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What to expect in the next 36 hours: wind, rain, snow, thunder, ice and cold

Call Thursday night and Friday "practice winter."

The coldest air of the season will thrust the Buffalo Niagara region into the icebox, but it will only last about 24 hours.

A pair of Arctic fronts will arrive in the region from the west-northwest early this evening and overnight. Expected are gusty winds, heavy rain, snow and thunder.

Behind the secondary front, record-breaking cold temperatures, and maybe some ice covered roads, are expected Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather service said the wintry weather will arrive abruptly Thursday night "and it will be a bumpy ride on the way in."

Here's what to expect:


A pleasant early afternoon with increasing southerly winds. Daybreak temperatures in the mid-30s should flirt with 50 degrees.

Late afternoon:

By about 3 p.m., increasingly gusty winds ahead of the approaching front are expected. They'll intensify and shift from the southwest to the west.

Ahead of the front, some lake-effect rain showers are expected.

Forecasters said those will mainly be confined along a line from Grand Island through Tonawanda into Niagara County.

This evening:

The leading Arctic front is expected to cross from northwest to southeast across the Buffalo Niagara region after about 8 p.m., according to radar forecast models. (

As the front passes, temperatures will drop rapidly.

Forecasters said the first strong Arctic front will "merge with" the lake-effect rain bands and pull them with them away from the lakes.

The weather service said a snow squall could also track across the Buffalo Niagara region with the frontal passage.

"The frontal squall is likely to be strongest east and northeast of Lakes Erie and Ontario with the added boost from the captured lake-effect bands," the weather service said. "There may be some thunder in these areas given the rapidly increasing lake-induced instability."

Forecasts show winds are expected to gust near or above 40 mph between about 6 and 9 p.m.

"The frontal squall will only last for 20 to 30 minutes in most areas," the weather service said.

Precipitation associated with this first squall line will likely be rain at first, except at higher elevations where mixed precipitation or wet snow is forecast.

After the squall line passes, cold air rushes in behind it, which will change the precipitation over from rain to all snow.

Accumulation will be minimal, forecasters said.


A "secondary Arctic front" is expected to cross the area, bringing more snow showers.

Forecasters said the rapidly decreasing temperatures could result in a "flash freeze" of precipitation that fell earlier as rain.

It's expected to be mainly concentrated on elevated areas like bridges and overpasses.

"This could make for additional dangerous travel conditions overnight where variable road conditions, from just wet to areas of black ice, can take drivers by surprise," the weather service said.

Temperatures are expected to plateau in the low 20s.

About 0.3 inch of snow is expected in Buffalo by daybreak Friday. Some spots in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties could see up to 3 inches as lake-effect bands set up from the northwest as far away as Lake Huron, forecasters said.

Gusty northerly winds could also pose a problem for the Lake Ontario shoreline.

A lakeshore flood warning is posted from 6 p.m. Thursday to 6 p.m. Friday. A "significant increase" in erosion along the shoreline is likely.


Friday's wake-up temperature will hover near 20 degrees in many spots of Western New York. (

There's a 30 percent chance for snow showers between 1 and 5 p.m. It will be frigid.

Wind chills are expected in the low-to-mid teens with daytime highs only in the 20s.

Two daily weather records are in jeopardy, including:

  • The lowest daily high temperature, which is forecast to be 27 degrees Friday. The coldest high on record for Nov. 10 is 30 degrees. It was set in 1877.
  • The low temperature is forecast to be 18 degrees. That would break a mark set Nov. 10, 1991. It would also be the earliest November reading that cold since 1991.

Friday night:

Mostly clear conditions with an overnight low of 18 degrees and light northwest wind.


Parly sunny with highs in the mid-30s on Saturday with an overnight low in the upper 20s Saturday night.

A chance for showers is possible after 1 p.m. Sunday.

Mostly cloudy conditions are forecast and temperatures moderate closer to normal in time for Sunday's 1 p.m. kickoff between the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints at New Era Field.

The high will be in the mid-40s, according to weather service forecasts.

Don Paul: Forecast for Bills-Saints game


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