Tonawanda News — Western New Yorkers aren’t precisely strangers to cold weather, but this could be a record-breaker.
With a winter storm warning in effect until 6 a.m. today and a wind chill advisory in effect through noon today for Niagara and northern Erie counties and other portions of Western New York, it could be a chilly day indeed for the region.
The National Weather Service in Buffalo predicted a “bitterly cold airmass” would drop across the region Thursday night and linger throughout today, along with a “widespread and prolonged winter storm” bringing blowing snow through the morning. Wind chills could get as low as 20 degrees below zero in Western New York.
“It’s going to be a cold one,” said Dan Kelly of the National Weather Service Buffalo office.
The low temperature record for Feb. 2 in the Buffalo region was -2, set in 1970, while today’s record — unless it’s already been broken — is -1, set in 1981. Though the National Weather Service’s forecast lows for the area are still a few degrees above that (0 degrees on Thursday, 2 degrees today), Kelly said, it’s going to be close.
In addition, another 4 to 8 inches of snow could be dumped on the area by this morning by that winter storm, making for one unpleasant task for those brushing, scraping or shoveling out their vehicles this morning.
With the temperatures this low, the potential for frostbite or hypothermia is heightened, and even minutes unprotected in the chill could cause injury, said Dr. Raquel Martin, chief of emergency medicine at Kenmore Mercy Hospital. While layers help, any exposed skin runs the risk of frostbite — and as the time increases so does the risk of hypothermia, the cooling of the core body temperature.
“Your body’s natural response is to send less blood to the surface because it wants to keep the warm blood in the middle of your body and not send it out to get cold and prevent hypothermia; that decreased circulation makes that skin more vulnerable to actually freezing,” she said.