Buffalo is notorious for its winters, which are indeed long and generally overcast, with frequent snow and rain. But their severity is somewhat overplayed: The city's proximity to the Great Lakes modifies the cold, keeping average daytime temperatures in the lower 30s F/-1 to 4 C. Extremes of zero (-18 C) and below are restricted to just a handful of nights.
The Great Lakes are responsible for thick winter clouds, though, and for heavy "lake effect" snows, which tend to hit ski areas south of the city more often than elsewhere. In the city itself, large snowfalls of 6 in/15 cm or more occur only about twice a year, though lighter snows fall frequently.
Lake Erie often retains its ice cover into April, so prevailing winds off the lake keep the city much cooler than inland suburbs during early and mid-spring. May is considered the ultimate spring month, with abundant sunshine and rapidly warming temperatures. Summer is Buffalo's prime season for outdoor activities. Lake Erie's cooling breezes offset seasonal heat and humidity and stabilize the atmosphere, keeping most clouds and thunderstorms south and east of the city. Average afternoon temperatures are near 80 F/27 C, and overnight readings drop into the 60s F/16-21 C. The crisp breezes of autumn become increasingly frequent in late September and October. It remains fairly dry and sunny through October, and then the "cloudy" season takes hold in November.