Tonawanda News

The City

January 9, 2014

In eye of the storm, a meteorologist

Tonawanda News — Less than one week after taken office as the mayor of the City of Tonawanda, Rick Davis faced his first major test: a days-long storm that reached full-on blizzard conditions.

But he can’t say he didn’t see it coming; the fledgling mayor has 21 years of experience as a meteorologist with the Federal Aviation Administration. 

As local, county and state municipalities scrambled to react to the powerful winds and snow that encroached on the region Monday night, officials spent much of the ensuing days consulting weather professionals for the latest updates. 

But Davis, perched behind his computer in City Hall scanning the latest reports and satellite imagery, said he was able to make his decisions instantaneously. 

On Tuesday, that inside knowledge caused him to change a travel advisory he issued at 2:45 p.m. to a full-on driving ban 30 minutes later, when Davis said he observed a shift in a weather pattern.

“It decided to stick around a little longer,” he said. “Travel became pretty treacherous. I had a radar loop running in [my] office to figure out what was the best thing to do. The county executive had a conference call with the National Weather Service. I don’t need to do that. My knowledge in my other job came in handy with my job as mayor.” 

Davis said the advent of a blizzard in his first week leading the city was more than a little bit serendipitous, but noted that it was at least in part his professional experience that convinced residents to vote for him. 

“I do find it ironic,” he said. “To tell you the truth I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s what the residents elected me to do — to represent them.” 

Davis said since taking office he has whittled his hours down as a meteorologist to part time on a “semi-permanent basis.” 

“During these times I function on more or less a lack of sleep,” he said. “I cut back my hours at the airport. I think it was important for me to get a solid understanding of what’s going on in the city to start off and to hit the ground running.” 

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