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Warmth keeps snow at bay

Temperatures remained warm enough Friday to head off a forecasted significant chance of lake-effect snow, meteorologists at the National Weather Service said.

As much as a foot of snow was projected for portions of the Southern Tier, with Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties under a lake-effect snow warning. By 8 p.m. Friday, about 5 inches had fallen in Cherry Hill in Chautauqua County, just north of the Pennsylvania state line.

"Not quite cold enough," meteorologist Dave Sage said. "We sort of dodged a bullet in the Southern Tier."

Sage said Friday's temperatures remained above freezing, in the mid-30s, significantly cutting down on the accumulation.

But the snow that did accumulate was responsible for several accidents on area roadways. Three were reported within about 30 minutes in the Town of Evans, including one at about 4:45 p.m. on Route 5 in Derby.

A vehicle skidded off the road and overturned, Evans Police Lt. Ernest P. Masullo said.

The driver, Craig Kreiger, 35, of North Tonawanda, probably survived because of his seat belt and air bags, police said. He was freed from the wreckage in about 15 minutes and taken by Mercy Flight to the Erie County Medical Center, where he was listed in fair condition.

Other snow-related crashes occurred on Delamater Road and on Route 5 near Angola, police said. No one was seriously injured.

Cattaraugus County sheriff's officials also said several cars skidded off the road in the Ashford area.

Widespread lake-effect snow showers are forecast today, with 1 to 3 inches of additional accumulation in the Southern Tier and southern Erie County. The forecast for northern Erie and Niagara counties calls for a chance of rain and snow, with any accumulation not exceeding an inch.

Today's high temperature is expected to approach 40 degrees.

Football fans planning to attend Sunday night's matchup between the Buffalo Bills and undefeated New England Patriots in Ralph Wilson Stadium should plan to bundle up, Sage said.

At game time, 8:15 p.m., the skies are likely to be clear with temperatures at about freezing. As the night progresses, the mercury will dip into the 20s, Sage said.

"It will be the coldest night of the year thus far," he said.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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