All eyes are on the skies over the Buffalo Niagara region late Friday afternoon.
After a record-breaking day of hot temperatures, the atmosphere is ripening for significant convection ahead of a strong cold front approaching the region from the west.
The federal Storm Prediction Center circled portions of Western New York along with Ohio and Pennsylvania as an area primed for severe weather this afternoon.
Forecasters at the Buffalo office of the National Weather Service also issued a special weather statement just after 3 p.m. announcing that strong storms are expected later this afternoon and evening in the region.
4:01 PM EDT - Confidence increasing for severe weather #WNY. Srn Tier will likely see 1st strong storms between ~5PM-6PM. Then expect rapid development N and E this eve.
WNY - https://t.co/leDB1hCrxC#ROC - https://t.co/as3RllTFqR
Eastern L Ontario - https://t.co/Bh906waR2v https://t.co/BZT97eahL2
— NWS Buffalo (@NWSBUFFALO) September 21, 2018
"A powerful cold front over southern Ontario this afternoon will take aim on our region this evening," the statement said. "Showers and thunderstorms will develop along and ahead of this front with some of the thunderstorms likely producing damaging wind gusts in excess of 60 mph."
Forecasters said the line of showers and thunderstorms are expected to track eastward and affect the Genesee Valley and Finger Lakes after 6:30 p.m.
"While the greatest severe weather threat will be from damaging wind gusts in excess of 60 mph, an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out," the weather service said.
The weather service said winds were already clocked above 40 mph this afternoon.
They included a 45 mph gust at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport at 1:22 p.m. today. The Niagara Falls International Airport registered a 49 mph gust at 3:26 p.m.
Friday's daytime high of 88 degrees broke a daily record of 86 degrees set in 1934.
With the passage of the cold front, Saturday's high temperature is expected to be about 25 degrees cooler. Daytime highs on Saturday in Buffalo are expected in the low 60s.