Watch out, New Year's revelers: 2019 is getting off to a stormy start.
Rain and strong winds were likely across the region tonight, according to the National Weather Service.
However, it was planned to be a start that included the annual New Year's Eve fireworks display, fire officials said, according to a spokesman for Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown late Monday.
In Buffalo, home to the annual ball drop and fireworks display, the National Weather Service late Monday forecasted scattered rain showers overnight.
"It looks like most of the rain is out of Erie County at this time," said Heather Kenyon, a National Weather Service meteorologist at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga.
About one-half an inch of rain had already fallen by 10 p.m. Monday, though not much more rainfall was anticipated to accumulate by the morning, Kenyon said. However, winds were expected to gust as high as 60 mph by 11 p.m. Remaining in effect was a high wind warning issued for 11 p.m. throughout much of Western New York.
"Winds are going to rapidly increase after 11 p.m.," Kenyon said.
"Right now, we have winds that are gusting to about 35 mph," Kenyon said at 10 p.m.
Despite that forecast, the fireworks display was scheduled to go on, according to Buffalo fire officials, said Michael J. DeGeorge, a spokesman for the mayor and for Buffalo Police.
Earlier Monday, Buffalo Fire Commissioner William Renaldo called the conditions "less than ideal" and said fire officials would make the call about whether Buffalo's fireworks display would go on as scheduled sometime between 11 and 11:15 p.m. He said the guidelines call for no fireworks if wind gusts go above 25 to 30 mph.
“We’re going to be right in that range so it’s kind of a game-time decision," Renaldo said.
Buffalo officials don’t anticipate any change to the ball drop. It’s never bounced coming down, they said, and is designed to resist the elements. “It might be a little rainy but we’ve been through rain before,” said Mike Schmand of Buffalo Place.
On Monday evening, the Buffalo Police spokesman, DeGeorge, said he was unaware if a call to cancel the New Year's Eve fireworks show had ever been made in the past.
The Buffalo festivities were scheduled to begin with a concert outside the Electric Tower at 10 p.m.
Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel said it would move its fireworks show to 9 p.m., because of the severe wind weather warning for the region. The fireworks had been scheduled to go off at midnight.
Henry Wojtaszek, chief executive officer and president at Batavia Downs Gaming, said the decision was made at the advice of its fireworks vendor.
In Lockport, Lockport Police said in a tweet that due to the potential high winds and rain, the fireworks show has been canceled tonight. The Lockport ball drop will still happen, according to the tweet from Lockport Police.