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'Significant lake-effect' snow coming this week, weekend

Oh, it's happening.

Lake-effect season will arrive in the Buffalo Niagara region this week, according to National Weather Service forecasters.

"A significant lake-effect event will likely develop Wednesday and persist through Thursday night or Friday morning for locations east and northeast of Lake Erie," the weather service said in a hazardous weather outlook.

This morning, the weather service issued a winter storm watch for all of Western New York, except for Allegany County from Wednesday night through late Thursday. It would be the first major snowstorm of the season to affect the Buffalo metro area, which is already more than 10 inches below average in snowfall so far this season.

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As of today, only 0.2 inches has been logged at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

A pool of cold air rushing over a the 45-degree waters of Lake Erie could boost that snow total 100 fold in just a couple of days later this week.

Up to 20 inches or more of snow expected in some spots, according to the weather service.

Winter storm watch for Northern Erie and Genesee counties. (National Weather Service)

If you prefer the unseasonable warmth, today's weather looks to be the last best day for that.

Buffalo will be in the warm, but wet, pocket between a warm front and an approaching cold front Tuesday. Behind the cold front, lake-effect snow is expected to develop Wednesday through the end of the week. (National Weather Service)

Forecasts call for clouds to decrease with some sunshine expected Tuesday and highs in the mid 50s. The average high for Dec. 4 is 40 degrees.

An approaching cold front will make for a mostly wet Tuesday. It'll stay warm, however, as southerly air is pulled up ahead of it. Daytime highs are forecast to return to the mid-50s. Winds could be gusty, as high as 38 mph, forecasters said.

Then, cold air is forecast to rush in behind the front late Tuesday into Wednesday morning. Temperatures will fall.

"In terms of placement, model runs over the last 24 hours have trended toward a more southwesterly wind direction," the weather service stated today in its forecast discussion. "This will likely bring accumulating snowfall to the Buffalo metro area, especially for the Northtowns, during the Wednesday morning commute, with potentially moderate to heavy snowfall rates."

The orientation of the snow band will alter later Wednesday, forecasters said.

A more west-southwesterly flow will direct the lake-effect snows southward across the Southtowns and into the Boston Hills and Wyoming County, weather service forecasters said.

The weather service expects it will continue south to affect the shoreline of Chautauqua County and places like Perrysburg overnight into Thursday before "drifting back northward across the Buffalo Southtowns through the day Thursday."

Temperatures in the 30s are forecast Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with overnight lows in the 20s.

Then, forecasters are keeping a close eye on what could turn into lake-effect snow, Part II:

"After the first lake-effect event is disrupted Friday by a wave of low pressure moving through the area, a second significant lake-effect may develop for the weekend into the beginning of next week," forecasters pointed out in its hazardous weather outlook.

"There remains plenty of uncertainty at this time range with the details of band placement and intensity."

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