Temperatures retreated back into the single digits and gusty breezes dropped the wind chills well below zero as the sun set over Buffalo Niagara today – a day when the seasonal snowfall total eclipsed the 100-inch mark for the first time in three years.
It was just the start, however, of a really cold night to come.
Wind chill warnings were issued by the National Weather Service for southern Erie, Wyoming, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties as some of the most frigid wind chills of the season – as low as 30 below – were forecast through 10 a.m. Friday.
Temperatures are expected to drop to a record low of minus-6 overnight. With west winds of 15 to 20 miles per hour, wind chills are expected to drop dangerously low.
“If you dress properly, it really isn’t that big of an issue,” said Jon Hitchcock, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “You need to cover all exposed skin and dress in layers.”
“If you have exposed skin, you can get frostbite in as low as 10 to 15 minutes.”
The bone-chilling cold will further drop the monthly average temperature – that headed into today was already 5.3 degrees below normal at 20.8 degrees – even lower by the time February wraps up at midnight Friday into Saturday.
As of 6 p.m., 4.3 inches of snow was reported at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, bringing the seasonal snowfall total to 104.1 inches. The snow totals are already the second-most in nine years – there was 111.8 inches in 2010-11 – and February is not even over yet. The last time the region struck the 100-inch mark was in February 2003.
The normal snowfall as of this date in the season is 78.2 inches.
Blowing snow was expected to continue through the evening with a few light flurries.
The overnight temperatures could perhaps break the record for the date of minus-4 degrees set in 1884.
Friday’s forecast is for a sunny but chilly day with highs in the mid-teens. Some snow showers are expected Saturday during the day, with a blast of snow, about 3-5 more inches, coming Saturday night.
“It’s to the point that it’s expected. You just have to grin and bear it," said Lisa Watson, waiting for an NFTA bus on Niagara Street at Rhode Island.
Paul Frey on Niagara Street just laughed when asked what he thought of this morning’s snow and cold.
“It’s crazy. It’s wicked, and it’s very, very cold," he said.
The afternoon commute was slow as winds whipped across the region, severely reducing visibility in open areas, especially along Lake Erie where blowing snow creating blinding conditions, forcing Buffalo Police to again close Fuhrmann Boulevard to traffic in both directions.
This morning, as steady snowfall blown around by blustery winds led to a barrage of accidents on area roads, making for long, miserable commutes. One driver said it took her an hour to drive from North Buffalo to downtown.
A series of accidents occurred on the inbound Kensington during the morning commute.
No serious injuries were reported in a five-vehicle crash near the Best Street, although an ambulance was called and the westbound side of Route 33 was shut down for about a half hour. It was back open by 10:10 a.m.
That was just one of several accidents reported this morning on Routes 219 and 5, the Thruway, and Kensington, according to local authorities. Traffic was crawling on the Youngmann, Niagara Thruway, Kensington and the snow-covered I-90 where an accident was reported at a little after 10 a.m. involving a semi trailer between Exit 58 (Silver Creek ) and 57A (Eden-Angola).
News Staff Reporters Maki Becker and Lou Michel contributed to this report.