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Lake effect snow watch issued, but the worst is yet to come

The lake-effect snow machine is predicted to drop 6 to 10 inches of snow south of Buffalo from Sunday night through Monday night, but that’s just a warm-up.

National Weather Service meteorologist David Church predicted Saturday that by midweek, the hardest-hit areas in Round 2 could be in for “several feet” of snow.

From Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday, or perhaps as long as Thursday, “There could be a pretty prolonged lake-effect event east of the lakes,” Church said. “The potential is there for several feet of snow. We’re still trying to pin that down.”

By several feet, Church said, he means 2 or 3 feet, not like November 2014’s totals of 6 or 8 feet – probably. It’s still too early to tell.

“Everybody should just be ready to hunker down,” Church said.

The National Weather Service posted a wind advisory starting at 10 p.m. Saturday for southern Erie and Chautauqua counties, for gusts of 50 mph or more from southeast winds ahead of the shift to arctic air that will trigger the snowfall.

Another wind advisory, for gusts of 50 to 55 mph from the southwest, goes into effect for all of Western New York on Sunday afternoon and lasts through Sunday night.

“It makes travel difficult for higher-profile vehicles, some property damage, minor power outages,” Church said.

That will aggravate driving problems in the snow areas. The boundary for the lake-effect watch that’s in effect from 7 p.m. Sunday through 7 p.m. Monday is Route 20A, meaning Orchard Park, Hamburg and East Aurora are included.

But there’s a chance that the snow will shift north into the City of Buffalo on Monday afternoon. “As you get into the rush hour, it will lift into the city for a few hours,” Church said. With snow predicted to fall at an inch per hour, Buffalo might see a fast 2 inches, maybe as much as 5 inches if the squall stalls within the city limits.

“Then everybody will pick up a little light snow late Monday or early Tuesday,” Church said. That will be caused by a fast-moving arctic clipper moving through the area with a snowfall for all of Western New York of 1 to 2 inches.

After that comes the potential big blast, which right now is expected to be in the traditional snow belts south of Buffalo, although the forecast remains uncertain for midweek.

Saturday, Buffalo had a spring-like day with a high temperature of 49 degrees, well below the record of 64 degrees set in 2008, but pleasant nonetheless. The temperature was forecast to hit 52 by midnight, but was to fall all day Sunday, leading to highs in the 20s for the rest of the week.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com