By Michael Regan
The Tonawanda News
— Jack Kanack's backyard weather station on South Meadow Drive has been as much a fixture in North Tonawanda over the last several decades as his attention to detail.
As an observer for the National Weather Service during the last 30 years, his drive to go above and beyond what is expected of him has earned the respect of his peers.
That fact was noted Wednesday as a representative of the service recognized him for the three decades of devotion to charting local weather with a plaque and letter.
"It's quite an accomplishment when you think about it," said Dan Kelly, an observing program leader for the National Weather Service. "He's taken a reading literally everyday for the last 30 years. If something happens in North Tonawanda, we know about it and we really appreciate all that Jack does."
Kanack is credited with providing succinctly accurate measurements during the surprise October ice storm of 2006, which assisted southern Niagara County in obtaining federal relief funds, according to Kelly.
Kanack, 51, began his tenure with the service in April of 1982, tallying precipitation and temperatures with the exactness of a computer, and sometime even better than that.
"When I was first doing it there was just weather maps," he said. "There was no Internet, there weren't any computer models that would predict the weather. If it rained in Detroit you knew that 6 hours later it could rain here. That's how we used to do it. I don't always believe models."
Kanack said many of the new generation of weather forecasters don't necessarily know how to make a predication without the use of technology, which can make them less on-target in many cases.
"There's so many website and so many models they're putting out," he said. "It's too much clutter. You've got all this news and you don't know which one to believe and which one to pick. A lot of them believe whatever the weather model is telling them, while I'm blending the art of the old way with the new."
That art can entail simple observations like the contrail of a passing airplane showing the amount of humidity in the air or the possibility of precipitation.
Kanack has taken his gift of observation into his own venture as well, when he launched the website www.weathermedic.com last year.
Since then, he's been contacted by people all over the country seeking his insight — from pea harvesters in Wisconsin, to contractors working on wind farms in Iowa and even the occasional party host.
His skills can be particularly helpful in his hometown, where weather can often affect business.
"New York is the most senstive sate in the country when it comes to weather sensitivity," he said. "The difference between your profits in a good year or bad year could swing either way about 14 percent."
Kanack said he will continue with his passion into the future, with no plans to slow down. He said what started as a youthful interest watching the likes of local weather great, Tom Jolls, has only grown stronger.
"I love doing what I'm doing," he said. "I feel fortunate that a lot of people can't do what they love to do and I'm going to stick with it."