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Another Round Of Thunderstorms W/ Heavy Rain & Localized Flash Flooding Wednesday Afternoon & Night

Another round of potentially very heavy rainfall from thunderstorms with flash flooding looks likely across the entire area Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday night. In fact, this flood threat looks to be a MUCH, MUCH bigger issue for our area than Hurricane Lee will ever be. A cold front is expected to push through the region late Wednesday into Wednesday night. The air mass out ahead of this front is expected to be very humid and loaded up with water. Because of this, the thunderstorms that move through will easily be able to produce torrential downpours. Current indications seem to point towards heavy showers and thunderstorms first overspreading Western Mass during the late morning hours of Wednesday. These heavy showers and thunderstorms are then anticipated to overspread Central Mass around early afternoon Wednesday. Heavy showers and thunderstorms are then expected to continue throughout the afternoon on Wednesday across the entire area before ending first across Western Mass by early Wednesday evening and then ending across Central Mass between 8 pm and midnight Wednesday night. By far, the main threat with the heavy showers and thunderstorms will be excessively heavy rainfall. This heavy rainfall will lead to the flooding of streets, highways, underpasses, low-lying areas, areas of poor drainage and areas that are prone to flooding. The Wednesday afternoon and evening commute may be significantly impacted by these thunderstorms with heavy rainfall and flooding. I am extremely concerned about areas including the Fitchburg, Leominster and Princeton areas as well as the Springfield Metro who have already seen severe flooding. Any additional heavy rainfall will only exacerbate an already really bad scene and these areas may see the possibility of flood waters rushing into homes and buildings, road washouts and structural damage. Overall, I’m thinking widespread rain totals of 1 to 2 inches are expected during Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night with localized rain totals of 3 to 5 inches possible. These rain totals will not only worsen the existing flooding, but it will probably also produce new areas of flash flooding. In addition to the heavy rainfall and flood threat, it’s also possible that some of the thunderstorms may be on the strong to severe side, especially with the tropical air mass that will be in place. This means that a few of the thunderstorms may be capable of producing 35-50 mph wind gusts, frequent lightning and even a possible tornado or two. That said, I want to emphasize that the threat for flooding is much, much greater than any severe weather. Latest On Hurricane Lee: It still looks like Lee will pass about 150 miles east of the Cape during the day on Saturday. That said, there seems to be two track ideas when looking at the model guidance - The first is a due north or north-northeast track that takes Lee towards Nova Scotia. The second track idea is one where the hurricane gets partially captured and pulled northwestward right into the Maine coast. When looking at history and my own experience in forecasting tropical storms and hurricanes (I’ve been forecasting tropical storms and hurricanes since 1992 with my main business Crown Weather Services), there is really no precedent at all for a tropical system hitting the Maine coast from a southeasterly direction. Usually, tropical storms and hurricanes either arrive in both Maine and all of New England from the south or southwest, not the southeast. So, I’m pretty skeptical that we will see Lee take a northwesterly track right into the Maine coast and instead I’m leaning towards one that takes the storm right into southern Nova Scotia or even the Bay of Fundy late Saturday. What This Means For Western & Central Mass Is That the biggest threat looks to be some very gusty winds from a north and northwest direction throughout the day on Saturday. At this point, it appears that northerly winds may gust up to 25 to 35 mph at times across Western Mass and up to 30 to 50 mph at times across Central Mass throughout the day on Saturday. These very gusty winds could definitely be a big issue due to the combination of trees still being fully leafed and the ground being super saturated. This means that trees will be pretty susceptible to being blown down leading to the potential for isolated power outages across Western Mass and scattered power outages across Central Mass. As for rain, if Lee passes 150 miles or so offshore of the Cape, it would mean any meaningful rainfall would be confined to areas inside of Route 128 and across the Cape. In fact, it’s possible that skies may feature a mixture of sunshine and clouds across Western Mass with more clouds than sunshine across Central Mass. That said, it is possible that some of the outer bands of rain could put down a few showers mostly during the morning on Saturday across Central Mass while Western Mass stays dry. Finally, it needs to be strongly emphasized that the forecast track of Lee is still not absolutely certain and is likely to shift around some more throughout the rest of this week. Because of this, changes to the forecast for Saturday are very likely, so stay tuned.

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