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Toss aside those rakes and grab the golf clubs. Trade your hoodie for a T-shirt and hot spiced cider for hot dogs and hamburgers.
It’s bonus summertime.
And the clock is ticking.
For the next two days, Western New York will bask under sunny skies with near-record, summerlike warmth. National Weather Service forecasters call for a high of 76 degrees today, just a single degree below the record for the date set in 1963.
“It’s going to be a great day. For the month of October, you couldn’t ask for better weather,” said Aaron Reynolds, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
Mostly sunny conditions are expected to prevail Friday with temperatures near 70 degrees.
This brief warm spell is being generated by “a conveyor of warm air” from the southeastern United States, according to Weather Service meteorologist Bill Hibbert. High pressure off to the east and a low out to the west are driving a ridge of very warm air into the region, he said.
“Enjoy the next couple warm days and nights,” Hibbert advised, explaining that October is one of the region’s most changeable months. The average daily high temperature drops from 65 degrees Oct. 1 to 54 degrees by Halloween. Today’s average high is 56 degrees.
“It’s about as unusual as it gets,” added Hibbert of today’s predicted weather, pointing out that most of the record-high daily temperatures in late October stand in the mid- to high 70s.
The summerlike weather will be knocked out late Friday by a cold front that will usher in cool and damp days for the weekend.
Highs in the low 50s are expected Saturday, with rain likely. There are chances of rain in the forecast Sunday and Monday, with highs dipping into the mid-40s and overnight lows in the mid- to upper 30s. That pattern prevails through at least next Thursday, according to Weather Service forecasts.
Today’s warm weather is welcome news for a lot of people, from kids wanting to play outdoors to house painters, late-season hot dog stands and ice cream scoopers.
“We have some exterior jobs we’re trying to wrap up right now before it gets too cold too paint, so getting two solid days in a row gives us an opportunity to do that,” said Jeff Catrabone, vice president of Braendel Painting & Services in the Town of Tonawanda.
Lisa McNaney and her father, Dennis, owners of the Red Top hot dog stand along the Hamburg lakeshore, served some charbroiled hots to a few stragglers on a misty Wednesday afternoon. All the talk of the warmer weather pointed toward an uptick in sales today and Friday.
“From your lips to God’s ears,” Lisa McNaney told a customer who arrived at the hot dog stand with news of the impending return of summer.
Autumn’s hot dog business usually isn’t like business at the first break of spring weather. A warm day in March or April is a far bigger deal than a similarly temperate day in the fall, said the McNaneys, since at the end of winter, folks can’t wait to get out for that first taste of summer.
Still, they admitted, warm, sunny weather does help drive business to the hot dog stand, which stays open until Thanksgiving. And as the father-daughter team peered westward across Lake Erie, gray skies began giving way to late-afternoon sunshine.
“We hope to be busy,” said a smiling Dennis McNaney.
Phil Buffamonte, whose Parkside Candy business includes ice cream fountain service, also said he was looking forward to the miniheat wave.
“Our ice cream business always falls with the weather. If the weather’s good, we do well,” Buffamonte said.
The warm weather is expected to be a plus for other Buffalo inhabitants – wild animals.
“All of our animals appreciate the heat wave, because they get to spend some time outside,” said Donna Fernandes, president of the Buffalo Zoo.
Not everyone appreciates the unseasonable warmth, however. Sam Cordova, owner of Service Pro Heating and Air Conditioning, said hot temperatures and sunny skies in late October send the wrong message to customers who have yet to service their furnaces.
“Our heating and air conditioning business is controlled by the weather in terms of how much business we actually get, and it starts tapering down as soon as warmer weather comes around. I want cold and nasty weather to keep us busy,” Cordova said.
He might get his wish sooner than many hope.
Though forecasting into late next week remains murky, the season’s first – gasp – snowfall may be on the horizon, forecasters said, once the calendar flips over to November.
Early forecast models show a potential for snow next weekend, but all of that depends on which direction Hurricane Sandy tracks over the next few days, according to Hibbert.
The storm, which was located over Jamaica late Wednesday, was expected to head northward, possibly affecting the East Coast early next week.

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com and msommer@buffnews.com