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Arctic cold snap expected to last until Thursday

The arctic cold snap arriving in Western New York tonight may not be as windy or snowy as the Blizzard of ’14 three weeks ago, but it looks like it’s going to last longer.

It’s prompted the National Weather Service to issued a wind chill warning for the entire region from 3 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, promising wind chill values as low as 25 below zero.

As of 10 p.m., the temperature had already plummeted to four degrees after a relatively balmy daily high of 30 degrees in the wee early hours of Monday. With a west wind gusting to more than 20 mph this hour, the wind chill value was in the minus-teens.

And brace yourself for another wind chill warning late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Remember: the blizzard was over in a day and a half. This frigid spell isn’t expected to break until Thursday.

After daytime highs in the single digits Tuesday, meteorologists are predicting lows below zero Tuesday night, along with winds of 20 mph or more, once again producing wind chills of 25 below.

The current wind chill warning also cites the danger of frostbite and hypothermia for anyone who is outdoors for even a short time without proper clothing.

A “blizzard” is defined by the weather service as when visibilities drop below one-quarter mile and winds are at least 35 mph.

“We’re not going to have any of that, but it’s going to be very cold,” said Bob Hamilton, meteorologist. “If you’re outside for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, you’d start to run into a problem, probably.”

The forecast of bitter cold caused numerous school districts to cancel classes Tuesday, some for the second straight day.

Officials have announced Tuesday closings for Orchard Park, Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda, City of Tonawanda, West Seneca, Holland, Iroquois Central and Springville-Griffith Institute schools. Others will wait until Tuesday morning to decide whether to hold classes.

In Buffalo, schools will be closed, except for high school students taking the January Regents exams. School staffers are told to report as usual.

On Jan. 7, temperatures dipped to 5 below zero and winds gusted up to 38 mph. The outlook for Tuesday morning calls for lows around zero, perhaps a few degrees colder, with wind gusts up to 36 mph. Wednesday morning isn’t looking much better.

Snowfall, however, should be lighter than what fell during the blizzard. Forecasters expect only an inch or two, but reckon that there will be plenty of blowing and drifting snow. Driving is likely to be very tricky before noon Tuesday.

There also will be plenty of today’s snow to be kicked up by the wind gusts. Pre-dawn snow showers and a narrow lake-effect band during mid-afternoon produced about 4 inches of new snow in the Buffalo area.

Snowfall for the season so far measures 80.8 inches, nearly two feet above the normal figure of 58.6 inches. This month’s total of 42.3 inches is 19.9 inches above normal.

News Staff Reporter T.J. Pignataro contributed to this report. email: