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If a white Christmas is at the top of your holiday wish list and you live in the Southtowns, count on Mother Nature to come through.

With snow accumulations totaling nearly 2 feet in some areas this morning, police described driving as hazardous and urged motorists to use caution and common sense.

A temporary driving ban in Evans was lifted this morning, and in Hamburg, where 17 inches of snow fell, schoolchildren received an early Christmas present when school officials canceled classes today, one day ahead of the normal start of the holiday vacation, because of the heavy snowfall.

North Buffalo received no more than a dusting of snow, while anywhere from 2 to 5 inches fell in the southern portion of the city. The Northtowns escaped with little more than a dusting.

The lake-effect snowfall was expected to continue through tonight but taper off by Friday morning, except in extreme southern Erie County, according to Tom Niziol, a meteorologist with the Weather Service.

"The good news is the snow has already moved well south of Buffalo. The bad news is it's going to continue in places like Springville," Niziol said.

With temperatures expected to remain in the 20s Friday and possibly reach 30 degrees on Christmas Day, Saturday, the snow that has fallen is expected to remain.

The forecast for Christmas calls for some sunshine, with occasional snow showers, Niziol said.

Concerning the overnight snowfall, he said the amounts of snow that fell varied greatly.

"As is typical with these types of snowstorms and what makes them so difficult to pinpoint is the tremendous difference in snowfall over a very short distance.

"As an example, West Seneca and Elma had about 5 or 6 inches of snow, and by the time you worked your way another 12 miles north to Amherst and Williamsville, only 1 to 3 inches fell," Niziol said.

Because of the zero-degree temperatures about 2,000 feet up in the atmosphere, the snow that fell Wednesday night was dry, he explained.

"And that makes for excellent skiing conditions . . .," Niziol said.

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