The overnight chill felt like a march back to late winter – as the balmy summerlike air that enveloped the region earlier this month gave way to freeze warnings Monday night.
But there was good news, to go along with the bad: The region has had such nice temperatures lately that it should have helped plants cope with the cold snap.
“We’ve got a lot of warmth stored in the soil,” said Bill Hibbert, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, late Monday. “Think of it as blocking the heat loss.”
And the bone-chilling temperatures aren’t expected to last.
Temperatures are expected to moderate today as partly sunny conditions with highs in the upper 50s are expected. Overnight lows today will be in the mid-40s, with the mercury expected to climb back into the 70s during the days from Wednesday through Sunday with overnight lows in the 50s.
But Monday, residents around the area were advised to protect tender vegetation, which could be susceptible to the chilly temperatures.
Hibbert said the freeze was expected to set in from midnight to 3 a.m. in suburban areas and more in the range of midnight in rural areas.
“The worst of it will be away from the lakes, in wide-open, low-lying areas,” Hibbert said.
Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua, Orleans and Genesee counties were put under a freeze warning from the National Weather Service through 8 a.m. today thanks to cold air that arrived over the weekend.
Just days removed from a week-plus streak of sunny days in the upper 70s, a trace of snowfall was reported Sunday at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, marking only the second time on the date that snow has been measured, the Weather Service reported. The other time was 1938.
“We just have kind of a cold air mass above us now,” said Dan Kelly, Weather Service meteorologist. Speaking of the chilly Mother’s Day, he said, “We had a mix of ice pellets and very small hail.”
Kelly said the first 10 days of May were “above normal” for temperature, but Saturday, Sunday and Monday fell far below the normal high of 66 degrees and low of 46 degrees.
Last year, Buffalo Niagara’s apple crop experienced widespread destruction after an early-spring warm stretch crashed under subfreezing temperatures during the last week of April.
This week, said Hibbert, the decrease “is not going to be to that degree or that extent. This is treatable,” he said.