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A strong southwest wind off Lake Erie barreled through Western New York early today, with the highest gusts approaching 60 mph, making for a tough morning commute for workers and school children alike.

“We had a 55 mph gust here at the airport,” National Weather Service meteorologist David Thomas said at about 8:15 a.m. “We’re getting to the peak of it now, so we’re still on the uptick.

“We could see peak wind gusts go up a few more miles an hour, to about 60,” Thomas added.

Earlier in the morning, unofficial reports cited wind gusts of 58 mph, both at the Dunkirk airport and in Niagara Falls.

Downed trees or tree limbs also were reported across much of the region, including Delaware and Elmwood avenues in Buffalo, along with Fredonia, Niagara Falls and Clinton Street in Elma.

Buffalo fire officials said that a tree branch or limb struck a car on Elmwood, between Bryant and Summer streets, shortly before 7 a.m., but no one was struck. And Stahl Road in Amherst was closed because of a downed power line.

Grant School in North Tonawanda, which houses a universal pre-K program and a county Head Start program, was forced to close today, after a utility pole came down behind the building, knocking out its electrical power, school officials said.

And a large tree fell across Prospect Avenue on Buffalo’s West Side at about 8:30 a.m., crushing two cars, according to witnesses. There were no reported injuries. Prospect Avenue remained closed later in the morning, between Porter Avenue and Connecticut Street.

“It’s entirely blocking the street, from curb to curb,” D’Youville College public relations director D. John Bray said of the tree.

Those were just some of the scattered reports of trees, branches and utility poles toppling due to the high winds this morning.

“This is your typical strong, gusty wind coming off Lake Erie and across Western New York,” Thomas said. “You maybe only get a half dozen of those a year, and they’re typically in the cold season.”

Almost forgotten amid the blustery morning was the pair of heavy rain events early and late Thursday that dampened Halloween for many and shattered the previous Oct. 31 record for rainfall. The National Weather Service in Cheektowaga received 1.22 inches for the day, smashing the old record of 0.78 inches set in 1942.

email: gwarner@buffnews.com

See videos of the high winds and damage at buffalonews.com.