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'Powerful' Arctic front may pack a quick whiteout, thunder, 'flash freeze'

"Winter will arrive abruptly," warn National Weather Service forecasters of an approaching Arctic front scheduled to arrive in Buffalo Niagara later Thursday.

Afternoon lake-effect rain and gusty winds ahead of the front are expected to quickly change over to snow in many spots by evening.

"This could produce a snow squall tracking across the forecast area with the front," forecasters said. "This may only produce perhaps only a few tenths of any inch of accumulation, but when combined with gusty winds, this may result in dangerous whiteout conditions on area roadways."

Forecasters added that the squall line may also bring some roars of thunder, especially closer to the warmer waters of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

Can you spot the Arctic cold front? It's the U-shaped blue arc with the pointy barbs stretching from the Great Lakes back to Idaho. (National Weather Service)

Because of the earlier precipitation and expected quick drop in temperatures — from the 40s into the 20s — forecasters cautioned that "a flash freeze is possible."

Elevated surfaces like bridges and overpasses will be especially vulnerable to black ice, the weather service said.

That could impact Friday morning's commute.

The cold air behind the front is expected to be not only the coldest air of the season in Buffalo, but also the coldest air for the date.

Friday's forecast high temperature of 27 degrees would shatter the all-time record for a daily low temperature on Nov. 10.

The record was set in 1877. It dropped to 30 degrees that day.

Also, with Friday's low temperature forecast to bottom out at 17 degrees, it would be the earliest in the season it's been this cold since 1951.

The temperature at Buffalo dropped to 12 degrees on Nov. 5, 1951.

Temperatures will moderate somewhat Saturday and return closer to normal in time for Sunday's game between the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints at New Era Field.

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