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AND THERE'LL BE SNOW FOR EVERYONE

Skiers, rejoice. Football fans -- well, better just bundle up.

Snow will pile up in the Buffalo area today, particularly in the Southtowns and the Southern Tier, where accumulations could exceed 6 inches by the end of the day, weather experts said Saturday.

Which will make for some grouchy fans heading to Orchard Park, where the Buffalo Bills will take on the Miami Dolphins at 1 p.m. in a frosty Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"Our guests from Miami won't feel very welcome," joked Patrick O'Hara, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

But the reaction was the opposite in ski country.

"It looks like Sunday should be a bonus day for us," said Mark Halter, president of Kissing Bridge in Glenwood.

The snow will move from the Southtowns into the City of Buffalo later today, and over the next day or so will give practically every suburb something white and fluffy to shovel, according to Weather Service experts.

"Everybody's going to get some snow," said O'Hara. "Nobody's going to get none."

At the same time, temperatures that reached as high as 43 degrees Saturday -- a wet and sloppy day with mixed snow and rain -- were expected to plummet to the low 20-degree range in Erie County overnight, said O'Hara.

Over the next several days, high temperatures will remain in that low 20-degree range, O'Hara said. Part of the effect of that cold snap will be to lower the temperature of Lake Erie, which currently stands at 42 degrees, a bit below normal for this time of the year, he said.

Temperatures won't warm up to above freezing again until later in the week, O'Hara said. Early forecasts for Tuesday and Wednesday call for cloudy skies and cold temperatures, with scattered snow showers.

On the brighter side, accumulations in ski country are expected to reach 6 to 10 inches over the next few days, he said.

That made for some happy people Saturday at area ski resorts.

The Web site for Holiday Valley in Ellicottville was promising an opening this weekend, and at Kissing Bridge, executives said the ski slopes will be open for business by midweek.

"We've got cold weather coming in tomorrow; that will let us get a significant base down," Halter, the Kissing Bridge president, said Saturday. "Tomorrow is going to be a huge snowmaking night for us."

The cold snap and snowfall combined with some concentrated snowmaking efforts will allow Kissing Bridge to open a bit earlier than usual this year, Halter said.

"This is actually a pretty early start for us," he said.

e-mail: cvogel@buffnews.com

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