Tropical Storm Fred brings more flooding rains

finger lakes weather forecast flash flood risk wednesday august 18 2021
Heavy rain from the remains of Tropical Storm Fred will impact some of the same areas hit hard last night, resulting in elevated to high risks for flash flooding.

Flash Flooding Likely Tonight

An unfortunate combination of extreme rain amounts last night and the remains of Tropical Storm Fred tonight have portions of the Finger Lakes at a high risk for flash flooding again today.

The slow moving line of heavy thunderstorms yesterday afternoon and evening was just about the worst possible way the weather could have unfolded. Widespread rain amounts of 2-5 inches fell across the eastern and southeastern Finger Lakes, particularly in Cayuga, Tompkins, and Cortland counties.

finger lakes weather forecast estimated rainfall Tuesday morning through Wednesday morning
24- Hour Radar Estimated Rainfall, ending around 7am Wednesday, shows a widespread area of 2-5 inches falling yesterday and last night over the eastern Finger Lakes. [Click to Enlarge]
Some of these same areas are under the gun for additional very heavy rain tonight.

Before that can even occur, there is plenty of rain in the region this morning. This rain is running out ahead of the circulation of Fred, which is still far to the southwest just coming into southern West Virginia.

Rain will continue much of the day. Thankfully, most of the rain will be light to moderate, but a few embedded downpours are likely from time to time. There will probably also be some lulls in the activity.

Temperatures will mostly stick to the mid and upper 70s this afternoon. Dewpoints will remain oppressive near or just above 70 degrees.

The area of rain surrounding the center of Fred will enter into the Southern Tier late this afternoon. Heavy rain should spread into the southeastern Finger Lakes this evening and into the middle of the night. The core of the heaviest rain should be in the areas of Elmira, Ithaca, Cortland, and Binghamton.

There is still some uncertainty in the exact location with some of the latest short-term model data keeping the heaviest just a bit south. While only a difference of 25-50 miles, it would be a huge relief to see such a shift, as it would take the heaviest rain out of the areas that were hit hard last night, especially northern Cortland County.

Due to recent rainfall, terrain, and the hydrology of the area, northern Cortland County is the area I am most concerned about and I have used a Level 4 Flood Risk there. A stripe of Level 3 flood risk extends southwest where the heavy rain threat today aligns with the heavier rain amounts yesterday.

The one good thing about yesterday was that the heavy rain stayed north of Tioga and Broome counties. It is highly likely that a few inches of rain will fall there tonight, but the flash flood guidance indicates that these areas may be able to take it without too many problems. Fingers Crossed.

By the time Fred departs to the east tomorrow morning, an additional 2-4 inches will be possible in the areas outlined above. Locally higher amounts will also be possible.

Further north and west, the rain will mainly fall during the daytime hours today and should not cause many issues.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast wednesday august 18 2021
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Late Week and Weekend Weather

Outside of a few scattered showers, Thursday and Friday should offer our region a bit of a break from the rain. Friday in particular looks to have low chances for additional rain.

There will still be a fair amount of cloud cover left over behind Fred for Thursday. Combined with northwesterly winds, temperatures will stick to the mid 70s. Dewpoints will remain around 70.

The wind may be a bit blustery over the southeastern Finger Lakes Thursday morning with a few gusts to 30 mph. Ordinarily, this would not be a big deal, but with the saturated ground, a few uprooted trees and sporadic power outages may result.

Friday should have a bit more sun, but thin clouds will also be present to filter the amount of sunshine. Highs will reach the upper 70s and low 80s. Dewpoints will make a small dip, retreating to the mid 60s.

Forecast confidence decreases significantly for Saturday. Low pressure will be working into the Great Lakes, while another tropical system, Hurricane Henri, lurks off the Mid-Atlantic coast. Henri is not expected to directly impact our area, but some models are hinting at a connection between these two systems, resulting in a small but noteworthy chance for more heavy rain.

Weather models can have a very difficult time handling such scenarios, but it definitely bears watching closely, especially for those areas at risk today.

More Information:

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast wednesday august 18 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.

  1. Bob
    |

    That may be the best written forecast in style and substance I’ve ever read. You are ridiculously talented Drew. #respect