COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — A climatologist in Coeur d'Alene says he plans to go to bat against an Illinois-based weather company to defend his reputation and a promotion ran by a local jewelry store.
Since mid-January, Clark's Diamond Jewelers has been contesting the findings from an insurance company it worked with regarding a weather-based sales promotion that ran during the holiday season.
Under the promotion, Clark's said that it would offer a 100% refund for all purchases made between Nov. 22 and Dec. 31, 2019 if it snowed more than three inches on Jan. 11, 2020.
Cliff Harris, who has been forecasting weather in Coeur d'Alene for three decades, documented over three inches of snow in several areas around his home on the Jan. 11.
“We didn’t even get our newspaper until Monday, we had so much snow," said the climatologist of the snowy weekend.
Clark's had enlisted Harris' help in determining what day Coeur d'Alene would likely see more than a couple of inches of snow.
But despite Harris saying his forecast came true, the insurance company that backed Clark's promotion balked at his findings.
According to the jewelry store, the insurance company denied the claim, saying their third party weather verification firm only measured 1.8 inches of snow on Jan. 11.
“We immediately disagreed, requested a review and have even submitted evidence to the insurance company from a well-known local climatologist to show that the snowfall on January 11 was more than three inches,” the business wrote.
Clark’s said the firm then revised its conclusion, saying there was 2.3 inches of snow on Jan. 11.
According to Clark's, the insurance company based their findings in part on reports from Weather Command, an Illinois-based forecasting company.
Harris took issue with the decision, to say the least.
“We were easily above the three inches," said Harris on Monday.
“They weren’t here. I was here," he added, referencing Weather Command's reports. "That’s why I’m frustrated. I’ve been measuring snow for 30 years in Coeur d’Alene.”
Harris noted that he took three different snow measurements around his Coeur d'Alene home, all of which showed over three inches of snow. Not far away, at the city's municipal golf course, five inches were measured, according to Harris.
Harris, who has produced forecasts for decades, operates his own climatology business and has long produced weather reports for the local newspaper. His reports have also been featured in national publications, according to an online biography.
"I’ve never fudged," said Harris of his work.
Harris argued that, following the denial of Clark's claim, the insurance company and Weather Command are calling his reputation into question.
“They’re accusing me of fudging the figures. And I would never do that," he said. “I just feel that it’s a very frustrating thing when I’ve been doing something for 68 years and some people in Illinois can tell us what we had here.”
Weather Command did not return a phone call seeking comment on Monday.
Harris says unless the insurance company pays up, he plans to file a $1.5 million defamation lawsuit against Weather Command.
“Triple damages, because they put me in a bad light,” he said, noting that the $1.5 million represents three times what he feels should be paid to Clark's customers in the promotion.
Harris plans to give the company until Valentine's Day before filing the suit.
Clark's Diamond Jewelers had said it was working with a legal expert to contest the findings. Harris said that even if Clark's were to drop their claim, he'd continue on with his suit.
“They’re going to pay. And I’m not dropping this ball," Harris said sternly, noting that he'd rather have the issue solved than win money in court.
“I’m protecting my legacy. And that’s worth a lot to me," he explained. "Is that worth a million and a half? You better believe it.”