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Flakes few and far between in Buffalo, and there's a reason for that

A meteorological battlefield was drawn across Western New York today.

Buffalo and areas to the north won the fight against accumulating snow.

Thank strong high pressure over Quebec for that, forecasters at the National Weather Service said.

A passing storm system to the south helped to bring moderate snow across all of Western New York this morning.

But, for the most part, you could only see it in places like Springville, Jamestown and Olean.

What gives?

"There's a lot of dry air in the mid-levels," Jim Mitchell, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said this morning.

In other words, those steel gray clouds above downtown Buffalo produced snow way up in the sky, but the flakes were being eaten up by the dry air on the way down.

"It sublimates before it hits the ground," Mitchell said.

Except in the Southern Tier where the atmospheric column there was moist enough to allow the snowfall to make it all the way to the ground.

Up to 4 inches of it was possible by this afternoon, forecasters said.

The National Weather Service posted a winter weather advisory for Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties through 4 p.m.

National Weather Service radar confirmed the phenomenon this morning.

The composite radar image (left) from just after 9 a.m. today grabbed a slice of what's going on at higher altitudes in the atmosphere and showed snow was indeed falling across the entire region. In the weather service's base reflectivity image (right), the snowfall only reached near the ground across the Southern Tier and extreme southern Erie County. (National Weather Service)

Mitchell said in the northern tier of Western New York, the dry air extended as high as 10,000 feet above the surface but was being gradually lowered as more snow fell through the atmospheric column, moistening it.

Just after noon, it moistened enough to allow it to finally start snowing in Buffalo.


But it's not expected to last.

Chances for precipitation are expected to end this afternoon. Highs today will be in the upper 30s.

Friday brings another warmup with temperatures reaching into the upper 40s and rain expected to fall in Buffalo, the weather service said.

Chilly Thursday; wet and warmer for WNY Friday, weekend

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