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What to expect in the next 36 hours: Record-breaking cold

Pretty much everyone throughout Western New York woke up Sunday morning to below-zero temperatures – from minus 5 in Buffalo to minus 11 in Olean.

It also got down to minus 11 in Little Valley, minus 12 in East Randolph and minus 10 in Cattaraugus.

Cold, to be sure. But wait a few days. We are headed for worse, with temperatures as much as 25 degrees below normal.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for record-breaking temperatures New Year's Day,  with a low of minus 3 in Buffalo. The record of zero for Jan. 1 was set in 1970. It will feel even colder with the wind chill.

Here's what to expect in the next 36 hours:

Overnight low temperatures from the National Weather Service.

New Year's Eve

When the ball drops at midnight at the Electric Tower at 535 Washington St., the temperature will be around 3 degrees but feel much colder – minus 6 with the wind chill.

"Definitely bundle up," said National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Welch. "It will be even colder inland."

There is just a slight chance of snow.

New Year's Day

Partly sunny but brutally cold. We'll hit a high of 14 briefly around 2 p.m. But wind chill values will range from minus 5 to minus 20, depending on location and time of day.

The Weather Service posted a "hazardous weather outlook" about the conditions. These are potentially dangerous temperatures that can cause frostbite quickly to exposed skin.

There is a chance of snow, mainly before 10 p.m.


The temperature will increase a bit to a high near 21, with a slight chance of snow and partly sunny skies. But don't relax.

A true arctic air mass is headed our way for Thursday and Friday, bringing with it temperatures that may struggle to reach the low single digits. Combined with persistent winds, prepare for bitterly cold conditions.

"It's going to be very cold, especially on Friday," said Welch.

Meanwhile, Lake Erie isn't quite frozen over yet, which would calm the lake-effect snow machine. The water temperature is at 33 degrees.

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