Flood Watches for the Finger Lakes

finger lakes weather forecast update tuesday august 17 2021 flash flood watch
Flood watches are now in effect for most of the Finger Lakes due to heavy rain this evening and an increased chance for direct impacts from Tropical Storm Fred. Localized rain amounts over 5 inches are possible.

Concerning Rising

The concern for flooding in the Finger Lakes, especially late tomorrow, is increasing as models hone in on the path of heavy rain from Tropical Storm Fred.

Unfortunately, it is looking more and more likely that our region will be subjected to multiple bouts of heavy rain.

One such event is ongoing now. Scattered thunderstorms that developed during the early and mid afternoon have congealed into a line of storms. The motion of the storms is along the axis of the line, to the northeast, meaning multiple rounds of torrential downpours in the same areas.

Already one flash flood warning has been issued for northeastern Ontario County and much of Wayne County. I would not be surprised to see additional flood warnings over the next few hours.

The rain will taper off for a time this evening, but by dawn, a new area of widespread rain will be pushing into the region.

This is what is called a Predecessor Rain Event, which can occur ahead of inland tropical or ex-tropical systems. Light to moderate rain is expected throughout the region for much of tomorrow.

Then, on top of all of this, Fred arrives late tomorrow.

It looks as though the heaviest rain directly associated with Fred will cross the Southern Tier and southeastern Finger Lakes. Areas such as Bath, Elmira, Ithaca, and Cortland may end up within a band of very heavy rainfall and gusty winds tomorrow night.

On the bright side, most of these areas are not currently seeing heavy rain, though some parts of Tompkins County in particular already saw heavy rain this morning from a persistent band of rain.

When all is said and done Thursday morning, much of the region will have seen 1-3 inches of rain combined from today and tomorrow. Localized amounts up to 5 inches will not be unheard of, and the potential for even higher amounts exists.

The dry weather for the last couple weeks will help limit the initial flood risk, but with rain amounts that high, it almost always results in areas of flooding.

This is an evolving but potentially serious situation, and those in flood-prone areas, including along small streams or in poor drainage areas, should be prepared to take action should waters rise quickly.

I will have more details with my Wednesday morning post, hopefully with a better idea on pinpointing the areas most at risk and the level of risk we are looking at.

More Information:

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

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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.