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Winter storm watch posted south of Buffalo; 'up to 16 inches' possible by Saturday

Updated forecast: Lake-effect snow could impact metro Buffalo overnight; may affect Friday AM commute

An unseasonably warm and rainy day Wednesday was just enough to melt some of the snow pack from last weekend's snowstorm.

Lake-effect snows are forecast to pile on what was left behind between Thursday and the weekend.

A winter storm watch was posted for southern Erie County along with Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties from late Thursday through Saturday morning, the National Weather Service said.

Weather service forecasters said heavy lake-effect snow was possible with accumulations of 8 to 16 inches in areas where persistent lake snows fall.

"Travel could be very difficult to impossible," the weather service said. "Narrow bands of heavy snow could impact portions of the region. Localized travel problems will be possible."

Lake-effect snows are expected east of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario Friday morning with the passage of a cold front and a stalled Arctic boundary north of Lake Ontario. (Weather Prediction Center)

A frigid pattern was also expected thanks to a swift-moving area of low pressure and a trailing Arctic cold front late Thursday. The storm system and frontal passage could bring up to a couple inches of widespread snow on Thursday.

Temperatures were forecast to drop from the low 30s on Thursday into the teens overnight, remaining there for the balance of the day Friday before plunging back into the single-digits overnight Friday. Wind chills near zero were forecast.

The heaviest lake snows are forecast east of Lake Ontario. "Multiple feet of snow with hourly rates exceeding 2 inches," is possible, the weather service said.

Areas downwind of Lake Erie will be affected less, but significant accumulations are still possible, especially across the Chautauqua Ridge and areas within the boundaries of the winter storm watch, the weather service said.

"While significant accumulations will be possible off Lake Erie, rates and totals should pale in comparison to those of its sister lake to the north," the weather service said. "Stay tuned."

Slick morning commute possible; scope of lake-effect snow expanded

Areas of western Wyoming County and Allegany County could also be affected, according to analysis by Don Paul, a contributing meteorologist to The Buffalo News.

Paul said he also expected some lake snows could affect parts of Buffalo's Southtowns and possibly areas of South Buffalo, Depew and Lancaster ahead of the Arctic front.

A cold, wintry pattern is forecast to really dig in next week.

Forecast models show frigid polar air will grip much of the Great Lakes. Forecasters project temperatures could run 30 to 40 degrees below normal.

The average high temperature in Buffalo during the last week of January is 31 degrees.

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