After a Record 1014 posts in 2 days, Time for a New Thread

February 2nd, 2011 at 10:51 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

Now that we’re nearly entirely done with our semi-storm (just under 7″ officially at the NWS; biggest single snowfall of the season there, so far), we will catch a dry break for 2 days. By Saturday, a threat of snow reappears, but it appears to be a minor one. Temperatures will moderate a little over the weekend, but another sharply colder surge of arctic air looks slated to arrive during Tuesday, probably preceded by some modest snow on Monday. This surge will be a Deep Freeze surge. While the pattern may relax a little the following week, there are still no signs of a fundamental pattern change which would boost our temperatures to above normal for any extended period–if at all–during the next 16 days.


Make room for Pegula’s White Horse

February 1st, 2011 at 11:04 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

So Terry Pegula’s white horse is saddled up, ready to ride into Buffalo in the next few weeks.  The Sabres Savior has yet to utter a public peep about his plans for the hockey team, but Buffalo’s championship-starved fans have already embraced the Pennsylvania billionaire.

And who can blame them.  The Sabres franchise is in desperate need of fresh air, and a fresh infusion of cash.  Moreover, the hockey club needs a commitment to championship play right from the top of the organization.

Tom Golisano deserves our thanks and our appreciation for saving the Sabres from bankruptcy, and putting an iron-clad commitment to Buffalo in place.  He and his management team have made the Sabres a model NHL franchise off the ice; with some of the highest TV ratings in the league.  The Sabres play to about 98-percent capacity at HSBC Arena.  Events like the original Winter Classic, and the World Juniors Tournament last month have solidified Buffalo’s place as one of North America’s capitals of hockey.

But the Sabres will certainly  benefit from Pegula’s reported passion for the game and his determination to win.

As successful as he’s been in the business world, it will be interesting to see how this newly minted billionaire handles the business of professional sports.    With all the excitement and exuberance surrounding his takeover of the team, it’s still hard to imagine that he will throw open his checkbook and start spending wildly.  What’s more likely, is that he’ll take some time to examine how the Sabres hockey department works and how much bang they’ve been getting for their buck.

Which brings us to Darcy Regier.  He may be the whipping boy for frustrated Sabres fans, but make no mistake about it–for the last 14-years, Regier has been simply carrying out the orders of team owners–whether it’s the Rigases, or Golisano.  

Regier has been overly patient, extremely cautious, and not very active in trades or free agency.   But he hasn’t been bad.

He’s operated with a skeleton scouting staff, supplemented by inexpensive video scouting.  He’s been undermined by bad decisions on key players like Danny Briere and Chris Drury, and painted into a corner by the Thomas Vanek contract.  But he’s made the best of a sometimes bad situation.  And he’s kept the Sabres competitive for the most part, even excellent from time to time.

So when Pegula’s white horse rides into town in a couple of weeks, here’s hoping he spends some time truly evaluating the Sabres on-ice product–where they’ve been, and where they might be headed. 

They’re certainly not championship caliber–not even close.  But with Regier’s reasoned judgement, with a commitment to smart spending at the trade deadline and in free agency, and with a beefed-up scouting staff, Pegula just might have the makings of a pretty good hockey club already.


First Widespread Winter Storm of the Season is On Its Way

January 31st, 2011 at 3:01 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

The storm we began advertising as “one to watch” back on Thursday and Friday is still on track to deliver a heavy snowfall and gusty winds to our region. A preliminary light snow will develop toward Tuesday AM, with 2-3″ more snow on Tuesday, keeping roads slippery. But the Main Event will come much later Tuesday night into Wednesday AM. After midnight Tuesday night, widespread snow will overspread our region and become heavy at times long before dawn. This storm will be complicated by a strengthening NE wind producing considerable blowing and drifting snow by and during Wednesday, making for very hazardous travel. Most areas will receive at least 8″ of snow by mid morning Wednesday, and possibly a good deal more than that–depending on the exact track of the storm. If the track gets nudged a little further north, there could be a period of sleet or freezing rain in northern PA and possibly into parts of the s tier, and even a drying period for a few hours (with a “dry slot” of air coming around the bottom of the storm), and if gets nudged a little further south, it would be all snow for all locations. Amounts can NOT be written in stone at this point. But with probable NE winds of 15-30 (gustiest north of Buffalo), the Wed AM commute looks especially challenging, with snowfall rates decreasing to moderate by midday and for the afternoon.  Of course, the meteorologists of WeatherWatch 4 will keep you updated before and during the storm’s passage.


CASH Buffalo

January 29th, 2011 at 5:05 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

Low-income families are getting a hand preparing their annual tax forms.

A United Way program called “CASH” offers free tax form preparation to individuals and families earning less than 50-thousand dollars a year.


A Personal Observation on this 25th Anniversary of the Challenger Disaster

January 28th, 2011 at 9:21 pm by under Jacquie Walker's Newsroom Notebook

The ‘teacher in space’ and ‘journalist in space’ programs were cancelled by NASA after the Challenger explosion.

I’m always especially sad to note the anniversary of the Challenger explosion. At the same time NASA was preparing to send America’s first teacher into space, I was working as a news anchor and reporter here at WIVB-TV and navigating the rigorous application process to become the first journalist in space. There were long forms, essays, and letters of recommendation required – prompting a real process of self-examination. Why did I want to become the first journalist in space?

As it turns out, the applications were divided into geographic regions of the country and my application wound up in competition with all the network news reporters and anchors based in New York City. I never would have been picked. But I had the very real desire to learn, train, launch, explore, and share my discoveries with planet Earth. Christa McAuliffe surely felt the same way. God bless her and those who died with her twenty-five years ago today. They leave us richer for their willingness to reach higher, look outward, and, ultimately, sacrifice all for the good of humankind around the globe.


Extraordinary Measures to Cover the Muzzammil Hassan Trial

January 27th, 2011 at 8:43 pm by under Jacquie Walker's Newsroom Notebook

I hope you are following Lorey Schultz’s blog posts sent from the courtroom during the Muzzammil Hassan murder trial. Because cameras have been barred from the courtroom for most of the trial, but laptops and cellphones are permitted, News 4 has been able to provide detailed coverage of what’s being said and done during this unprecedented case. Technology has changed everything for this type of trial coverage – there has never been a trial before in Western New York presented by so many news organizations in this way.

News Four’s Lorey Schultz uses props to show how she is blogging from her chair in the courtroom each day.

I can’t give you all the technical details of how this information is conveyed from Lorey’s vantage point in the courtroom to your home TV and computer screen, but I did ask Lorey to show me how it works for her. She says she has to balance her computer laptop on her lap, her cell phone and wireless card on one arm of her chair, and her notebook and pen on the other arm. She also has to wear her reading glasses on her nose so she can look up and down over them from her laptop to the action in front of the room. She remains in this cramped position for most of the day and she is surrounded by reporters who are delicately balancing their technical gear in the same manner. Lorey says if anybody happens to accidentally knock something off an armrest – the mishap cascades down the row of reporters like falling dominoes!

Lorey is sending out dozens of blog posts from the courtroom each day. Follow the coverage from this hard-working reporter on WIVB.com.


Super Bowl 25 reflections

January 27th, 2011 at 4:39 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

It was twenty years ago today–and Buffalo sports fans are reminiscing  about where they were for Super Bowl XXV–the Bills first appearance in the big game.  I had the privilege of covering the game, sitting in the auxiliary press area at Tampa Stadium.  And I have vivid memories of that day and that game.

 I remember Whitney Houston’s version of the national anthem with its unusual time signature and the military fly over right before kickoff. 

I’m haunted by Bruce Smith’s safety in the second quarter–how close he came to stripping the ball from Jeff Hostetler and maybe scoring a Buffalo touchdown.  The game, and maybe the history of the Bills, might have been changed forever.

I remember the Giants inexorable nine minute drive in the third quarter when they took the lead.  Fourteen plays, including Mark Ingram’s tackle breaking first down catch on third and 13. 

And of course, I remember watching from the media staging area outside the Buffalo locker room as Scott Norwood’s kick sailed wide right.  We watched him miss on TV monitors and we immediately started getting ready to go to work getting postgame reaction in the locker room. 

I’ll always remember talking to Norwood on live TV, with tears in his eyes, as he quietly, calmly, mechanically explained what went wrong on the kick.  “I just pushed it right” he said, over and over.  And during the live interview we were interrupted by Ralph Wilson who told him it wasn’t his fault.

Today is the anniversary but it was the next day, the day after Super Bowl XXV, that I still consider the greatest day in Buffalo Sports history.   That was the day thousands gathered to salute the Super Bowl losers in Niagara Square and absolve Scott Norwood.  An amazing act of civic forgiveness revealing the true heart and soul of Buffalo sports fans.  And I still believe, twenty years later, that heart, that soul, that passion will someday  be rewarded with a championship.


Super Bowl MAC Attack

January 25th, 2011 at 7:07 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

James Starks-UB (AP Photo)

While WNY football fans are caught up in rooting for hometown hero James Starks, there’s another interesting Super Bowl angle that has a Buffalo connection.

Starks is one of 15 Mid American Conference players on the Steelers and Packers.  Of course, UB is in the conference and has played against many of the 15 players.  Along with Starks, prominent Green Bay & Pittsburgh players such as Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison, Antonio Brown, Greg Jennings and Cullen Jenkins.  The 15 MACers are tied for second on the rosters with the Big Ten, trailing just the powerful SEC.

Its a good message to WNY football fans that the teams UB plays against are loaded with quality players, even if they aren’t the usual big names or top 25 powerhouses.  NFL teams know where to find good players, and its clear that the two best teams know the MAC can deliver.

So when you’re watching the 15 MAC alums play in Dallas, remember that most of them played right at UB Stadium or against the Bulls.  That should impress any football fan.


RELENTLESS, or Close to It

January 24th, 2011 at 10:35 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

After the coldest morning in 15 years Monday,  the thermometer cuts us a break for Tuesday and Wednesday in WNY, ahead of somewhat colder weather returning for Thursday, a “clipper” storm system approaching us by later Friday into Saturday and then a return to the “Deep Freeze.” Even though we are seeing some changes in the northern hemispheric circulation features which “oscillate” (such as the North Atlantic Oscillation and the Arctic Oscillation) in which some moderation would be expected, another changing feature over western North America is going into something of a cold phrase, which will continue to send the Polar Jetstream across the northern Plains to below the Ohio Valley and off the middle Atlantic coast, allowing arctic airmasses to continue to dominate from the Dakotas to the east coast. As of this posting (Monday evening) there are no signs of a fundamental pattern change in the next 16 days. We can expect below to much below average temperatures most of those days–but not all of them.


Mayor’s Summer Youth Program

January 24th, 2011 at 4:43 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

The city of Buffalo is opening the window for young people to apply for summer jobs.

Mayor Byron Brown says his Summer Youth Employment Program has connected over 13,000 young people with meaningful jobs over the past five years. He says despite federal and state budget issues, his program can give participants important tools for their futures.

“We will provide the young people with training in job readiness, in life skills, in financial literacy, and this year, we’re adding another component, and that is a college prep program,” said Mayor Brown.

Applications are available at City Hall or online.