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What to expect in the next 36 hours: inches of rain today, snow on Sunday

As precipitation goes this weekend, Buffalo will get about 10 times more today than Sunday but with a fraction of the drama.

That's because today's precipitation will fall as rain. Then, there's a chance for about an inch of snow in the Buffalo metro Sunday.

Other areas, especially in the higher terrain of the Boston Hills or along the Chautauqua Ridge, are expected to pick up several inches more as a northwesterly flow over Lake Erie helps to generate lake-effect snow, according to the National Weather Service.

Here's what to expect in the next 36 hours:

Today: Between three-quarters and an inch of rain is expected across much of the Buffalo Niagara region as the much-anticipated weekend storm system arrives from the west.

Heavier rainfall today is expected south and west of Buffalo along the southern shoreline of Lake Erie, however, parts of Western New York could expect close to an inch of rain today. (National Weather Service)

Forecasts show rain is likely between about 5 and 11 a.m. today and then between 2 p.m. today and 2 a.m. Sunday. It'll be warm with a southerly flow ahead of a deepening area of low pressure expected to cross directly over Lake Erie.

Highs today are expected in the low 50s.

Tonight: Winds will pick up later just before midnight and gust as high as 38 mph into the morning hours as the storm system arrives. Behind a strong cold front, winds will shift out of the northwest, and temperatures will drop from the mid-40s around midnight to the mid-30s by 7 a.m.

Precipitation will fall as rain before 3 a.m. before switching over to snow toward dawn. Marginal accumulations are forecast in the Buffalo metro area, but a half-inch or so is possible in ski country.

Sunday: It will be noticeably cooler, with a 50 percent chance for snow in the metro Buffalo area. Temperatures will make it into the upper 30s but with a sharp west-northwesterly wind gusting over 30 mph, it'll feel like its near 20 degrees during the afternoon and into the teens by dinnertime. Less than an inch of snow is possible in metro Buffalo, with as much as 4 inches expected in ski country.

"Winter headlines may be needed during this period, as a transition to accumulating lake snows takes place southeast of both lakes," the weather service said.

Sunday night: Cold air will continue filtering into the region from the northwest. That could result in some more lake-effect snow for areas southeast of Buffalo. Chances for snow in the metro area drop to about 30 percent with temperatures bottoming out in the upper 20s. A pesky west wind will continue, gusting to near 30 mph. That will make it feel like it's in the teens.

By 8 a.m. Monday, some areas in the Southern Tier and higher elevations of Wyoming County could see as much as 7 inches of lake-effect snow. (

Monday: As high pressure builds in again, lake-effect snow is forecast to diminish. Any chances for snow would come in the morning. Otherwise, it'll be partly sunny with a daytime high near 40 degrees, the weather service said.

Beyond: After a tranquil sunny day near 50 degrees Tuesday, another storm system with a cold front is forecast to approach the region late Tuesday, setting up the potential for more rain and snow by Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day.

"This colder air will generate lake instability with details of how much moisture and wind direction to still be resolved relating to lake-effect snow potential for Wednesday and Thursday," the weather service reported.

Early projections peg the Thanksgiving Day high temperature near 38 degrees.

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