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Local TV news stations calmly cover the snowstorm

One of the best parts of my job is I don't have to leave home to watch television, especially during snowstorms.

One of the worst parts of my job is watching the local news stations hype the snowstorms, which usually translates into high ratings.

But surprise, surprise. This morning, the three local news stations on broadcast television were pretty calm about the snowstorm that was a much bigger problem downstate.

Courtesy of a DVR that can record multiple programs at once, I was able to watch the first 10 minutes of all three 6 a.m. newscasts.

Channel 2's John Beard, who actually is growing a beard, kicked off that station's report by saying things were "not as bad here" as they are downstate and across the Eastern Seaboard.

Meteorologist Patrick Hammer started his report by asking, "Can you hear the cheering?"

I thought he was referring to the small amount of snow that had arrived at that point as people awoke and sang the Peggy Lee classic: Is that all there is? But Hammer was referring to the cheers from the school kids who got the day off.

Hammer proceeded to ask and answer the key question of why they were getting the day off for what was a pretty routine snowstorm in Western New York.

"Because the whole state is affected by this," explained Hammer. "The storm looks manageable on our side of the state."

He predicted light to moderate snow over the next two days that was to total 8 to 16 inches.

"In lake effect, we'd get that in three hours," Hammer said.

Soon, reporter Stephanie Barnes was in the now obligatory role of riding around Western New York in a car to show if the snow was causing driving problems.

"No big issues to report," said Barnes, whose account was confirmed by traffic reporter Dave Cash.

"We haven't seen any whiteout conditions," said Cash.

But the station seemed to want to make a big issue of a tweet from Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz that would have made the late Buffalo mayor Jimmy Griffin proud. The station asked its viewers to react to it.

"Let's show some backbone folks," tweeted Poloncarz. "When did 6 inches of snow over 24 hours ever stop Buffalo. Never, so let's not start losing that backbone now."

I could almost hear the cheering everywhere across Western New York, especially from people who had to stay home from work to watch their children.

Over at Channel 4, meteorologist Mike Cejka calmly reported there was light snow that at times would become moderate.

Then the station premiered a new program: "The Kathy Hochul Show."

The station stayed on the lieutenant governor's news conference for several minutes as she was asked about the necessity of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo declaring a state of emergency in Western New York for what is considered a relatively routine snow event here.

"It is all about being prepared for the worst," said Hochul. "We know we would be criticized if we weren't ready."

I wish reporter Ali Ingersoll was prepared to ask Hochul if she had advised her boss that Western New York could handle a storm like this and that schools often stay open. After all, having the governor's ear could be one benefit of having a WNYer as lieutenant governor.

Over at Channel 7, meteorologist Andy Parker said it was going to be a two-day weather event and at the time all the roads were "in pretty good shape."

The station aired a smaller portion of Hochul's news conference. And then it showed how relatively easily its mobile weather lab was navigating the roads.

I haven't lost my backbone, but I find myself in the unusual position of cheering the stations' calm coverage of the storm.


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