Where we live: Don’t let anyone rain on your parade
By Chris Reber
News outlets have found a pretty solid way for getting clicks from Facebook users, and it involves the day’s weather forecast.
It goes like this: at the crack of dawn, post an article in the morning saying there will be rain, snow, extreme heat or extreme cold.
Share it, then watch the shares, comments and angry emojis flow in.
I noticed this on a recent Friday, when I was lucky enough to have off work for a four-day weekend to visit family in Lancaster County.
As I sat in a long line of traffic waiting to get into a farmers market, I opened up Facebook. The first post was a news article saying we should expect thunderstorms that day. In just a few minutes it had dozens of likes and shares.
I had planned to go for a motorcycle ride that day. When I got back from the market I decided I would cruise until the rains came, then carefully guide the bike back to my relatives’ house.
Anybody who has ever ridden a motorcycle knows there are days where the miles just fly by and you feel no urge to stop riding. By the time I pulled back into the garage, the trip meter read just under 200 miles — a great day on the bike.
That night, I told my dad I was happy I had ignored the weather. He said he had plans outside as well but was “fooled” by the forecast.
Today we have dozens of sources offering “accurate local forecasting.”
There’s AccuWeather, Dark Sky, Weather Bug, Weather Channel, What the Forecast — previously known as Effing Weather — and my favorite, Weather Puppy — which advertises the fact that “the puppies feel the weather with you.”
Unfortunately I don’t think they are making us any better at predicting the weather.
In fact, the most popular forecasts are the ones which predict the most dramatic weather. Just look at Facebook in the winter. The forecasts which people share the most are the ones that predict the biggest snow totals.
Some of these amateur forecasts are literally made using MS Paint to draw on a weather map.
Too often these days, I see people on social media changing their plans because of the forecast. A forecast is just that — it’s not a guarantee.
The weather forecaster can’t give you back the events you missed after you skipped them because of a fear of rain.
I’ve learned the hard way going to different sporting events and trying to make a call on the weather. It’s better to do everything you can by showing up and waiting for the weather than to make your own call and stay home.
This goes beyond weather: If you made plans to visit a friend weeks ago, but on the big day you waffle for one reason or another, it’s good to step back and say “will I regret skipping this?”
It’s easier than the feeling of FOMO — fear of missing out — which inevitably comes after you miss out on something fun.
We’re also guilty of overselling the forecast to our friends. Last week, a friend tweeted that he was unsure about going to a Sprint Car race because the forecast looked daunting. This race in particular was special because NASCAR stars like Tony Stewart were racing at a local track.
I decided to open my big mouth. I tweeted that it just started raining at my house, and it didn’t look like a promising night for a speedway made out of dirt.
This was Tuesday — one of the days last week where the sun was shining during the middle of a rainstorm.
A half-hour later, the skies cleared, and I headed to the race. My friend stayed home and missed out.
That made me feel a little bad.
Now, when I see a friend debating the weather, I’ll keep my opinion to myself. He can decide on his own — or look to Weather Puppy.