Remember What Don Essig Always Says. Really?

Autzen Stadium Rain Or Shine

The “Dog Days” of August are here and many of us are thinking about the upcoming college football season, especially the Ducks. Anticipation is high for the arrival of the first home game of this season. That game, incidentally, is scheduled for Saturday August 31 against Nicholls.

Don Essig Book "It Never Rains in Autzen Stadium" | Image
Don Essig Book “It Never Rains in Autzen Stadium” | Image

Don Essig has been the PA announce for the Ducks at Autzen Stadium for 46 years. His now famous saying (and the title of his book) ” It never rains in Autzen Stadium” was first said in 1990 when the UO football season started with a ban on umbrellas. I’ve had a good laugh with Don over that line since everyone knows that Autzen doesn’t have a roof to keep out the rain. It was suggested for me to look into the home opening games of the past and see what the weather actually was like. The purpose would be to see if the data gathered would aid in a prognostication for this years first game of the season at Autzen Stadium. Well here goes nothing.

The initial problem is where to find when each home opener was played. That means the date since the games are not played on the same date each year. The next step is to search the National Weather Service records and my own for each home opener for a specific number of years. As it happens the University of Oregon Ducks sports website has a search engine to look back at when each season’s games were played. The only problem I can’t solve is proving it actually did rain at Autzen Stadium. The data will show that it rained at the airport and that there was a chance of it raining at the stadium.

Let’s take a look at the data I was able to find and assemble to research this subject. We’ll start with 2012 and go back 20 years to 1993. I chose the 20 year period because that is what the National Weather Service uses to establish the average temperatures and precipitation for a given location.  Another reason for not being able to go back any farther is that the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Portland’s searchable data base only goes back 5 years. I had to rely on my records of the official highs, lows, and precipitation recorded by the Weather Service that I put in my own laptop computer that I carried back and forth to work with me for the better part of 17 years.

YEAR        MONTH/DAY          AGAINST                      HIGH/LOW        PRECIPITATION

2012             Sept.  1            Arkansas St.                     79/43                 0.00″

2011             Sept.  10          Nevada                             94/53                 0.00″

2010             Sept.  18          Portland St.                      64/54                 0.62″

2009             Sept.  12          Perdue                             90/56                 0.01″

2008             Sept.  6            Utah St.                           82/53                 0.00″

2007             Sept.  15          Fresno St.                        75/48                 trace

2006             Sept.  16          Oklahoma                        70/45                 0.00″

2005             Sept.  10          Montana                           69/52                0.24″

2004             Sept.  25          Idaho                               67/50                 0.00″

2003             Sept.  6            Nevada                            68/56                 0.00″

2002             Sept.  7            Fresno St.                        72/43                0.00″

2001             Sept.  8            Utah St.                           88/48                0.00″

2000             Sept.  2            Nevada                            79/41                 0.00″

1999             Sept.  11          Texas, El P.                      87/40                0.00″

1998             Sept.  8            Michigan St.                    75/50                 0.00″

1997             Sept.  4            Arizona                           80/54                 0.00 ”

1996             Sept.  7            Nevada                           72/50                 0.00″

1995             Sept.  9            Illinois                            86/48                 0.00″

1994             Sept.  3            Portland St.                    77/47                 0.00″

1993             Sept.  11          Montana                         72/51                 0.00″


Those are the pertinent details needed to make our historical forecast for the weather for the next Duck home-opener August 31 at 1:00 PM against Nicholls. It seems that only 20% of the games had a chance for rain to fall in Autzen Stadium. The weather on the day of the first home game of the 2010 season had the best chance for fans and players getting wet when the airport received 0.62 inches of rain that day (actually that is for the full 24 hour period). In 2005 the 0.24 inches of rain at the airport would also give the impression that the rainfall was  widespread enough to fall in the stadium. The 0.01 inches of rain for the September 12 game of 2009 more than likely didn’t get anybody wet at Autzen. You can just about forget the trace of rain on the day of the 2007 game against Fresno State. That wouldn’t be enough to fill a teaspoon.

Autzen Stadium
Autzen Stadium

To summarize our very unscientific study: historically there would be a 20% chance of having rain fall in Autzen Stadium for this years home-opening football game that’s coming up on August 31st at 1:00 PM. That also infers that the chance of having a dry day for that game would be a solid 80%. You have to understand that in weather forecasting historical data is used as a baseline for what may happen. Using current data is the only real way to make a reasonably accurate forecast. That means I’ll start giving a preliminary forecast for the weather the day of the 7 days before the game and count down day to day until we get to game day.

Umbrella |
Remember you can’t use them at Autzen…

Getting back to Don Essig and his “It never rains in Autzen Stadium” statement. Don explains that it took some 11 years of games after he first made the pronouncement on the PA system at Autzen before even a sprinkle of rain fell there during a game. With Don’s positive attitude on life, even if it were to rain on you at Autzen, his announcing work calling the game would probably make you forget you were getting wet.

I’m willing to bet that if you really are an Oregon Duck Football Fan you won’t care what the weather will be like on August 31st because you’ll be there ready to cheer them on no matter what.

Let me know what you would like me to talk about or explain. You can email me at: [email protected].

Tim Chuey is a Member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association and has been Awarded Seals of Approval for television weathercasting from both organizations.

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Another beautiful, but quite warm day today.

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