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City dwellers send the weekend's 'big chill' off in style

Many folks who ventured outdoors in Western New York on Sunday probably had the same question on their near-frozen lips:

How long is the big chill going to last?

The good news there is that a warm-up should start today.

But others not so concerned with the temperature seemed to ask a different question: "What chill?"

Take Ryan Byrne, a teenager sporting a thin orange jersey as he shot pucks at an ice rink in Cazenovia Park. The hockey player at Bishop Timon-St. Jude High School was getting ready for a game later in the day.

"Gotta get the hands ready," he said.

So what if they're frozen?

Ryan Creek, 10, was also skating around the rink. He said you don't notice the cold if you keep moving around.

Along Delaware Park's Ring Road, a reporter spotted four cross-country skiers and five joggers in the span of 22 ear-numbing minutes. North Buffalo resident Ginny Bechtel was walking her 12-year-old dog, Jed, a Lab mix. They walk the park each day. It's part of his rehab routine after falling from a 30-foot-high window a couple of years ago.

West Side resident Steve Vozella was strapping on cross-country skis with plans to spend an hour or two in the park.

"If you're dressed for it, it's not bad at all," he said.

But back to the first question: Should we count on this cold snap continuing?

According to the National Weather Service, the situation will begin to get better today.

Tom Niziol, a meteorologist at the weather station at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, predicted Sunday that today will take a more moderate turn.

"We should be up to the mid-20s by midafternoon. There should be some wind and snowfall [tonight], but by midafternoon on Tuesday, we should be up to the mid-30s."

After that, the region will see relatively normal January weather for the rest of the week, with most communities experiencing highs in the mid-20s and lows in the teens, without major wind problems or snowfall.

A blast of arctic air has caused unusually cold weather since Thursday. The coldest temperature measured in the region so far this year came early Saturday morning in Jamestown, at 4 degrees below zero.

The cold snap takes its toll on road conditions. When temperatures fall below 15 degrees, salt is rendered ineffective in melting ice. Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Steven J. Stepniak encouraged early-morning commuters to block out extra time and be aware that their routes might be dotted with icy patches.

Buffalo has used more salt than usual for this time of the year. While the city still has about 7,000 tons in reserve, Stepniak said he plans to ask the mayor and Common Council this week for to approve additional money to buy more salt.

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com and dherbeck@buffnews.com

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