The worst is almost over.
The lake-effect snow warnings and advisories are due to expire Tuesday. For the traditional Snow Belt areas in southern Erie County and northern Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties, where up to 2 feet have fallen since Sunday afternoon, the warning will be lifted at 7 a.m. Tuesday, 24 hours earlier than originally forecast.
"Conditions are not going to be conducive to lake-effect as a high pressure system is building across the Ohio Valley,” National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Hibbert said Monday evening.
Nevertheless, the snow was heavy enough Monday evening to prompt a number of schools in Cattaraugus County to announce that they will not be holding classes Tuesday. As of 10 p.m., officials in the Cattaraugus-Little Valley, Hinsdale, Randolph and Salamanca City school districts said they would be closed. Also closed Tuesday is the Seneca Nation's Allegany Office in Salamanca.
As for that other lake-effect zone, the area south of Lake Ontario in Niagara and Orleans counties, a lake snow advisory is posted until 7 p.m. Tuesday, but only about 2 more inches are expected during the day Tuesday.
Buffalo and its suburbs will see only occasional snow showers Tuesday. Just a trace of snow fell Monday at the NWS office at Buffalo Niagara International Airport in Cheektowaga.
Thanks to the wind, which will continue to gust up to 35 mph Tuesday, the snow that's already on the ground will continue whipping up into drifts and creating whiteouts. The wind chill will make it feel like the thermometer is in single digits, despite afternoon highs in the low to mid 20s.
The wind chill Monday evening dipped to 10 below zero in Jamestown, thanks to air temperatures in the teens combined with a west wind gusting above 20 mph.
Monday's high was just 18 degrees, one degree colder than Jan. 4, the previous coldest day in Buffalo so far this winter.
By this date last winter, there were already six daily highs that didn't make it out of the teens, and nine nights with lows in the single-digits or below.
Temperatures will remain slightly below normal this week, when the average high is 31 degrees and the average low is 18 degrees.
Here's what to expect:
Tonight: Low 14°
Tuesday: High 22°, Low 17°
Wednesday: High: 25°, Low 16°
Thursday: High 26°, Low 14°
Friday: High 29°, Low 18°
Saturday: High 25°, Low 16°
As for the lake-effect snow, the northwesterly flow will generally keep significant accumulations in the extreme southern Erie, Wyoming and throughout portions of the western Southern Tier, including Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties, forecasters said.
Additional accumulations of 5 to 9 inches today is forecast in "persistent bands" with up to 7 more inches overnight, forecasters said.
That "will bring storm totals into the 15 to 20 inch range in persistent snows from Sunday through Tuesday morning," according to the weather service forecast discussion.
Sheriff's officials in Cattaraugus County warned the motoring public to stay off of the roads, unless absolutely necessary.
In a statement, sheriff's patrol said that the cold temperatures, combined with road conditions by heavy lake-effect snow, render regular radial tires "ineffective" and can "pose significant risk" to other motorists who are properly equipped with snow tires:
Although metro Buffalo escaped a new round of snow Monday, radar images showed other areas like Niagara, Orleans and counties across the Southern Tier were getting hit hard by lake-effect snow.
The strength of the weather flow was so strong that one band was observed on radar stretching from Lake Huron across the northern tier of the region all the way to Rochester.
Meanwhile, the weather service updated the most recent round of lake-effect snowfall that fell Sunday across Western New York.
The Buffalo Niagara International Airport received 5.8 inches of snow Sunday. Heaviest depth was in Perrysburg, where a spotter measured 18 inches Monday morning.
Other totals included: Sardinia, 9.1 inches; Snyder, 6 inches; Williamsville, 5 inches and Kenmore, 4 inches.
Major coastal snowstorm possible this weekend
Meanwhile, forecast models are starting to project what could turn into a major snowstorm for the East Coast this weekend.
The corridor between Washington, D.C. and New York City looks to be the most affected, according to early models and forecasters at AccuWeather.
Local forecasters report, however, that the Buffalo Niagara region would at most receive a glancing blow from the storm, picking up some synoptic snow on the westernmost fringe of the system.