Just in time.
If you woke up this morning to find more than an inch of snow on the ground, consider it a safe bet for a white Christmas.
But, in many areas – especially those south of Buffalo – getting around to do all that last-minute shopping and travel might not be nearly as easy for you.
A winter storm warning remained in effect until 4 p.m. today for all of the Southern Tier counties along with southern Erie and Wyoming counties, according to the National Weather Service.
Storm totals of between 8-14 inches were expected in those areas. Winds gusting up to 55 mph were expected to produce blowing and drifting snow that could imperil motorists with visibility as low as one-quarter mile at times. Wind chills were also forecast to drop into the single digits this morning.
“There are three to four things all coming into play here,” said Bob Hamilton, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Buffalo, who explained that a powerful storm to the east of the region combining with moisture from the Great Lakes will help to generate the snowfall.
A winter weather advisory was posted for the rest of Western New York not under the warning. Storm totals were expected to be from 4 to 8 inches in those areas, with the largest totals inland, away from the lakes.
“It’s not going to be a 'super storm’ like you’re hearing from some of the television [stations],” Hamilton said. “It’s really not that big a deal. It’s about time we got some snow.”
As of mid-evening Friday, no significant snowfall accumulation had been received by the weather service.
“There’s a couple of inches here and there,” said Hamilton just before 9 p.m. “It’s just getting going.”
Earlier, the weather service reported about a half inch had fallen at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, but a lot had melted before dusk.
On Friday, the solstice ushered in winter and the shortest day of the year.
As if on cue, snow started falling in some areas of Western New York at midday.
That led Hamilton to later make his fearless prediction after consulting the forecasted temperatures over the next several days.
“Anyone who gets an inch or two will be guaranteed a white Christmas,” he said.
Winds will start calming down on Sunday and snow showers may fall through Christmas Day. Monday looks like it will be a good day for snowman building for youngsters on winter vacation.
National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Kelly said to be on the lookout later next week for another round of snow, although he said it’s too early to say how much the area will see.
In the meantime, state police urged anyone on the roads over the weekend to be extra careful. They offered these tips:
• Get the latest weather forecast before leaving – go to www.weather.gov, monitor radio or TV stations or contact your nearest state police station.
• Keep your gas tank full.
• Make sure your windshield washer and antifreeze fluid levels are sufficient.
• Be sure your spare tire is inflated and you have the jack and wheel wrench.
• Use headlights at all times to increase your visibility to others. Remember, if your windshield wipers are in use, then your headlights must be on.
• Drive prudently. If the conditions are adverse, slow down.
• Brake early and correctly.
• Be advised that snow and cold temperatures can create icy conditions, especially on bridges.
• Do not use cruise control.
• Look farther down the road. Creating more time to react can make a difference.
• Give snowplows and emergency vehicles room to work.
• If you do not have to go out on the roads, don’t.