A deepening storm system moving across the lower Great Lakes will bring stormy weather to the Buffalo Niagara region today.
Be on the lookout for heavy rain, strong winds as well as the potential for flash flooding and even the possibility of a tornado, especially in the western Southern Tier, federal forecasters said.
As the system develops, the Buffalo Niagara region will first find itself in the warm sector of a mid-latitude cyclone. That will help to pull moist, tropical air northward.
Then later tonight, a cold front trailing the system is forecast to sweep through the region.
National Weather Service forecasters said there's a potential for "widespread showers and embedded thunderstorms ... with heavy rainfall and a few strong to severe storms possible."
The region is forecast to be close to the "triple-point" of the storm system – where the warm front, cold front and occluded front come together. That's a spot that often favors strong to severe weather.
Forecasters project the heaviest storms, with the most rainfall, will happen just west of the region in southwestern Ontario, but more than 1 inch of rain is forecast across parts of Western New York. The heaviest rainfall is expected in the westernmost part of the region.
"Locally higher amounts are very possible in slow-moving heavy storms, which could bring flash flooding, if training develops," the weather service said. "Weather Prediction Center has included Western New York in an excessive rainfall threat for slow-moving storms."
Forecasters said there could also be sufficient conditions – wind shear and potential convective energy – to initiate severe thunderstorms ahead of the approaching cold front later this afternoon.
"As the surface low tracks across southwest Ontario, veered low-level wind profiles might support a risk for a few rotating thunderstorms," the weather service said.
Strong wind associated with the front are possible, but environmental conditions "may also be favorable for an isolated tornado."
Forecasters at the federal Storm Prediction Center put Western New York under a 2 percent risk for a tornado. The most favorable area could be the western Southern Tier, forecasters said.
What's notable is that the region was also under a 2 percent risk on the four-tornado day of July 20, 2017, that included a twister at the Erie County Fairgrounds.