The Golden Snowball Award is an annual award presented to the Upstate New York city that receives the most snowfall in a season. The original award was the result of a friendly competition of National Weather Service offices in Upstate. It was originally conceived after the Great Lakes Blizzard of 1977. After the Rochester and Syracuse offices closed in the mid-1990s, the competition died out.
The award was revived during the 2002–2003 snowfall season, in which Syracuse won. It had won every year from then through the 2010–2011 season as well. In the 2011–2012 season, Rochester was the first city other than Syracuse to win since the award's revival. The prize is accompanied by a ceremonial $100 check to one of that city's school's hat and mitten drive. They also receive temporary possession of a trophy for the year; the original competition's trophy went missing, prompting its replacement with a new one donated by a trophy shop in Syracuse. The current Golden Snowball trophy resides in Syracuse City Hall.
Compared to Syracuse's average snowfall of 116.9 inches, or nearly 10 feet per year, New York City's annual snow average is a relatively small 2–3 feet per year in the city and about 3–4 feet per year in nearby suburbs. This is due to a number of factors, including lower latitude and oceanic influence keeping much of the precipitation as rain in the winter, combined with distance from the Great Lakes keeping the city well away from the influence of lake-effect snow. For the first time ever, during the 2005–2006 winter season New York City did have more snowfall than Albany, mainly due to the Blizzard of 2006, which was the city's biggest snowfall to date, while Albany was on the extreme northern fringe.
The cities that compete for the award areAlbany
Until the 2006–2007 season, several smaller cities also competed for a smaller award, that includes a $50 check. These are:Fulton
Note: Official National Weather Service snowfall statistics were not kept at the current locations for Binghamton and Syracuse until the 1951–52 season.
All measurements are in inches.
Snowiest Season for all Golden Snowball Cities: Buffalo 199.4 inches (1976-77)
Least Snowy Season for all Golden Snowball Cities: Albany 13.8 inches (1912-13)
Max: 112.5 inches (1970-71)
Min: 13.8 inches (1912-13)
Average: 64.1 inches
Max: 134.0 inches (1995-96)
Min: 43.5 inches (2011-12)
Average: 84.7 inches
Max: 199.4 inches (1976-77)
Min: 36.7 inches (2011-12)
Average: 93.6 inches
Max: 161.7 inches (1959-60)
Min: 41.7 inches (1952-53)
Average: 92.8 inches
Max: 192.1 inches (1992-93)
Min: 50.6 inches (2011-12)
Average: 116.9 inches