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Lake-effect snow band expected by 4 p.m.; more snow in coming days

Game-day travelers, beware: It's going to be a very snowy day throughout metro Buffalo, especially in and around Orchard Park, where the Buffalo Bills host the Indianapolis Colts.

Here's a look at what's coming in the next 36 hours.

Sunday afternoon

As the National Weather Service predicted earlier in the day, "significant lake-effect snow" moved north into the Buffalo area through the afternoon, especially in the Southtowns and up through Thruway Exit 53, where the Niagara Thruway splits off from the mainline Thruway, said meteorologist Shawn Smith.

Orchard Park, Elma and other areas south of the city were hammered during the game, where the field was covered with snow. Snow was also falling and blowing at a brisk pace in downtown Buffalo.

By late afternoon, road conditions had already deteriorated in many areas. An Orchard Park police dispatcher said roads in the town were "terrible" shortly before the Bills game ended, adding that "a lot of vehicles are off the road," and urging people to "stay out of Orchard Park."

Similarly, a dispatcher at the Erie County Sheriff's office referred to Elma as "pretty bad," and a state police dispatcher in Batavia said Erie County officials had been "getting quite a few calls."

"The plows are out and they're doing the best they can but it's coming down faster than they can keep up with it," the Orchard Park dispatcher said.

A lake-effect snow warning continues through 7 a.m. Monday for Wyoming, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and all of Erie County. That's an expansion from previously, when the warning for Erie County covered only the southern portion, including Orchard Park, Warsaw, Jamestown, Olean and Springville. Genesee County was also added to the warning.

A winter-weather advisory was later added for northern Livingston and Monroe counties.

The most persistent bands - anticipated to generate "upwards" of 6 to 12 inches - are now expected in northern Erie County and Genesee County, as well as in southern Erie through Chautauqua County.

And Smith said a band would be sitting "right over the Buffalo Southtowns and potentially even the downtown metro area" by 4 p.m. Sunday, and would hold there until at least 7 a.m. Monday before it shifts to the south again.

"So we are expecting this lake-effect snow to bring some significant travel impacts for anyone doing any activities this afternoon or evening, whether they're coming home from the game or holiday shopping," Smith said.

He warned that the band will "likely sweep across the Orchard Park region" during the afternoon, and "roads will quickly become snow-covered and slippery, with very low visibility." Snow may fall at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour, accumulating quickly.

"It should make some interesting conditions there, as well as potentially some hazardous travel on the way home, especially with the flood of cars out of the area back into the city or out on the Interstate."

Smith noted that lake-effect bands are "always fairly narrow in width, so the entire region won't see snow at once," but it's going to sweep through Western New York throughout the day.

"This is Buffalo. This isn't the first lake-effect snow we've seen, but they always do bring significant impacts," he said. "Pretty much all of Western New York outside of Niagara County and Orleans County, we are expecting lake-effect snow to impact the region."

Temperatures will be in the low 30s.

Don Paul's updated Bills game forecast: Frigid wind chills, afternoon snow

Sunday night

The heaviest lake-effect snow is expected in the late afternoon and evening. The weather service forecast urged drivers to take care.

"Narrow bands of heavy lake-effect snow will produce very low visibility and deep snow cover on roads at times, leading to difficult travel conditions," the forecast said.

Monday

The lake-effect warning expires at 7 a.m. Monday and most of the area will be fairly dry for a few hours.

But Monday night and into Tuesday morning there will be a generalized snowfall over all of Western New York which will drop between 2 to 3 inches across the entire area Monday night and potentially another 2 to 3 inches on Tuesday, Smith said.

"Everyone will be able to pick up some snowfall from that one," he added.

Additionally, more lake-effect snow is expected to develop Tuesday night and into Wednesday, so "we'll be looking at additional accumulations."

Temperatures are expected to range from the high 20s to the low 30s.

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