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The cold is coming. Quickly.

The weather will see a dramatic temperature shift this weekend, with a winterlike blast due to hit this afternoon.

“It’s true Arctic air,” said meteorologist Jim Mitchell of the National Weather Service.

The City of Buffalo could see one to two inches of snow this afternoon, as temperatures start the day in the 30s before dropping.

Most of the weekend snow is expected to fall from Chautauqua County to southern Erie County starting at midday today and continuing all day Sunday, which could make travel on the Thruway difficult between Buffalo and Cleveland.

Chautauqua County could get 7 to 13 inches this weekend, while Cattaraugus and Allegany counties could see a total of 2 to 4 inches, Mitchell said.

“When it snows that hard that fast, it can accumulate pretty much anywhere,” he said.

Also expect some powerful wind gusts and difficult driving conditions starting this afternoon, due to reduced visibility. And temperatures may not rise above the 20s Sunday.

Western New York is hardly alone this weekend – wintry conditions are expected across much of the nation. A winter storm in the Plains states is also heading eastward, which could be a prelude of things to come.

In the short term, temperatures are expected to climb to the mid-30s Tuesday but sink again for Thanksgiving.

“We’re looking at cold temperatures for Thanksgiving, with a high of only in the mid- to upper-20s, with a fairly good chance of widespread snow and even possibly lake-effect snow for metro Buffalo,” said meteorologist Bill Hibbert of the National Weather Service.

The conditions, though, are not enough for skiers to start readying their equipment, because there hasn’t been enough prolonged cold.

“The only advantage would be cold nights for snow-making for the local ski areas,” Hibbert said.

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