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Lake snow warning issued for Southern Tier, advisory for southern Erie and Wyoming counties

The first serious snowfall of this season will be concentrated in the Southern Tier and the hills of southern Erie and Wyoming counties, the National Weather Service said Saturday.

The service issued a lake snow warning Saturday for Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties, and a lake snow advisory for southern Erie County and Wyoming County. The warning and advisory lasts from 4 a.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. Monday.

Still, “it should get cold enough to snow everywhere,” said James Mitchell, meteorologist at the Buffalo office of the National Weather Service.

The official warning and advisory mean 6 to 10 inches of snow is predicted to fall during that time in the higher terrain of the Southern Tier, and 4 to 8 inches in the advisory area.

Mitchell said a westerly wind across Lake Erie with air temperatures at or near the freezing point will turn rain to snow starting along the Chautauqua Ridge east of the New York State Thruway on Sunday morning.

Right along Chautauqua County’s Lake Erie shoreline, accumulations may be limited to about 2 inches during the snow event because of the warmth of the lake water.

“It’ll start during the day,” Mitchell predicted for Sunday, “with lighter snow, 1 to 3 or 2 to 4 inches.”

After sundown Sunday, the snow will fall more heavily until Monday morning.

As the lake-effect snow band weakens late Sunday and early Monday, it is expected to drift north, giving the Buffalo metropolitan area its only chance of catching some snow.

“If it holds together as it’s drifting north, we might get a coating Sunday night,” Mitchell said. “Niagara County, Orleans County, Genesee County, probably nothing.”

A lake snow warning is issued when forecasters expect at least 7 inches of snow in a 12-hour period, or 9 inches in a 24-hour time frame. The advisory means a prediction of 4 to 7 inches in 12 hours.

“The confidence level is the same,” Mitchell said.