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What to expect the next 36 hours: Heavy snow with accumulations of 4 to 6 inches possible in the Buffalo metro area overnight

Whenever you are reading this today, this is as warm as the temperature will be.

That's because, after a peak of 60 degrees late this morning, the mercury is on a rapid downward descent.

The rain and melting snow led the National Weather Service to issue a flood warning by 7 p.m. for Tonawanda Creek at Batavia and Cattaraugus Creek at Gowanda.

Tonawanda Creek is expected to rise above flood stage late Friday night, with possible flooding in Kibbe Park, as well as Walnut and Law streets, according to the weather service.

In Gowanda, flooding is possible along the right bank a half mile to a mile downstream from Gowanda, mostly in industrial and commercial areas.

Avoid driving vehicles through flooded roads, officials advised. The water may be deeper than it appears.

An arctic front began rushing through the Buffalo Niagara region earlier in the day, at about 11 a.m.

The temperature at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport dropped from 57 degrees to 41 degrees in an hour. By 2 p.m., it was in the 30s.

It was 22 degrees at 8 p.m.

 

Here's what the National Weather Service says to expect:

Today

The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement just before noon today to warn of an impending "flash freeze" in Western New York:

(NWS Buffalo)

Niagara Falls was reporting freezing rain at 2:30 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Buffalo's temperature dropped from a high of 60 degrees late this morning -- to 34 degrees as of 3 p.m., then beyond.

Meanwhile, swollen creeks and streams from Thursday's great January melt-off of the area's snow pack and the more than half-inch of rain that fell in the Buffalo area continue and several flood warnings are posted.

Flood warnings are posted for several Western New York creeks and streams, including Cattaraugus Creek, Tonawanda Creek, Oatka Creek and others. (NWS Buffalo)

The flooding will start to abate later today, but it will take the help of the arctic front to do it.

A winter storm warning is also in effect for Niagara County, Erie County and the western Southern Tier until 1 p.m. Saturday.

The weather service said that it appears that cold air associated with the front will sweep into the region near the surface first. That will leave warmer air higher up in the atmosphere, which matters because it will bring several hours of mixed precipitation.

"As temperatures plummet to below freezing from west to east across the forecast area, rain will begin to transition to a freezing rain/sleet mix to snow," the weather service said.

In Niagara County and northern Erie County, forecasters said to expect rain to change over to mixed precipitation, including sleet and freezing rain between about 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., with the best chances for ice in the 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. hours.

Then there will be a lot of snow.

And wind.

"Plan on difficult travel conditions," the weather service said.

Total snow accumulations of 6 to 11 inches are forecast, with about a tenth of an inch of ice expected.

"Winds gusting as high as 35 mph will cause areas of blowing and drifting snow," the weather service said. "Be prepared for significant reductions in visibility at times."

In southern Erie County and the Southern Tier, forecasters said travel will be "very difficult to impossible" with snow accumulations of 7 to 14 inches with an expected coating of two-tenths inch of ice.

Farther east, in Orleans, Genesee and Wyoming counties, a winter storm warning is posted for 4 p.m. and extends until 4 p.m. Saturday.

Similar conditions are forecast there, with higher snow totals. About 9 to 17 inches of snow could fall in places like Albion, Batavia and Warsaw, the weather service said.

Tonight

By early evening, precipitation will be all snow. And it will be heavy.

New snow accumulations of 4 to 6 inches are possible in the Buffalo metro area overnight, the weather service said.

There's a 100 percent chance for precipitation.

Temperatures will return to the teens by midnight and dip down to about 12 degrees by dawn with a brisk northerly wind.

By Saturday evening, expect up to a foot of snow in many places across Western New York. (NWS Buffalo)

Saturday

By dawn, the temperature will be about 45 degrees colder than it was just a day earlier.

The best chances for snow will come in the morning, forecasters said. Then, they said, there's a 50/50 chance of snow showers between about 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Otherwise, it'll be mostly cloudy and frigid.

Daytime high temperatures are expected to be about 13 degrees, with north winds making it feel below zero most of the day.

By Saturday night, temperatures are expected to dip to a low of about 4 degrees.

Wind chills will remain at, or below, zero, forecasts show.

Beyond

It'll stay cold Sunday and Monday, too.

Highs are expected in the low teens on Sunday with mostly sunny skies. It'll drop to near 3 degrees Sunday night.

There is a slight chance of snow before 8 a.m.

On Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the daytime high is forecast to be 20 degrees under mostly cloudy skies, the weather service said.

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