Aug. 9 was a volatile day in Western New York when it comes to weather. Following a string of heavy rains and thunderstorms in the morning and afternoon throughout our area, the sun arrived - and with it, plenty of humidity.
While dewpoints soared, many headed indoors or to swimming pools to cool down. Later that evening, that humidity led to even heavier downpours across our region. Those rains had no mercy on Gowanda and Silver Creek.
By 11:30 p.m., Gowanda was already under water as the Cattaraugus Creek was at flood level. Those raging waters then hit Silver Creek, devastating a mobile home park and condemning another group of houses near creeks in the village.
Photo by John Carney
Homes destroyed by flooding are being demolished in Silver Creek and Gowanda.
As noted by Mike Pukajlo of the National Weather Service Buffalo Station, it was a matter of the wrong conditions coming together at the wrong time.
Storms came in two widespread lines and may have been part of a derecho. Literally Spanish for "straight," a derecho is a sustained windstorm that travels in a straight direction, often carrying with it thunderstorms similar to a squall line.
"We had a couple rounds of, if not actual derechos, very similar conditions with these thunderstorms," Pukajlo said. "One batch came through; they had intense rainfall with them. That first batch came through, got things going, and then the second batch came through with equal or greater rainfall amounts than the first.
"Since creeks and streams were already running pretty much at bank-full due to the first round of activity, it just couldn't hold any more."
The result of these storms include millions of dollars in damages and a number of families and individuals still needing additional assistance or waiting for more information on insurance or how the Federal Emergency Management Agency will assist.
Inside our C section today is a look back at the havoc wreaked by the storm and how our communities rallied to help. It is something many will want to keep for the future to remember the bad - and good - that has resulted.