Widespread flooding ahead for snowy western New York: officials

Fri Nov 21, 2014 12:19pm EST
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By Sarah Irwin

EVANS N.Y. (Reuters) - Warm temperatures and rain were forecast for the weekend in the city of Buffalo and western New York, bringing the threat of widespread flooding to the region bound for days by deep snow.

Areas where several feet of snow fell this week should brace for significant, widespread flooding, the National Weather Service warned on Friday.

Swept by lake effect storms, parts of western New York including Buffalo, received as much as seven feet (2 meters) of snow, an amount equal to a year's worth of accumulation for the region. Such storms occur when cold air moves across warmer Great Lake waters and can dump heavy snowfall when they hit land.

Temperatures in western New York will stay above freezing through Tuesday night, with highs of nearly 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius) on Sunday and nearly 60 F (16 C) on Monday, the Weather Service said.

"The warming will bring melting. The melting will bring water. Water will bring floods," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference.

"We are preparing now for more flooding than we have seen in a long, long time," he said. "We've never had this much snow and this much melting of this much snow in a short period of time."

Some areas should expect five (152 cm) to six feet (183 cm) of water, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said.

To prepare, area residents said they were moving valuables out of their basements.   Continued...

People carrying shovels walk in the street beside tall snowbanks in Buffalo, New York, November 21, 2014. REUTERS/Aaron Ingrao