At long last the Western New York area has been able to enjoy a mid-winter thaw. Temperatures in Dunkirk ranged from the mid to upper 50s throughout the day Thursday for the first time in what seemed like an eternity.
According to the National Weather Service in Buffalo, the welcomed thaw was thanks to some high pressure funneling off the east coastline.
"And slowly one (system) from the back southern side, and it's been bringing much milder air from the south across all of Western New York and pretty much all of the Northeast," noted Meteorologist David Thomas.
OBSERVER Photos by Matt Panebianco
Warm weather has caused ice buildup on Cattaraugus Creek in Sunset Bay to melt, but as of 4:30 p.m. Thursday had not cracked. The National Weather Service predicts breaking ice and ice jams causing flooding around 3 to 6 a.m. today.
Thursday was the thaw western New Yorkers have been waiting for. It seemed to take a while to come around this year and Thomas agreed.
"It was a little bit later than usual," he said. "A typical winter in western New York you usually get a couple of these thaws throughout the winter. But outside of New Year's Day when we saw temperatures shoot up into the 50s we've been pretty much not that much warmer than the freezing mark."
You can keep your spring coat handy for today, but make sure your winter gear hasn't already been gobbled up by the bottom of your closet.
"We will have a cold front moving through (Friday) afternoon," Thomas warned. "That will come through Friday and it will drop temperatures into the upper 30s by Friday evening and Friday night temperatures are expected to fall right down into the mid-20s for lows. So it will probably be close to a 33-degree temperature drop through the day on Friday."
The almost two months of near freezing or below freezing temperatures, Thomas said, allowed not only the snow to build up but also the ice on the rivers to build up.
"We have the flood watch out right now, mainly for the Cattaraugus Creek, near Sunset Bay. We're thinking there can be some ice jam flooding along that creek; and also in backyards and small streams," he said. "A word of advice for anyone, especially with it being President's Day weekend and who have kids going out exploring, just stay off the ice. Last week at this time it was probably thick enough to walk over and cross on, but with a couple days in the 50's and increased water flow below the ice, the ice could be much thinner than anticipated and we don't want anyone to fall through the ice."
Today, temperatures are expected to reach an early morning high of around 50 degrees before dropping into the upper 30s by early evening.
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