They'd better be right

A few decades ago, I had the enormous pleasure of working with a man named Tom Stoel on a few legal matters. Mr. Stoel was a heavy-hitting partner in the law firm I was in. His name was on the door.

In his office on one deal, I casually asked him whether he thought a certain proposition was true. I'll never forget his answer. He said with a smile, "If it isn't, we're going to have to leave town."

It seems he had already advised the client that the proposition was true. And the client had a lot riding on it. To have gotten that wrong would have have been beyond embarrassing.

Of course, what he advised the client was right.

But Mr. Stoel's answer comes to mind this morning, as we smoke-weary Portlanders check our phones for the latest on the weather. We need rain, and badly. We have the worst air of any city our size, on the whole planet. Throats are scratchy. Noses are sneezing. The toxic vapors are coming through our walls as we go batty with cabin fever. The smoke stinks. We're coughing.

And so it is with the greatest of anticipation that we read the weather language.

Occasional rain likely tonight, they say. Chance of measurable rain: 80 percent.

Eighty percent!

Tomorrow, occasional rain showers, 60 percent. Tomorrow night, occasional showers, 40 percent. Saturday, occasional showers, 40 percent.

It had better rain. Or the weather forecasters are going to have to leave town.


  1. Let's not forget how this whole thing started. Matt Zaffino was hyping the chances for a record number of 90 degree days in a row. I think the record is 8 and he was sensing we were going to break that. Of course the whole thing flopped and it got me thinking: Isn't it enough just to make a forecast without discussing possible records it'll break if it comes true? That's looking way too far ahead considering it didn't come close to happening. Besides, there's a reason records rarely happen so to toss the possibility of one out like it was nothing, starts to feel like attention-getting bullshit.
    The same sentiment applies when they started talking about rain for earlier this week. Matt went into detail as to how much it would be and what effects it would have on the fires. My feeling is that before you give the viewers a false sense of confidence with this secondary information, you might want to make sure you're right. When was the last rainfall around here? 6 weeks? I'd suggest that if something hasn't happened in that long you'd resist the temptation to give the exact amounts. Let's see if the damn thing happens first. It didn't and here we are.
    So I agree with Jack and I'll go even farther: If it doesn't rain tomorrow I say we file some charges. I'm talking about Matt Zaffino in shackles getting into an unmarked van. The DA will no doubt drop the case anyway, but the message would be clear: We are no longer in any mood to be fucked with on these weather forecasts.


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