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Weather Whiplash: Floods Hit Buffalo as 62°F Temperatures Melt Huge Snowpack

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:54 PM GMT on November 24, 2014

It's weather whiplash in Buffalo, New York, where the temperature surged to 62°F at 11 am EST Monday, following a week of near-record cold and heavy snow. The exceptional warmth would be welcome if not for the massive snowpack on the ground along a swath across the southern and eastern suburbs of Buffalo, where last week's extreme lake effect snow storm dumped up to 88" (7 feet, four inches) of snow at Cowlesville. The water content of the snow, if it all melted at once, is huge--equivalent to up to 6.3" of rain at Orchard Park, NY, as measured last Friday. Fortunately, today's warmth has been accompanied by rainfall amounts less than .10" so far, and only one area river is at moderate flood stage--Cayuga Creek at Lancaster, where over six feet of snow fell last week. With freezing temperatures expected to return on Tuesday night and continue for most of the remainder of the week, widespread damaging flooding is not expected, and the forecast is for mostly minor flooding in the Buffalo area on Monday and Tuesday. The large and powerful November storm responsible for Buffalo's remarkable warmth is bringing high winds to an exceptionally large area of the U.S. and Canada this Monday morning, with High Wind Watches and Warnings posted for a 17-state area 1,000 miles across, from North Dakota to New York and southwards to Arkansas.

Figure 1. Dump trucks pile snow at Buffalo's Central Terminal on Sunday, November 23, 2014 after a lake effect snow storm brought over seven feet of snow to nearby regions. (AP Photo/Mike Groll) 

Figure 2. Strong winds blowing over Lake Erie on Monday are predicted to bring waves up to 18 feet high to the north shore of the lake at 10 pm EST Monday night, November 24, 2014. A Lakeshore Flood Warning is posted for Buffalo, New York at the east end of Lake Erie, where waters levels are expected to rise to flood stage--eight feet above the low water datum--on Monday night into Tuesday. Image credit: NOAA/GLERL.

Figure 3. Severe weather map for the U.S. at 10:30 am EST Monday November 24, 2014. High Wind advisories (blue colors) extended in a 1000-mile swath from North Dakota to New York, and southwards to Arkansas. Winter weather advisories (white colors) were in effect over portions of the Northeast for a new storm system expected to bring 6+" inches of snow to the region on Wednesday.

Thanksgiving travel trouble ahead for the Eastern U.S.
A significant Nor'easter will form off the coast of South Carolina on Tuesday night and track north-northeastward, parallel to the coast, on Wednesday. Snow will begin in the Southern Appalachians late Tuesday night and spread northeastwards on Wednesday. Areas to the east of the I-95 corridor should be all rain, with Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City seeing a wintry mix of rain and snow with snow accumulations of an inch or less. Farther inland, snow amounts of 6+ inches are likely along a swath from Northeast Pennsylvania and Northwest New Jersey into Maine, including Hartford, Connecticut and central Massachusetts cities like Worcester. Small changes in the forecast track of the system will likely occur over the next day, so stay tuned to the latest forecasts.

Moroccan floods kill at least 31
Torrential rains in Morocco on Monday have triggered extreme flooding responsible for at least 31 deaths, reported Al Jazzeera on Monday morning. Dozens remain missing after storms dumped more than 4" of rain (101.6 mm) on the southern part of the north African country. Thanks go to wunderground member barbamz for posting this info in my blog comments.

Jeff Masters
Lancaster, NY
Lancaster, NY

Winter Weather Flood

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.