Coming off the warmest February in Buffalo's history, it seemed an early spring was already at hand.
Arctic-sourced air will be calling the Buffalo Niagara region its home for at least a week, and possibly longer.
That means daily temperatures could run as much as 20 degrees below normal for mid-March, along with snow and frigid wind chills.
So keep the parkas, mittens and toques close by.
Forecasters said cold air builds into the Great Lakes region late Friday, setting up a persistently cold northwest flow.
On average, temperatures reach the low 40s during the day and drop back to the mid-20s overnight this time of March.
That's not going to happen this week.
The extreme cold starts tonight as brisk northwest winds – and air temperatures in the teens – will make it feel below zero between Friday night and Saturday morning, forecasts show.
"It will be a raw, mid-winter-like weekend across Western and North-Central New York," the weather service said, "featuring temperatures more representative of January normals rather than mid-March."
Here's what to expect over the next several days:
Forecasters are keeping their eyes on the potential for a strong winter storm along the East Coast early next week, which could bring some snow to parts of Western New York.
When that moves away, however, more Arctic air will take up residence over the Eastern U.S. for the balance of next week, forecasters said.
"Temperatures will remain well below-average for the foreseeable future," weather service officials in Buffalo reported in a statement Friday.
That means thousands of visitors to Buffalo will be treated to cold weather when March Madness returns to the city on Thursday.
Early forecasts suggest Thursday will be mostly sunny with a high temperature of about 31 degrees. That's 14 degrees below normal for the date.
Historically, NCAA visitors to Buffalo haven't been treated to unseasonable March warmth.
In the previous five visits to the city, data shows the weather has been mostly chilly and snowy.
It has snowed 80 percent of the time and the average temperature has run below normal for three of the previous five visits.
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