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LAKE-EFFECT SNOW ON THE HORIZON CITY, NORTH SUBURBS MAY FACE ONSLAUGHT BEFORE WINDS SHIFT

The brief winter preview Monday that snarled traffic and brought heavy coats out of storage is expected to be followed by a double dose of snowfall later today, according to weather forecasters.

And this time, Buffalo, its northern suburbs and Niagara County may be hit the hardest.

With winds hammering Western New York from the southwest, a lake-effect snowstorm began pelting Niagara County late this morning, carrying the potential of a 2-to-4-inch snowfall. As the wind shifts to a more westerly direction, the lake-effect snow was expected to sweep farther south in Erie County and the Southern Tier later today.

Meanwhile, the last remnant of a large weather system that has been plaguing the Northeast and Midwest for the last few days was expected to dump another inch or so on Western New York.

"It's a double whammy, I guess you could say," National Weather Service meteorologist Tom Niziol said.

The National Weather Service today also issued a high-water advisory for the east end of Lake Erie. The combination of high water levels and tall waves could create some lakeshore erosion and localized flood problems.

Monday's storm also was blamed for a power outage that affected roughly 500 customers in the Silver Creek area overnight after a tree reportedly fell on a power line.

Following Monday morning's nasty little snowstorm, the snow turned to rain in the afternoon, but not before icy roads claimed one life and precipitated numerous minor collisions as motorists were forced to relearn winter driving tactics.

Bonnie M. White, 44, of Bullis Road, Elma, was killed about 2:05 p.m. Monday when her car slid into the path of a truck on icy Clinton Street in the Town of Elma. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Erie County sheriff's deputies said Mrs. White's car was westbound on Clinton when the car slid into the eastbound lane and was hit a truck driven by David L. Betker, 35, of Hoerner Avenue, Cheektowaga.

Betker was treated in Mercy Hospital and released. A passenger in the truck, Joseph Schanne, 30, of Weaver Street, was transported by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center, where he was listed in fair condition Monday night.

Minor collisions were so numerous Monday that car-phone users reported 38 accidents to state police at Clarence via the department's cellular "911" line, Sgt. William Pistner said today.

During the morning rush hour, when snow and sleet were falling and winds were gusting to 24 mph, police reported a collision between a Carrier Coach bus and a car in West Seneca, five multicar pileups on the Kensington Expressway and a traffic accident with minor injuries in North Collins.

"The first day like this everybody has to learn to drive all over again," said Jerry Hooven, manager of Automobile Club of Western New York's member service center.

Just over 3 inches of snow fell between 6:45 a.m., when the storm moved into Buffalo, and 5 p.m. Monday. That brought to 3.9 inches the total snowfall since Oct. 1, compared to a normal snowfall of 15.6 inches through Dec. 3.

However, by this morning, the fourth day of the month, Western New York already had picked up about half its normal December precipitation, as measured by snow melting to water. The four-day total reached about 1.5 inches of precipitation, compared to a normal December total of about 3 inches.

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