Friday afternoon thunderstorm threat increasing for the Finger Lakes

finger lakes weather update friday july 19 2019 severe thunderstorms damaging winds frequent lightning
Thunderstorms are moving across Canada toward the Finger Lakes early this afternoon. Additional storms are also expected to develop. All storms will be capable of dangerous, frequent lightning and damaging winds.

Early Afternoon Update

In this morning’s blog post, I outlined some of the uncertainties with the thunderstorm forecast for today.

The weather is evolving and I feel more confident now that thunderstorms will impact at least portions of the Finger Lakes.

First, I mentioned this morning an impulse of energy left over from storms that developed over the Midwest last night. That impulse is now making its way through Ontario and heading towards Western New York with a band of thunderstorms.

While not the most impressive looking on the radar shot included here, the line is strengthening. Further more, there is a huge amount of lightning with this storm complex.

Second, there is at least some limited action starting to fire up on the lake breezes off the Great Lakes. The image capture here shows a cell off Lake Erie, but just in the time it is taking me to write this, new development is showing up off Lake Ontario to the north of Buffalo as well.

The red, white, and pink colors on the map indicate high levels of instability across the region out ahead of these storms. There is little reason to doubt that they will not persist and will likely continue to strengthen as they head into our region. Additional storms may also develop along the lake breezes and due to differences in terrain.

5 PM Update

Storms have coalesced into line segments over the Southern Tier. All other cells have dissipated. A stray storm cannot be ruled out later this evening, but from here, most of the action will be across the Southern Tier. There are currently two severe thunderstorm warnings in the Elmira and Binghamton areas. Flood advisories are also out for portions of the Southern Tier.

3:45 PM Update

Dozens of small storm cells have developed over the region. Most of these have little lightning thusfar, but a few are merging into larger cells with increasing amounts of lightning. There are currently no severe thunderstorm warnings in effect.

The line of storms referenced above that was in Canada has weakened to the east of Buffalo.

Storms will continue to be possible anywhere at anytime for the next few hours. A few may become severe as outlined below.

Storm Threats

The Storm Prediction Center has jumped onto these trends as well with a new Slight Risk designation for our region. This is the equivalent of my Level 2- Low risk category. That seems reasonable to me given the overall set up.

Also, once again as I type this blog post, things continue to change and the Storm Prediction Center is now considering a severe thunderstorm watch.  2:30 PM Update- A severe thunderstorm WATCH is now in effect for the entire region until 10 PM

Damaging winds will be the primary severe threat from these thunderstorms. While there is not much in the way of favorable winds aloft for severe storms, the basic storm mechanics in this type of highly unstable atmosphere will result in some areas of strong winds.

Lightning is not a consideration of the National Weather Service when it comes to the severe status of a thunderstorm. Whether that is a good idea is a debate for another time, but I want to stress that these storms contain dangerous amounts of lightning. Seek shelter as soon as you begin to hear thunder and wait 30 minutes from the last rumble of thunder before heading back outside.

Stay tuned for pertinent updates.

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For more about the Heat…

Follow Meteorologist Drew Montreuil:
Meteorologist Drew Montreuil has been forecasting the weather in the Finger Lakes region since 2006 and has degrees in meteorology from SUNY Oswego (B.S. with Honors) and Cornell (M.S.). Drew and his wife have four young boys. When not working or playing with the boys, he is probably out for a run through the countryside.

3 Responses

  1. Erin

    Any idea about rainfall amounts and when it will arrive? (I’m in Dryden but a general idea if fine too) Thank you as always for all you provide to us!!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Timing will depend on any further development that can occur out ahead of the line. Already seeing some starting in Cayuga County. The line for the the Dryden area could be somewhere in the 5-7 PM range. Rainfall could be a quick inch+

      • Erin

        Thank you!