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Elma regains lead in snowfall from Sunday's lake-effect onslaught

The lake-effect "snow machine" got in gear two weeks before Christmas, with a blast of colder weather coming this week when an Arctic front swings through the Buffalo-Niagara region.

The consistent pattern that began late last week dumped a foot of fresh snow Sunday afternoon in much of the Southtowns and portions of Wyoming County, and it will continue for the next few days, though much of the snow was expected to shift into the Southern Tier overnight into Monday.

"It's far from over," said Jeff Wood, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Buffalo office. "This is lake-effect snow. It's definitely December in Buffalo."

Here are the snow totals from Sunday's onslaught, according to the weather service:

  • Elma: 21.9 inches
  • Athol Springs: 20 inches
  • Orchard Park: 16.7 inches
  • West Seneca: 16.5 inches
  • Hamburg: 15.5 inches
  • Blasdell: 15 inches
  • Lancaster: 14 inches
  • Attica: 13.4 inches
  • East Aurora: 13.2 inches
  • Alden: 12 inches
  • Wales: 11.4 inches
  • West Seneca: 9.5 inches
  • Colden: 8.2 inches
  • Corfu: 8 inches
  • Buffalo Niagara International Airport: 2.6 inches

Storm snowfall tallies may change as more sources report to the weather service.

[Related: What to expect in the next 36 hours]

SUNY ECC closed its South campus Monday, so there will be no classes there.

In Lackawanna, the storm took out three plows, leaving the city down to eight. A travel advisory is in place there until 5 p.m. Monday.

Snowy conditions, with white-outs at times, particularly throughout the town and village of Hamburg, led to a travel advisory in Hamburg that remained in place until Sunday evening.

Sunday, traffic snarls and vehicles in ditches or stuck in heavy snow were reported along Route 219 and the Route 400 Expressway, State Police said.

"It's a mess out there now," Hamburg Police Dispatcher Matt Jurek said early Sunday night, noting that about 10 inches had fallen throughout the afternoon. "There are vehicles all over the place in the ditch, or stuck in the snow somewhere."

Travel into Buffalo along Lake Erie was a string of near white-outs with many vehicles flashing their hazard lights on roads that were not fully cleared as drivers were forced to make their own paths in some places.

Sunday's Buffalo Bills game and fan behavior kept Orchard Park Police busy, as did the weather. Before, during and after the game, the department reported that its officers responded to more than 100 calls for service due to car accidents, fights, criminal mischief, drunk people, and lost and found property reports. Slippery and snow-covered roads were to blame for many of the accident calls and reports of vehicles off the road.

Weather to come

Another area of low pressure coming from across the Great Lakes enters the area Monday evening into Tuesday.

"We'll see a general snowfall through all of Western New York of two to three inches Monday night, and that low will keep tracking Tuesday, and we could see an additional two to three inches," Wood said. "It's going to be a kind of a general snowfall, but not super intense lake-effect bands."

An Arctic front is on the radar for Tuesday afternoon into Tuesday evening, ushering in much colder air, with nighttime temperatures expected to dip into the teens and wind chills possibly going as low as zero.

Wood said lake-effect snow will then develop again Tuesday night. "We could see some in Buffalo," he said. "Northwesterly wind typically affects the Southern Tier and areas south of Lake Ontario, Niagara County and Rochester. It will stay cold and snowy for at least the first half of the week."

That will be a switch for Niagara County, where Niagara Sheriff's Department dispatcher Robin Zastrow said there was barely a sign of the white stuff Sunday night. "I don't think we have two flakes out there. There is nothing but green grass," he said. "My daughter and I were exchanging pictures, and she's in the Boston/Hamburg area, and it was crazy. It was just one of those days."

News staff reporter Jonathan D. Epstein contributed to this report.

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