Road in Leon in Cattaraugus County, as well as in Scio and Houghton in Allegany County between 5:30 and 7 p.m. Downed power lines were reported in Salamanca at about 6 p.m.

An area of western Niagara County and along the southern Lake Ontario shoreline also saw heavy thunderstorm action, with a few power outages reported.

Utility crews from National Grid and New York State Electric and Gas were working to restore power shortly before 9 p.m. to more than 100 customers in Allegany County, as well as to nearly 200 others in Cattaraugus County, 50 near Jamestown and 23 customers south of Mayville. Almost 200 more in the LaSalle area of Niagara Falls and 100 others in Wilson were also dark.

The Buffalo metro area, despite the menacing appearance of the sky about dinnertime, escaped much of the wrath.

“A southwest wind brought some of that cooler lake water temperatures across the northern Niagara Frontier,” Thomas said.

That served to stabilize the atmosphere, he said.

The Weather Service canceled a severe thunderstorm watch at about 8:15 p.m. as darkness approached and the storms received less fuel from the heat of the sun, Thomas said.

With the cold front passed, the region is expected to enjoy cooler, drier conditions over the next several days into the weekend, with sunny or mostly sunny conditions and daytime highs in the upper 70s to low 80s.