BUFFALO, N.Y. – Bernie Dolan wiped the snow off his car after Christmas Eve mass and gave a qualified endorsement.
"I'd love a white Christmas — if it'd stop right now," he said. "They're talking about a foot of snow. That's a little too white."
Too white, indeed. By midday Tuesday 25.2 inches of snow had fallen at Buffalo-Niagara International Airport, the National Weather Service said.
The airport had to shut down Monday evening because of heavy snow and poor visibility, diverting flights to Rochester. It was still closed at midday Tuesday.
Despite Buffalo's reputation for heavy snow fed by moisture from Lake Erie, it was a last-minute white Christmas for the city. Before Christmas Eve, it had collected only 1.6 inches of snow, compared with 80 inches during the same period last year.
"If there was a time for this to happen, it's now," said weather service meteorologist Steve McLaughlin. "I guess Santa will be very happy."
It was the first time on record that the city got no snow in November, and temperatures even topped 60 degrees in early December.
"We've had a nice fall, but now we're going to have to pay for it," Don McMahon said as he left Christ the King Church in suburban Amherst.
The 25.2 inches of snow was Buffalo's third heaviest 24-hour snowfall on record and a mere tenth of an inch behind the No. 2 accumulation, in 1982. The heaviest was 37.9 inches in 1998.
Snow also fell Tuesday around other parts of the Great Lakes, including Michigan, Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Parts of northwestern Michigan got 8 to 12 inches, the weather service said. In addition to deep snow covering some of the mountains of the West, a layer of flakes also coated the ground across sections of the Upper Midwest.