Hurricane Irene Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene starred as the biggest thing on television over the weekend, as the broadcast networks, cable news channels, local stations along the Eastern Seaboard and, of course, The Weather Channel devoted hours upon hours to covering the storm.

TV outlets also used various platforms to help people track Irene and prepare for any emergency. Poynter's Romanesko site surveyed what it deemed the best, singling out The Weather Channel, MSNBC and the North Carolina coast's ABC affiliate, WCTI-TV, as among the best.

Jersey Shore flees Hurricane Irene via private jet

The Weather Channel looked forward to a big spike in ratings. Nielsen figures showed that the basic-cable network saw a 29 percent increase in average viewers per day during the big blizzard that walloped the East Coast last winter.

Adweek quoted Weather Channel President Michael J. Kelly as saying:  "The intensity of viewership during times like this ... people tune in and log on to our properties in numbers that eclipse everybody else in the industry."

Last week (through Friday) Kelly's network managed to average 665,000 viewers, vs. 218,000 for the same year-earlier period, according to Nielsen.

Meanwhile, sandbags were placed around the CBS Broadcast Center in New York, which sits one block from the Hudson River, Charlie Kaye, executive producer of CBS Radio News tweeted with a photo.

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Local channels pre-empted regular programming throughout Saturday and into Sunday with updates on evacuations, flooding and the storm's other effects — including how people were emptying grocery shelves and duct-taping windows.

While much of the coverage could feel overblown, the storm caused 21 deaths and 4 million homes and businesses were without electricity. Some 2.3 million people also were ordered to evacuate, and airports and mass transit were shut down. Those evacuations orders were rescinded by Sunday aftrnoon.