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More snowfall stuff

The snow is melting but the Golden Snowball competition goes on.

The contest to be crowned Snow King of upstate New York is very tight, with Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse all in the running.

Both Buffalo (21.6 inches) and Rochester (15.7) benefited from the March 7-9 storms that mostly bypassed Syracuse (5.8).

But the Salt City remains in the lead with 108.3 inches. Rochester (101.9) and Buffalo (101.1) are neck-and-neck for No. 2. As for Binghamton and Albany ... well maybe next year.

The contest runs through the end of April and you can follow it at this Web site.

--- John F. Bonfatti

Seasonal snowfall totals

The National Weather Service has updated its snowfall totals with February's stats.

In Erie County, February's winners were North Boston (38 inches) and Eden (35 inches). That brought the seasonal total at both locations to 121 inches, the highest total in the county.

Some other high totals for the month were South Dayton (44 inches), Forestville (43 inches) and Darien Center (41 inches).

But the big winner, both for the month and the season, is the Cattaraugus County community of Perrysburg, where February brought a whopping 56 inches. The seasonal total there now stands at 170 inches.

Airman Excellence

Healy Congratulations are in order to Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Healy of West Seneca, currently serving in Iraq but based at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey.

Healy was recently name the Air Mobility Command Outstanding Weather Airman of the Year.

A weather buff since he was a kid, Healy won the award for four distinct achievements:

He was recognized "Exceptional Performer" during Air Mobility Command's Weather Standards Evaluation Program inspection. He was lauded by the evaluators, and his flight scored best in the command with a 98.1 percent.

He compiled more than 1,600 weather observations at a 99-percent error-free rate, despite complicated code. He ensured information was always available.

He rewrote the flight's radar training program, incorporating local area effects and unique imagery file, and was ready for the Weather Standards Evaluation Program inspection.

He scored a 94 percent on his end-of-course career development course exam, which is the highest test score to date in his flight.

How good is Staff Sgt. Healy? Here's a quote from his flight chief, Master Sgt. Marc Allen: β€œIn my 19 years of experience, he's certainly the most knowledgeable weather forecaster I've worked with.”

--- John F. Bonfatti

Soak it up

Glorious sunshine is on tap today, with minimal winds and a high temperature that should flirt with 40 degrees.

Enjoy it. It's likely to be the best weather of the week, by far. There's a lot of precipitation in the forecast for the week ahead, and temperatures will decline as the weekend approaches.

Still, here's another sign spring and summer aren't far away: Sunday was the last day of operation for Buffalo Place's Rotary Rink downtown.

---John F. Bonfatti

Gradual warm-up portends end to ski season

I spent Saturday morning skiing at Kissing Bridge and was pleasantly surprised, amid fog, near 40-degree temperatures and mist, to find the snow abundant and eminently schuss-able.

But the ski season is definitely winding down. My companion for the day, who skis there every Saturday as part of a ski club, said it seemed like there was about half as many people there as he would normally see.

Today's  overnight lows for most of the area are forecast to be in the low 20s, but the next two nights, overnight lows are expected to climb nearly 10 degrees a night before temperatures dip Wednesday night to near freezing.

I give the forecast recap just to remind you folks who put off a trip downhill this year that the window of opportunity for an enjoyable day (or night) on the slopes is closing.

-- John F. Bonfatti

The Big Meltdown

Not exactly sure what you get if you win β€” a "bundle" of Old Farmer's Almanac products, it says β€” but the folks who publish the Old Farmer's Almanac are running a "guess how long before the snowbank in our parking lot melts" contest.

Here's a link to the webcam in their parking lot in Dublin, N.H. The last date for entries is March 18. Good luck.

--- John F. Bonfatti

Here and Gone

Hope you enjoyed the bright sunshine that graced most of Western New York for a good part of Wednesday.

The next mention of sun in the National Weather Service forecast isn't until Monday, when the forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and a high around 40 degrees.

Until then ... yuck. Words like "rain," "freezing rain," "flurries" and "snow showers" dominate the forecasts for the next several days.

--- John F. Bonfatti

What's on TV?

Looking at the large swirling mass  still approaching on the National Weather Service radar, and noting Mayor Byron Brown's advice to avoid unnecessary travel, it can be a little tricky to find the silver lining in the snow-swollen clouds hanging over us.

BUT, we'll try.

For one thing, the Sabres are out of town tonight, so no one has fewer people have to brave the slippery streets to get to the arena. (Sorry, Springsteen Bandits fans.)

2. There was that pause in the snow that allowed plow jockeys to clear local parking lots largely empty since it's not a workday and there's no holiday sales.

3. Most kids were already off school, and many workers were home, too, to get out and clear sidewalks and driveways, and dig out their less-able neighbors.

4. After the storm warning is lifted tomorrow morning, there's an entire week for it all to melt or get pushed aside before the St. Patrick's Day Parade!

5. And if the biggest storm of the season doesn't arrive until March, how bad a winter could it have been, anyway?

Countdown to Spring: 12 days.

(Oh, and the answer to our headline question: Lots of "Law & Order," "CSI," "Pride and Prejudice" on Oxygen, and "Lost in Translation" on E!, plus an edited for TV "Road to Perdition" on ABC ... tape it for after the hockey game.)

NWS Customer Advisory Board

The Buffalo office of the National Weather Service has asked me to serve on a Customer Advisory Board that all of the NWS offices are forming.

As explained by the office's chief meteorologist, Tom Niziol, and warning coordinator, Judy Levan, the board, made up of nine individuals from various organizations with a special interest in the weather, will help guide how the weather service operates.

The first thing they've asked us to do is give feedback on a proposal to drop many of the winter weather warning and advisory subcategories that have sprung over the years.

For instance, depending on conditions, forecasters now can issue a winter weather advisory, a snow advisory, a snow anbd blowing snow advisory, a sleet advisory or a blowing snow advisory. Under the proposed change, they would just issue a winter weather advisory, then specify the details of what kind of weather is expected in the advisory.

Similarly, winter warnings for a winter storm, heavy snow or sleet would just be changed to a winter storm warning.

The idea is to simplify the products the office issues and reduce confusion.

Simple is better, I say. Anybody have any thoughts on this?

---John F. Bonfatti

Buffalo Weather Center meet and greet

Just a quick reminder: at noon today, at the Market Arcade, 617 Main Street, the folks trying to put together a weather science center on the downtown waterfront are having a "meet-and-greet" for those interested in participating in the effort or just finding out more about it.

It will be a working lunch; bring a brown bag. There will be beverages provided, though.

--- John F. Bonfatti

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