February looked a lot more like February today around the Buffalo Niagara region.
An unusually warm start to the month kept the lake waters of Erie and Ontario wide open. That allowed late-season lake-effect snowfall to barrage much of Western New York.
By dawn, most of the region woke up to a landscape covered in white.
Lake-effect snow warnings are posted for southern Erie, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties with up to a foot of new snow expected by Thursday morning. The weather service called for 3 to 5 inches to fall today, 2 to 4 inches more overnight and 1 to 2 additional inches of snow early Thursday.
Meanwhile, additional warnings were also posted by the weather service this morning for Niagara, Orleans and counties running south of Lake Ontario. Those warnings remain in effect until 4 p.m. Thursday. Depending on location, 7 to 15 inches of snow is expected in those areas, weather service forecasters reported.
Mixing in westerly wind gusts up to 30 mph and visibility could be reduced to one-quarter mile, forecasters said.
Then, later today "a progressively colder Arctic-sourced airmass" will spread across the region. That will help bring more lake-effect snow across the region Friday, and drop temperatures into the single-digits and below zero later in the week.
Forecasters reported that instability in the atmosphere and the right set up of wind direction will allow for a good "fetch" off of Lake Erie starting late Thursday. Portions of the Buffalo metro area could be affected by lake-effect snow Friday morning. That snow band could extend as far east as Genesee and Wyoming counties, according to forecasters.
Exact amounts are still uncertain but will become clearer as the weather pattern develops over the next 24 hours.
Then, "a powerful arctic front will surge south across the region Friday evening," forecasters reported.
That will drop temperatures to near zero and below at times for the weekend and "will produce dangerously cold wind chills late Friday night through early Sunday morning."