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Heavy winds to whip through region tonight

2:30 p.m.: A line of thunderstorms that will whip through the region this evening is expected to bring damaging winds.

A wind storm that slammed the midwest earlier today will arrive in Western New York after 5:30 p.m. with thunderstorms and strong winds.

The area could see gusts of wind between 35 and 50 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

A tornado watch is in effect until 9 p.m. for Cattaragus and Chautauqua counties.

"As it crosses Western New York, the strength won't be as great," David Thomas, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said this morning. "But even if it's weakening, it will still produce gusty winds producing damage in Western New York."

The storm -- a "deep and broad area of low pressure out across the plains" -- is slicing east across the country. It produced strong wind gusts and knocked out power in the midwest this morning, but is forecast to weaken before it arrives in Western New York. 

The National Weather Service expects the storm to hit Chautauqua County between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. and will move through the Buffalo area sometime between 6 and 7 p.m.

The severity of the storm will depend on its strength once it arrives in the area.

The wind gusts will likely bring down small branches with leaves and toss lawn furniture and garbage cans around, Thomas said.

The rain is expected to move quickly through the region and to last about an hour. 

Meanwhile, temperatures today will climb toward the record high this afternoon. The National Weather Service has forecast a high near 72 degrees today in the Buffalo area. The record is 77 degrees set in 1991.

After that, temperatures will drop about 10 degrees a day until Friday, Thomas said.

That means chilly temperatures are in the works for Halloween on Sunday. The National Weather Service currently calls for a high of about 54 degrees Sunday. There is a slight chance of showers.

"By the time trick or treaters go out, it will probably be in the 40s," Thomas said.

Check out how people enjoyed the warm weather this morning in this video:

--Denise Jewell Gee


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