Though the region has stockpiled plenty of the makings for a White Christmas, Mother Nature always has the last word.
Rain – and lots of it – will accompany a thaw topping out at 50-plus degrees by Sunday.
Goodbye snow? Maybe.
“Way too much rain,” said Jon Hitchcock, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Buffalo, which Thursday issued a flood watch for all of Western New York, from 4 p.m. Saturday to 10 p.m. Sunday.
A “dramatic warm-up” with heavy rain is forecast.
So, if you’re stashing Christmas surprises or any other valuables in your basement, now is the time to get them to higher ground. And, cross fingers for the sump pump.
The meltdown began Thursday, when the mercury hit 40 degrees at Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
It was the first time since Dec. 9 that the temperature broke above the freezing mark, Hitchcock said.
The Weather Service reported that a warm “frontal boundary” will move into the lower Great Lakes today and stall out over the weekend.
At the same time, a series of low-pressure systems will move along the stalled front, triggering heavy rain.
The combination of heavy rain and warm temperatures are the ingredients for ice jam flooding and drainage issues that could lead to flooding along area streams and in low-lying areas.
Temperatures, which have been running far below normal for the first half of the month, are expected to remain above freezing through Sunday night. Rain is expected today, tonight and Saturday, with high temperatures of about 40 degrees.
Rain in tandem with Sunday’s expected high of 52 degrees will put a dent in the snow cover before a sharp drop in temperatures occurs Sunday night into Monday.
Early forecasts show a 30 percent chance of snow showers Monday and Monday night – probably “brief, passing snow showers” – in the Buffalo metro area, according to Aaron Reynolds, Weather Service meteorologist.
Temperatures will be back in the teens Monday night, 20s Tuesday and back to the teens Tuesday night.
Areas south of Buffalo will get another chance to revisit lake-effect snow after the weekend warm-up and rain, said Reynolds. Whether there will be snow cover in the metro area come Christmas remains a mystery.
“We’ll have to see how much snow is left on the ground after (the weekend),” he said. “If you’re looking for another major storm system to bring snow, that’s not likely.”