A double whammy of weather woes spinning off from Hurricane Sandy led the National Weather Service late Saturday afternoon to issue twin watches – for flooding and high winds – throughout Western New York on Monday and Tuesday.
Forecasters, still waiting to see the full wrath of Sandy, are calling for the potential of 2 to 3 inches of rain and winds out of the north-northeast of 35 to 45 mph, with gusts of 55 to 65 mph, early in the week. The brunt of the storm is expected to hit here from Monday afternoon throughout the day Tuesday.
The heavy rain then will cause a greater flooding threat because of the ground already being saturated by the persistent rain throughout the weekend. So, the National Weather Service is calling for the possibility of minor flooding in low-lying and poor-drainage areas, along with the potential for urban flooding due to fallen leaves clogging storm drains.
The downpours and heavy winds could combine to create another hazard.
“Winds of these speeds and from this direction, combined with a saturated ground from heavy rain, will bring a risk of downed trees, which can block roadways and take out power lines,” the high-wind watch stated.
The weather service also noted that the wind direction, north-northeast, could make a difference. The region’s tree-root systems are built for a prevailing southwest wind; so northerly winds can create more tree damage.
It should be noted, though, that as of late Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service had issued flood and high-wind watches –not the more serious warnings.
Meanwhile, the City of Buffalo and its Department of Public Works are advising residents to make sure flashlights and sump pumps are working and to help keep storm-sewer grates cleared of leaves to prevent street flooding.
Regional utilities are in preparation mode, as well, according to state officials. NYSEG has at its disposal a staff of 440 full-time personnel comprising 220 crews, 107 tree-trimming contractors and 59 contractor crews, and National Grid is currently in “full mobilization mode” with 300 line crews, 50 contractors, and 200 tree-trimming crews available.
And, utility companies have made requests for thousands of personnel from out-of-state utilities that are not affected by the storm. These personnel will be deployed once specific impacts from the storm are known.