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Wake Up Call

It was about 8:20 a.m. this morning when a deep, long thunder rumble swept across my home off Elmwood Avenue, rattling the windows like a jet's sonic boom. Ten minutes later, small hail fell for a couple of minutes, leaving a thin film on the flat roof of my garage. Ten minutes after that, wind gusts wobbled the leafless limbs of trees.

It was a dramatic announcement of change. A cold front swept through Western New York and by supper time, temperatures are expected to drop 10 degrees, into the low 30s. Lake snows are forecast, although it looks like the areas east of Lake Ontario (the Tug Hill Plateau in particular) would get a bigger dose than those east of Lake Erie.

Still, the National Weather Service issued a Lake Effect Snow and Blowing Snow Advisory for southern Erie County and all of Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Wyoming counties, with two to six inches of snow a possibility by the time Friday morning rolls around.

-- John F. Bonfatti


Today's morning commute

On the drive into work this morning there were dark, ominous clouds bordering white fluffy clouds bordering blue sky with sun. There was also rain. And wind.

Some stretches of the road were wet enough to cause hydroplaning. Down a ways the pavement was bone dry.

  All that weather unfolded on the drive downtown from Williamsville on the 33.

I kept looking for a rainbow and some snow flurries, but maybe they will be part of the adventure driving home tonight.

  You can complain about Buffalo's weather, but on a day like this, you can't complain about a lack of variety.

-- Susan LoTempio

Arctic Express Bearing Down

   The National Weather Service is forecasting the coldest weather so far this winter for the upcoming weekend.

   Friday's daytime high will struggle to reach freezing, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures will moderate slightly on Saturday, but with a west-southwest wind flow, forecasters are keeping a close watch on the potential for lake effect snow in metro Buffalo.

  --- John F. Bonfatti

Hold up on that snowblower purchase

The chief long-range forecaster for AccuWeather is feeling more and more confident that we will experience a mild winter.

Joe Bastardi updated his winter forecast Wednesday, and in it, he forecasts that we will see our worst weather of the winter early in the season, and perhaps at the very end.

Bastardi is forecasting that January will be the warmest month with respect to average, which would mean 15 to 20 percent less heating fuel will be used that month. Warmer than normal temperatures will continue into February, he says.

Overall, Bastardi says, homeowners could possibly see a 10 to 15 percent decrease from last year on the amount of fuel they will use to heat their homes.

That would certainly be a welcome change for all but those folks who get heat included in their rent.

-- John F. Bonfatti

All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray

Those lyrics by the Mamas and the Papas came into my mind this morning as I walked up my leaf-filled driveway.

I wasn't "California Dreamin'." It just seemed there were many more leaves down than the morning before, although the trees are by no means bare. Peak foliage time has long passed in these parts, and the Web site the Foliage Network indicates that leaf drop here was nearly complete as of the last report, Nov. 10.

I notice a lot of trees in Buffalo are still hanging on to their leaves but what were vivid oranges and reds are now dull browns and greens, which tells me it won't be long before their inevitable gravity-induced tumble to the ground.

How's it look outside your window, Western New York? Have your trees emptied themselves yet?

-- John F. Bonfatti

Enjoy it while it lasts

Tuesday and Wednesday look like two of the nicest days we'll see in some time.

The National Weather Service sees mostly sunny skies for the rest of today, and maybe even some sun Wednesday early in the day before the possibility of rain enters the picture.

The warm temperatures this afternoon will actually increase into the high 50s, some 15 degrees above normal, Wednesday afternoon but as the day progresses, an advancing front will bring markedly colder temperatures.

The cold temperatures will be accompanied by some lake effect precipitation Thursday into Saturday. It looks mostly like rain, but stay tuned...

-- John F. Bonfatti

Dreary days ahead

It's a day like today that makes you quickly forget the months of beautiful sunny weather we just enjoyed, and realize we are heading into the season when the sun pulls its disappearing act.

We WNYers are superb at coping with the cold and the snow. And the ice and the slush. But those never-ending dreary and overcast days drive most of us to the brink of despair - usually by early February.

Late fall and early winter would be a breeze if only the sun would make an appearance a couple of days a week. Depression rates would drop proportionally.

Today is Nov. 9 and it's an unbearable to think that we have four to five months of dark and dreary days ahead of us.

This weekend I plan to stock up on Vitamin D, and pray that the cost of mid-winter flights to Florida don't go sky-high.

-- Susan LoTempio

Getting the Golden Snowball rolling

And we're off!

That 2.5 inches recorded at Buffalo Niagara International Airport Tuesday is the first shot in the annual snow competition between upstate New York's major cities, the New York State Golden Snowball Award.

Syracuse-area resident Pat DeCoursey deserves a lot of credit for reviving this friendly competition, which originated among upstate National Weather Service forecasters. He deserves even more credit for maintaining a Web site ( devoted to the winter-long race.

One of the blog's regular contributors, who goes by the handle The General, has made his prediction for this year's winner. Surprise, surprise, he picked Syracuse, which has won this award since it was reinstated in 2003.

The General predicts Syracuse will have 125 inches this season (up from the average of 111.9), followed by Buffalo (105), Rochester (95), Binghamton (85) and Albany (65).

Buffalo averages 97 inches a year. Bet the over or the under this year?

-- John F. Bonfatti

First snowfall totals

The National Weather Service posted a few snowfall totals from yesterday/today's storm on its Web site ( this morning.

In the 24-hour period ending at 7 a.m., Mayville got 6.8 inches, Warsaw 3 inches, Cheektowaga (the weather service's office at the airport) got 2.5 inches, Perrysburg got 2 inches and Wales and Franklinville 1inch each.

The airport in Rochester received only a trace, while a couple of communities on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario also got lake effect accumulations.

If it's white, it must be ...

Not sure if the Weather Service will record it as Buffalo's first official snowfall of the season, since none was sticking to the ground, but white precipitation pelted passersby downtown for some of the morning. In my mind, that means winter is here.

The thermometer in my car said 41 degrees, but as I drove 15 minutes south on Elmwood Avenue toward downtown, the air was filled with small hail.

Further south, along the Lake Erie shoreline in Chautauqua County, radar showed the classic lake effect band running parallel to the shoreline. The heaviest snow seemed to be falling in Erie County, Pennsylvania, but southern Chautauqua County was also well covered.

The Weather Service issued a lake effect snow warning at 7:24 a.m., and said the snow would move north and settle along a roughly 25-mile-wide stretch on either side of the Cattaraugus/Chautauqua County line. Snow could even reach as far north as South Buffalo in the afternoon, before sliding south again in the evening.

In those areas getting lake effect snow, snowfall rates are expected to be in the 2-inch-an-hour range, and accumulations are expected to be in the 6- to 12-inch area.

That reminds me: time to put the ice scraper/snow brush in the car.

-- John F. Bonfatti