Syracuse, N.Y. — Upstate New York is at the epicenter of a strong storm system that could bring damaging winds, power outages and torrential rain tonight and into Monday.
The National Weather Service said one wave of the storm could generate an “absolute mess” of thunderstorms.
There’s a 30% chance today and tonight for severe storms from Western New York through the lower Adirondacks. Severe storms carry winds of at least 59 mph and/or 1-inch hail. In addition to winds strong enough to knock down trees and cause power outages, the storms could drop several inches of rain.
Upstate has a 5% chance of seeing isolated tornadoes, too, said the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center.
As the storm systems roll through slowly, torrential, long-lasting rain is likely. The weather service said it is prepared to issue flash flood watches later today as the storm picture becomes clearer, although the lack of rain so far this month will lower flooding risks.
National Grid said it is increasing staffing and extending work shifts in Western and Central New York in preparation for potential power outages.
Conditions are ripe for thunderstorms, with temperatures in the 90s expected for the sixth straight day amid high humidity. A heat advisory is in effect today as the temperature could reach into the low 90s and the heat index could near 100 degrees.
A series of waves of storm energy are expected to pass through Upstate today, one from Ontario and another, from Western Michigan, which will trigger the strongest storms. Those waves will start hitting Upstate New York by early afternoon and grow more intense tonight and overnight.
One national meteorological model shows 3 to 5 inches of rain could fall in counties along the New York State Thruway, but local weather service meteorologists expect significantly less than that. Forecasters in the Binghamton office, which covers Central New York and the Finger Lakes, expect more on the order of 1.5 to 2.5 inches across much of the region. In areas that are hit repeatedly by clusters of thunderstorms, however, more rain could fall.