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December’s record snowless streak predicted to end with lake-effect snow Friday

Nothing lasts forever, particularly a December without snow.

Buffalo’s record run deep into late autumn without a measurable snowfall is in serious jeopardy Friday.

A couple of inches of snow is forecast through Saturday night in northern Erie and Genesee counties, where a lake-effect snow advisory was posted by the National Weather Service.

A lake-effect snow advisory was in effect for southern Erie – areas south of Route 20A – as well as Wyoming, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.

The Southtowns, including places like Eden, could accumulate up to 8 inches of snow depending on location, forecast maps show.

And areas across the Southern Tier – especially in the higher terrain areas of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties – are looking at the prospect of a foot or more of snow.

It won’t be a long event in the most populated areas, but the lake-effect snow band could make things rough for Friday afternoon rush hour.

“Timing is probably not going to be good for the afternoon commute,” said Jon Hitchcock, meteorologist at the National Weather Service. “We expect it to move north from early to late afternoon into the early evening.”

It’ll be a quick reintroduction into winter driving techniques.

The storm will bring the first significant snowfall of the season for metro Buffalo, which had only registered a trace of snow on several occasions earlier this fall.

The late arrival of any measurable snow, which is defined by the weather service as at least one-tenth of an inch, eclipses the former record – Dec. 3, 1899 – by more than two full weeks in what has been the warmest two-week start to December on record in the city.

While many will see areas of white Friday, some spots north and northeast of metro Buffalo and farther south from the Lake Ontario shoreline might not.

“It’s going to be a really close call if we get any at the airport. It’s right on that line,” Hitchcock said. “There probably will be a strip from Grand Island, Niagara Falls, Pendleton that won’t get anything.”

The band will shift southward into ski country late Friday night and remain there most of Saturday.

To put it in perspective: By this date last year, the airport weather station had already logged 30.4 inches of snow. And that’s not taking into account the much higher amounts in other areas that had been socked by the double lake-effect snowstorm during November.

This snowstorm is being generated behind a passing cold front that will tap into a deepening area of chilly air from the northern reaches of Saskatchewan.

But, just when you might be inclined to welcome snow in the final week leading up to Christmas, think again.

Most of the snow will melt by early to mid next week when temperatures rise again – back into the 50s.

That will set up for what is certain to be a green Christmas, according to forecasters.

“It’s going to warm right up again,” Hitchcock said.

Mostly sunny conditions are forecast for Sunday with highs in the low 40s. Temperatures climb toward 50 again Tuesday. It’ll be breezy with a chance of showers, according to forecasts.

Wednesday is expected to be in the low 50s with an even warmer day on tap Christmas Eve that could challenge the 59-degree record for the date set in 1964.