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What to expect in the next 36 hours: Record-breaking cold, dangerous wind chills

It's been more than 80 years since the air's been this bitter for this long. At least three all-time records are in jeopardy Friday and Saturday.

Here's what to expect:


A frigid and breezy day with a high near 3 degrees and wind chills as low as -25, the National Weather Service said. There will also be some snow.

A wind chill warning is posted for all of Western New York though 7 a.m. Sunday.

"These wind chills are dangerous, as exposed skin can freeze in a matter of minutes," the weather service said.

Today's high temperature is sure to eclipse a 106-year-old mark for the lowest high recorded for the date in Buffalo.

The mercury isn't expected to break 3 degrees. The previous mark was 9. At 8:30 a.m., it was -1 degree at the airport.

Today is also forecast to be Buffalo's coldest high temperature since it recorded a 1 degree reading on Feb. 20, 2015.

The dangerous cold conditions prompted many school districts to close announce that schools would close today, including in Buffalo and Lockport.

Some face-numbing numbers are being reported by weather spotters to the National Weather Service in Buffalo this morning.

The winner so far of the coldest wind chill in Western New York is the Lime Lake/Machias area in Cattaraugus County with -29 degrees recorded at 4:35 a.m.

Warsaw in Wyoming County dropped to -28 degrees. Nunda in Allegany hit -27 degrees.

In Erie County, it was -22 at the airport where incidentally there's apparently a "sea of Zubaz" as Bills fans head to Florida for Sunday's playoff game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The high today in Jacksonville is 47. It's forecast to be in the mid-50s on Game Day.

The city of Buffalo, East Aurora and Springville all recorded -21 wind chills this morning.

Other notable lows included Batavia at -26 wind chills and -21 at the Jamestown airport.

Besides the significant cold, there will also be snow today, the weather service said.

The recent cold weather has put ice on the lakes, but not quick enough to thwart lake-effect snow.

As of Thursday, Lake Erie was nearly 60 percent covered in ice. But, the much deeper Lake Ontario only reported 13 percent ice coverage.

A winter weather advisory is posted for Niagara as well as Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties through 7 a.m. Saturday.

And, a lake-effect snow warning is in place through 7 a.m. Saturday for Orleans County.

Forecasters said that up to 8 inches of snow are possible in the most persistent lake snows downwind of Lake Ontario in Niagara County over that time period.

Orleans County residents could pick up 8-14 more inches of snow, the weather service said.

Forecaster said those will be combined with wind chills ranging from -20 to -30 at times.

In the Southern Tier areas, total snow accumulations of 6-10 inches are expected in spots where lake snows are concentrated with similar wind chills, forecasters said.

In the Buffalo area, there's a 40 percent chance of snow showers, but they shouldn't amount to much more than 1 inch.



Friday night

The frigid weather continues, and the mercury drops further.

Overnight, mostly cloudy conditions are forecast in Buffalo with lows near -6 degrees.

The thermometer is expected to drop from about 0 degrees at 9 p.m. and bottom out close to dawn on Saturday, forecasters predict.

With westerly winds gusting over 25 mph, it'll feel as cold as -25 degrees in Buffalo.

Temperatures could drop even further in low-lying inland valleys, with wind chills approaching -30, forecasters said.

What does -30° feel like?


The temperature won't rebound too much from the -6 low at dawn. Forecasters say that it could reach 2 degrees by early to mid afternoon.

This should mark the first time in Buffalo since Feb. 8-9, 1934 that the mercury doesn't get warmer than 3 degrees on back-to-back days.

It will also eclipse another 106-year-old record for the lowest high temperature for the date.

Wind chill values are forecast to remain in dangerous territory — as low as -25, the weather service said.

(National Weather Service)



There's a 20 percent chance for snow showers in the Buffalo metro area, mainly in the morning hours. Otherwise, it'll be partly sunny, forecasters said.



Saturday night


Lows around -6 degrees. Partly cloudy conditions are forecast in Buffalo.

Three days in a row with below-zero low temperatures would tie for third place on Buffalo's list of consecutive days with subzero readings.

Only February 1979, with six consecutive lows below zero, and January 2005, with four consecutive lows below zero, had more.

Wind chills will remain as low as -18 through dawn on Sunday, forecasters project.

Then, a "warmup."


Starting about 4 a.m. Sunday, the temperature will progress back above zero, into the double-digits by 11 a.m. and into the 20s by dinnertime, forecasts show.

It won't be done warming up either.

Up, up and away. Starting early Sunday morning, the thermometer will begin climbing toward the first above-freezing point in Buffalo in 2018. (NWS Buffalo)

The thermometer will keep climbing after dark, hitting eclipsing the freezing mark by 6 a.m. Monday for the first time in 2018, and the first time since Christmas Day's 33 degree high temperature.

"This warmup will come at a cost, however," the National Weather Service said.

There's an 80 percent chance for snow on Monday. Still, forecasters said the projected high temperature will reach 36 degrees.


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