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Record high temperatures in Massena preceded nasty thunderstorm

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MASSENA - A 52-year-old temperature record was broken in Massena Wednesday as temperatures soared into the upper 80s before a vicious thunderstorm passed through the region.

The high temperature Wednesday was 88 degrees, passing the previous record of 87 degrees for Sept. 11 set in 1961. The temperature was reported at Massena International Airport.

Meteorologist Andy Nash from the National Weather Service, Burlington, Vt., said that Wednesday’s low temperature was 69, just three degrees off the record for the highest low, also set in 1961.

While the daytime saw soaring temperatures, the evening hours included rain, hail, thunder, and an impressive display of lightning.

“Lightning hit close enough to the house that it made everything snap, crackle, and pop inside. The sky was just bright with lightning. It wasn’t too much thunder as it was the lightning. You could hear the thunder now and then but the lightning just kept lighting the sky right up,” South Colton resident Fred Toomey said.

“We didn’t see any trees and branches or anything down. We didn’t get the heavy wind as much as all of that lightning. We got a heavy rain storm for 10 or 15 minutes. Once it cooled down, the lightning settled down,” he added.

It was better viewing than television for some storm watchers. “We stay up late anyway. We enjoyed it. We left our front door open and saw the lightning all night and the rain come down at different times. The heavy downpour was unusual, I thought, and the lightning just stayed around forever too,” Massena resident Darrell Dailey noted.

In a 24-hour report from 7 a.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday, the National Weather Service reported a total of 2 inches of rain at Massena International Airport. Mr. Nash added Ogdensburg had 2.63 inches of rainfall and Hannawa Falls had 2.98 inches recorded.

“At Massena airport, the highest report was half an inch in one hour. That was the highest amount I saw,” Mr. Nash said.

On top of the high temperatures and thunder and lightning combination, strong hail and gusty winds made an appearance.

“We had a couple reports (high winds) in St. Lawrence County. In the county we had some nickel-sized hail in Ogdensburg around 9 p.m. (Wednesday) evening. Also, there was a report of tree down in Morley last night around 9 as well,” Mr. Nash said.

Snow may still be two or three months away but when this amount of rain falls, people sometimes wonder how rain totals compare with snow totals. Mr. Nash said that the two cannot technically be compared because of the cooler atmosphere in the winter leading to less moisture. However, he also added that in general it takes 1 inch of rain to equal 12-15 inches of snow.

Some St. Lawrence County residents were impressed with Wednesday night’s weather show. Some were actually entertained. But many, like Massena resident Barbara Gibson, would likely prefer a quiet, peaceful, cool late summer evening. “I was sitting in my computer room and all of a sudden this horrible, horrible ‘Crack!’ Thunder came and it was scary,” she said.

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