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Green Christmas due to turn white

OK, so maybe that white Christmas you were dreaming of didn't work out for you this year.

If it's any consolation, there should be snow for you today.

As much as four inches of snowfall is possible today across the Buffalo region, as a low pressure system pushes north from the Gulf Coast and ushers in colder air and low temperatures in the 20s, according to the National Weather Service.

Rain is expected to change to wet snow this morning, then turn into snow showers by the afternoon, said meteorologist Steve McLaughlin.

"It could get kind of nasty in the afternoon on Tuesday," McLaughlin said, "so people who are going to be out exchanging holiday gifts may have to deal with some wintry weather."

While snow may have been missed Monday, the green Christmas made for an easy time traveling to holiday gatherings and dinners, including for an estimated 125 to 150 people who dropped in for an early Christmas dinner at the Friends of the Night People on Hudson Avenue.

"This will be a combination of homeless and working poor," said Dr. M. Steven Piver, chairman emeritus of the Friends' board of directors, who helped with meals Monday. "A lot of people are one paycheck away from eating here."

Sixteen members from Temple Beth Zion dished out ample helpings of ham, turkey, mashed potatoes, yams and other fixings. Socks, scarves and gloves were handed out at the door. It was the 24th year volunteers from Temple Beth Zion pitched in at the agency on Christmas day.

"We just want to wish them a merry Christmas, and hope they have a better year," said Leslie Garfinkel, one of the volunteers.

Today's snow will be a change of pace. Temperatures have been running almost 8 degrees above normal during the month, and reached a high of 50 degrees on Monday at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

It was, in fact, the warmest Christmas day in 19 years -- the temperature hit 51 degrees in 1987 -- and only the 10th time in 136 years of recorded local weather history that temperatures in the Buffalo area reached at least 50 degrees on Dec. 25, McLaughlin said.

The region had only a trace of snow last Christmas, but prior to that enjoyed accumulation on Dec. 25 -- the peak of lake-effect snow season -- for seven straight years from 1998 until 2004.

"In case you think it has been a little unusual," McLaughlin said, "it has been."

The warmest Christmas recorded in Buffalo was in 1982, when it hit 64 degrees.

That year was also the warmest December in history, but there's a chance that record can be broken this year.

"We just might do it," McLaughlin said, "because next weekend it looks like we'll end with a couple of warmer days."

Temperatures are expected to climb well above freezing again on Friday and Saturday.

e-mail: jrey@buffnews.com

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