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Thunderstorm triggers deluge in metro area but moves on quickly

A fast-moving thunderstorm deluged the Buffalo metro area with heavy rain at the height of the Tuesday evening rush hour, slowing commuter traffic to a crawl and causing minor flooding.

Buffalo Fire Department dispatchers reported that three houses in the city were hit by lightning.

A strike shortly before 5:30 p.m. started a fire in a vacant house at 35 Auchinvole Ave. on the West Side, causing an estimated $50,000 damage. Other homes were hit at 112 Floss Ave. and 392 Woodward Ave. but did not catch fire.

Electrical outages affected more than 2,000 National Grid customers, about 750 of them in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in the Town of Tonawanda.

Power also was interrupted for five minutes at Canadian customs operations at the Peace Bridge. Canadian Niagara Power reported that electricity was out for about 2,400 customers, primarily in Ridgeway, Ont.

Officially, 0.47 of an inch of rain fell at the National Weather Service office in Cheektowaga, but meteorologist Bill Hibbert said that Buffalo, Kenmore, the Tonawandas and Amherst were wetter.

So was the Chautauqua Ridge south and east of Buffalo, where more than an inch fell. A flash flood warning was issued Tuesday evening for parts of Allegany, Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties.

“It looked very intense on radar,” Hibbert said. “There was a lot of lightning and rain, but not much in the way of wind.”

The storm prompted cancellation of Tuesday evening’s Elmwood Village Summer Concert on Bidwell Parkway, featuring John and Mary. The Tuesday in the Park concert outdoors at the Artpark in Lewiston, with Gregg Allman and the Little Mountain Band, proceeded as scheduled.

The storm ushered in a cold front and dropped temperatures from the upper 70s to the mid- 60s in an hour.

Unsettled weather is expected to continue today and Thursday, with occasional showers both days. While daytime highs should reach 70 today, Thursday’s outlook is downright autumnlike, with temperatures in the low to mid- 60s.