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After snowy jab, a frigid hook

We’ve all known we’ve had it coming.

And now it’s here.

The mercury will be stuck in the single digits and minus territory today. When you factor in the wind chill, it feels much colder than that, according to the National Weather Service.

“It will warm up to 2 on Saturday, and drop down to minus 9,” said Steve Welch, a meteorologist with the weather service in Buffalo “But the wind chill will make it feel like minus 25.”

Temperatures are expected to rebound slightly on Sunday to a high of 12 degrees, with no wind chill to speak of. But the low could reach minus 10. The polar bear-friendly temperatures through Sunday will extend to the Northtowns, and into southern Niagara and western Orleans counties.

The first blast of the Arctic front that blew in Friday – though it resulted in schools being closed for 34,000 Buffalo public school children – was still kinder and gentler than what arrived Saturday.

The temperature Friday stood at 12 degrees at 8 a.m., and lingered at 22 degrees in midafternoon, with wind gusts at 37 miles per hour. A snow band, which hit the Buffalo area around 5 a.m., left fairly heavy snow on the ground for a couple of hours before shifting south.

Friday was a day of wildly changeable weather as relatively clear skies were replaced by sudden bands of snow. And, just as quickly, the snow came to an end. The official snow total at Buffalo Niagara International Airport was 3.9 inches as of Friday evening. Leading the 24-hour snowfall totals, according to spotter reports, were Amherst and Clarence Center with 9.8 inches.

Oylanda Velez of Buffalo said her son was disappointed to miss his Valentine’s Day party at school.

“They could have gone to school today,” she said.

Her plans for Valentine’s Day? “Staying indoors,” Velez said with a laugh.

Her friend, Betsy Eagan of Lewiston, added: “Something in the crockpot.”

Reggie Cadet said staying indoors sounded good to him, too.

“I’m going to be in the house all day tomorrow. It’s a movie day,” he said.

Temperatures on Monday are expected to rebound to around the freezing mark, with Tuesday getting into the upper 30s.

Greg Hilbert, who said he plans to “hide from the weather,” said he’s been concerned about the irregular weather Buffalo has been experiencing this winter.

“Maybe politicians will start addressing climate change,” said Hilbert, who added “Feel the Bern” in a reference to Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who has made climate change one of his top issues.

Buffalo Public Works Commissioner Steve Stepniak said the city sent out extra crews starting at 3 a.m. Friday to put salt on the roads. There were 40 crews hitting the streets by the afternoon.

“We have very flexible crews on 12-hour shifts, and we evaluate shift to shift on the personnel needed,” Stepniak said.

He said his department kept an eye on conditions for Friday night’s Buffalo Sabres game and the auto show, which is running at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said he was more worried about the ultra-low temperatures and poor visibility than he was about this weekend’s snowfall, which should only amount to a few inches.

“We can handle 10 to 18 inches of snow. We can handle two feet of snow,” he said Friday. “I’m less worried about that. I’m worried about the white-out conditions in conjunction with cold temperatures.”

Those are the conditions where people can die, he said.

Residents could wind up in accidents, trapped on the road, or risk having a heart attack when they attempt to shovel in frigid temperatures, he said. Given the fact that the temperatures are expected to move above freezing by Monday, he said, it’s best to put off errands and outdoor activities until then.

He also said the county is working with its partners to make sure homeless people are moved indoors to a shelter, in keeping with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s mandate. Those who refuse may be taken to a hospital by police for evaluation.

The county had 25 plows on the road Friday.

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