by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & Weather! & r & & r & (local coverage of this weekend's storm) & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & f Jesus comes again, it's a safe bet our local TV stations will still switch to weather inside of two minutes. Obviously some genius consultant decided that weather wins ratings, and maybe that's true in Florida (hurricanes) or California (mud slides), but here?
But by last Saturday night, you could tell something was different. The snow started around noon and only dumped more as the day wore on. Early Sunday, it still had not stopped, on its way to more than 30 straight hours of snow. This was the real deal; it wound up being our biggest 24-hour snowfall since 1950 and the nastiest event since Ice Storm in 1996.
Early on, it was the same Sunday morning crews -- the Lukens interviewed a Lilac Princess and a bunch of Little Leaguers on KXLY. But you could see something was different when Tom Sherry appeared on KREM -- in on a Sunday when he's usually out skiing. Over on KHQ, their A-Team trickled in, with Dan Kleckner and Stephanie Vigil anchoring and Brian Albrecht manning the weather map.
KHQ quickly made the right call, pulling the plug on infomercials and other programming to go for all-day coverage. (You could also watch it over on their weather channel, 115 on Comcast). Both KREM and KXLY have their own extra stations, but they mostly waited for their 5 o'clock newscasts.
Unlike Ice Storm, when I lost power and couldn't watch the coverage, I was riveted -- in between stints of shoveling my driveway and helping stuck drivers. So kudos to our local stations, especially KHQ -- that weather obsession can really pay off when the big one hits.
Still, some thoughts: The excitement is on the streets, not the weather map. The calls from inside the airplane that slid off the runway were great TV; the gray blob on the map was telling me something I already knew -- we were getting buried. So get everybody with a camera out and enlist the people to tell their stories -- whether by sending in photos (good ones only, please) or calling in their own crazy stories. Fifteen years from now, when the next big one hits, we won't remember if it was a high-pressure or low-pressure system. We'll be talking about how, back in the big dump of '08, Uncle Joe got his car so spectacularly stuck that he made it on the TV news.
Super Bowl XLII
Watch history get made if the New England Patriots win and finish the season with 19 wins and no losses. Odds are long, however, that Patriots coach Bill Belichick will crack a smile if they do manage the milestone. And if anybody even thinks about dumping Gatorade on him... well, that's how you get traded to the Falcons. The pregame hype starts at 9 am, with Tom Petty filling the halftime show headliner slot. (Sunday, 2/3, 3 pm, FOX)
Super Tuesday coverage
The miniseries we might as well call Desperate Politicians is winding its way to a conclusion, and on Super Tuesday, 22 states including California, Illinois and New York will decide who they want to vote off the island. Acknowledging that politics has become a better-than-rerun ratings getter, ABC will bump its regular lineup to cover the night for two hours starting at 8 pm; NBC and CBS will devote an hour to the results, starting at 10 pm. And if you're really hardcore, MSNBC, CNN and FOX plan all-day coverage. Sure, we all want to see who wins, but that post-election, dueling punditry can be riveting, too. (Tuesday, 2/5, various channels and times)