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Hurricane-force gusts, Lake Erie seiche possible Sunday

Today's gusty southwest winds will be more of a nuisance in the Buffalo Niagara region.

By Sunday, winds fueled by a powerful storm system could be downright damaging.

Hurricane-force wind gusts are possible during the day.

The National Weather Service in Buffalo posted a high wind watch for Erie County along with Niagara, Orleans, Genesee and Chautauqua counties from 7 a.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday.

Westerly winds of 35 mph to 45 mph are expected with gusts as high as 75 mph.

"Strong wind gusts will bring down trees and power lines and result in scattered power outages," the weather service said. "Shallow-rooted pines will be particularly vulnerable. Minor property damage is also possible, especially to roofs and siding."

The bottom sustained wind threshold for a Category 1 hurricane is 74 mph.

A lakeshore flood watch is also in effect in Erie, Niagara and Chautauqua counties on Sunday.

The gusty winds are expected to cause rises and ice movement on the eastern end of Lake Erie, the weather service said.

"Lakeshore flooding is possible along the lake Erie shoreline, including the Buffalo harbor and the waterfront from the expected seiche," the weather service said. "Ice in the eastern basin of Lake Erie may get pushed onto shoreline areas along Lake Erie, including the Buffalo Harbor."

It added: "In addition, ice may get pushed across the ice boom and into the upper Niagara River, resulting in damage along the upper Niagara River shoreline."

The weather service sounded advance alarms Wednesday of the possibility for damaging wind gusts Sunday. By later Wednesday, forecasters said the probability was growing increasingly likely that strong and damaging winds, possibly with gusts over 70 mph, may rake the Buffalo Niagara region.

"Model guidance continues to show a favored track for Western and North Central New York to receive widespread high, damaging winds," the weather service said.  "Confidence is moderate-high that the region should see a high wind event Sunday and Sunday night."

An anomalously deep storm system passing from the central Great Lakes into Québec will help generate the wind field.

"It will be important to stay tuned to updated forecasts and possible statements and headlines as we progress through the rest of the week," the weather service said.

Meanwhile, gusty southwest winds Thursday could flirt with 40 mph behind an early morning frontal passage.

Forecasts show the gusty winds could persist into the evening. The weather service said Thursday will be otherwise cloudy with highs in the mid-30s.

Cloudy skies are also expected overnight with lows in the mid-20s.

Sunny skies are expected Friday with highs in the mid- to upper 30s, the weather service said.

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