Heavy downpours a rising concern

finger lakes weather forecast tuesday august 17 2021 heavy rain torrential downpours tropical storm fred
Repeated chances for heavy downpours, possibly including the remains of Tropical Storm Fred, have brought flooding concerns back into the picture. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

Repeated Bouts of Rain

A tropical air mass has returned to the Finger Lakes and will bring the potential for torrential downpours over the next few days.

Areas of rain and embedded downpours are moving northeast through the Finger Lakes this morning. These showers are associated with one of several small disturbances caught up in the flow out ahead of the remains of Tropical Storm Fred.

These showers will depart during the mid-morning, giving a narrow window of a few hours where precipitation will be rare across the region.

However, by the early afternoon, new showers and thunderstorms will begin to develop. These will remain scattered but will have the potential for very heavy rain with rates over an inch per hour possible.

These showers and storms will continue into the first part of the evening before tapering off once more.

High temperatures will generally be between 75-80 degrees this afternoon. Dewpoints will be near or just above 70, making it extremely muggy.

The evolution of tomorrow’s rain event is a bit uncertain thanks to differences in the model forecasts on the track of the remains of Fred.

It seems likely that rain will become more widespread Wednesday morning, possibly before dawn. The best chance for heavy rain will come in the afternoon. Whether that is from pop-up thunderstorms or more directly the remains of Fred remains to be seen.

Even if the main rain shield from Fred stays to our south, widespread rain totals from today and tomorrow could exceed an inch, with localized amounts as high as three or four inches. If Fred takes a path across the Finger Lakes, even higher amounts would be likely.

Most of the region is modeled to be able to withstand about two inches of rain falling in an hour, or three inches falling over six hours. Still, localized flooding, especially in urban and poor drainage settings, will be possible.

There are still several uncertainties to the flood risk that need to be resolved, so continue to monitor the forecast for updates.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast tuesday august 17 2021
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Not Done With Rain

Unfortunately, the rain chances will not end after Wednesday night.

Additional pop-up showers and thunderstorms will be possible Thursday and Friday. Both days should see most of the activity coming in the afternoon hours.

The atmosphere will not be as favorable for torrential downpours. Nonetheless, depending on how the next 48 hours unfold, even modest rain rates could be troublesome.

Temperatures should continue to sit in the 75-80 degree range, though pockets of warmer temperatures will be possible. And, while the atmosphere as a whole will be slightly less prone to intense downpours, dewpoints will remain very uncomfortable in the upper 60s and low 70s.

The rain threat will continue into the weekend as well. Saturday will have another increase in downpour potential, which means the flood threat cannot be dismissed. Again though, there are plenty of uncertainties, including how the rest of the week will unfold, that will influence the flood threat by Saturday.

Sunday and even Monday and Tuesday will continue to have the chance for some showers, though by then, the precipitation looks lighter and more sporadic. That could mean some warmer temperatures on Sunday before an early week cold front pushes highs back into the 70s for next week.

We may need to wait all the way until the middle of next week for less humid air to finally work back into the region.

More Information:

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast tuesday august 17 2021
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.

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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.