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Not a snowball's chance... Buffalo likely to get buried by Syracuse in wintry weather derby

In the battle to see who has the biggest snowball, it looks like Buffalo will once again be rolled over by Syracuse.

Our neighbors to the east entered the first day of spring Monday with a whopping 4-foot advantage in the annual competition among upstate's large cities for who gets the most snowfall.

Syracuse had received 123.1 inches of snow as of Sunday night, to take an all-but-insurmountable lead in the annual New York State Golden Snowball Contest. By contrast, the total at Buffalo Niagara International Airport was 77.4 inches.

"Overall, I think everybody would agree this was a relative mild winter," said Tom Niziol, the meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service's Buffalo office.

Buffalo's annual average snowfall total, newly recalibrated by the Weather Service, is 93.6 inches. Normally by this time of the year, we would have 89.3 inches of snow, meaning that, in an average year, we could expect another four inches or so between now and the last snowfall.

Buffalo has the reputation, but historically, and for the past three winters, Syracuse has been the snowiest upstate city.

"Syracuse gets a double whammy," Niziol said. "They not only get lake-effect snow, but they are close enough to the East Coast to be affected by some of the major nor'easters that move up the coast. It was a relatively active year for East Coast storms."

Syracuse already has eclipsed its season average of 116.9 inches, but it will take a late push for the city to eclipse last year's total of 134.1 inches.

Rochester is third in the snowfall derby with 72.9 inches this season, and it is likely to end up below its seasonal average of 92.8 inches. Binghamton had 72 inches, slightly more than it usually would have by this time.

Monday, officially the first day of spring, crews began removing the 8,800-foot Lake Erie ice boom, which broke in two last week because of rough weather.

The middle of the week remains on the chilly side, with a chance of snow showers Wednesday and Thursday. There will be a gradual warm-up, into the 40s, toward week's end.

email: jbonfatti@buffnews.com

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