How common is it to see remnants of tropical systems impact WNY?

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Over the past 24 hours, remnants of what once was Tropical Storm Fred has been bringing moderate to heavy rainfall across much of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. Even our neck of the woods here in Western New York has been seeing the rain from this system, and we’re still seeing rain as we speak!

Our warm and very humid airmass is creating the perfect environment for heavy rain and flooding. In the world of meteorology there’s a term called precipitable water, and when precipitable water values reach well over 1-2 inches like they are now the atmosphere is saturated and ready to provide a soaking rain. All of this tropical-like rain has been creating flooding concerns especially for places like the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes region all Wednesday long.

You may be wondering, how often can places like Western New York see the remnants of storm systems that were recently tropical storms or even hurricanes? It’s not super common, but it’s something that we do see here from time to time.

What we’re seeing right now is a perfect example of this, although what we’re seeing right now is NOT a tropical storm anymore. As these storm systems interact with land they weaken, but that doesn’t mean they can’t bring notable impacts on their own as a spinning area of low pressure that’s fueled with tropical moisture. Decaying tropical systems such as this one can still bring flooding rain, gusty winds, and even embedded thunderstorms with spin up tornadoes to an area.

Hurricane History

When else have we seen tropical remnants affect us? There are a few notable storms that have impacted places like Western New York such as Connie, Agnes, Sandy, Hazel and Fay to name a few.

Hurricane Connie formed over the mid-Atlantic in 1955, strengthened to a Category 3 Hurricane, then took an unusual northwesterly track across the Northeast before dissipating over the Great Lakes.

Hurricane Sandy back in 2012 was the fifth costliest Atlantic hurricane to occur on record and brought high winds to the region that caused uprooted trees among other impacts.

Storms Fay and Irene more or less provided a much more manageable amount of rainfall to the region on the order of 1-2 inches at best, but was still a tropical system that provided us with some nice rain. So the next time it does rain, check back on to see where the rain is coming from. Who knows, it may have some tropical roots!

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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