It's back. Winter, that is.
"Winter took a break, a long vacation in January, but it's really come back in force," National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Hibbert said today.
Lake-effect snow returned Sunday and early today, dumping as much as a foot of snow on its targeted area, mostly in the Southern Tier and southern Erie County.
The snowstorm, packing high winds, closed at least eight school districts in southern Erie County, plus virtually all the schools in Chautauqua County. Among the local school districts closed were East Aurora, Eden, Alden, Springville, Pioneer, Iroquois, Holland and North Collins.
A winter storm warning remains in effect through 6 p.m. Tuesday, in southern Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Wyoming counties, while Buffalo, its northern suburbs and the inner-ring towns to the south escaped with much less snow.
Only the timing of the lake-effect snowstorm was unusual.
"Even though it's early February and we expect Lake Erie to be frozen, it's not, and we're getting snow we normally see in early December rather than early February," Hibbert said.
The heaviest snowfall was reported in the Southern Tier, in Perrysburg, Arkwright and South Dayton, where some elevated areas received 10 to 12 inches of snow Sunday.
"We're looking for more than two feet of snow down in that area before this winds down Tuesday," Hibbert said.
The forecast calls for continued cold and high winds tonight, before the wind starts to die down late tonight and early Tuesday in much of Western New York. The weather is expected to turn milder late in the week, before a possible return to cold and wintry conditions again over the weekend.