Do You Check the Weather?

Is this why people check the weather?

The other day I was reading a report about what people do online. It’s a pretty cool infographic if you have the chance to check it out.

A lot of the results are to be expected. But one statistic caught my eye:

81% of people check the weather online.

The “online” part of that statement isn’t important to me. It’s the 81% to me. The vast majority of people actually find some utility in forecasted weather.

Honestly, this flabbergasts me. Literally the only time I check the weather is when I’m driving to and from Virginia. That means I check the weather 0.5% days of the time. The other 99.5%? I open my door and look outside. Not for the forecast. For the actual weather.

I’m trying not to judge the 81% here. I mean, if you want to rely on forecasts and predictions, I’m not stopping you. But what are you getting out of it? Even if the forecasts were correct 100% of the time, what would you do differently?

For example, say you wake up tomorrow and it’s sunny outside. Doppler forecasts have been predicted (it’s the year 2407), and you know for sure that it’s going to rain at 3:00 today. Say it’s not even an average day when you sit inside at work all day–say that you’re going on a corporate retreat at an outdoor ropes course. Are you going to change anything you do that day because you know that it’s going to rain? No. Regardless of whether or not you knew it in advance, when it starts to rain, you’ll get off the ropes course and go inside. The forecast doesn’t matter. The current weather matters.

The exception to this (and I’m open to other exceptions in the comments) is really bad weather. If there’s a winter storm coming in a few days, you might want to stock up on food.

Although, honestly, even that concept is kind of absurd to me. When was the last time you were completely unable to attain food? Compare that incredibly low number to the number of times where the weather guy has told you that there was going to be a huge blizzard, and instead you got a light dusting of snow.

I guess the other exception might be tornadoes, but unless weather forecasts can predict exactly when and where tornadoes will touch down, that information is useless. What matters is that a tornado is happening right now.

So that’s how I feel about weather reports. I’d put it in the same category as “expert” predictions in sports. Why would you spend your time reading about which team might win when you can just watch the game and find out for yourself or look at the score afterwards, when a team has actually won.

31 thoughts on “Do You Check the Weather?”

  1. Hurricanes! Gotta check the weather for those.

    I check the weather to know what range of temperatures to expect to experience during the day. That way I can dress appropriately. If rain is in the forecast, I’ll bring a raincoat. I can’t just open the door and have a good idea of what temperature it will be that afternoon or evening. That is the value of weather forecasting.

    I was bothered by a few things in this post. First, data are; datum is. Second, you must be exaggerating the amount of your time spent checking the weather because I frequently check the weather, but it definitely doesn’t account for 0.5% of my time. Last, there is no good way to compare the forecasting of weather to the prediction of the outcome of a sporting event.

    • To help ease your bothered state, Jamey was saying the percent of days (of the year, one assumes), not the amount of time overall. Meaning, he travels to VA 1.825 days per year. Not that he looked at weather 1.825 days per year.

      Okay, I was curious so I did the math. If you looked at the weather every day (365-day based year) for 3 minutes per day, you would spend a total of .20833333333333% of days/year looking at the weather. Which is 1.0341666666545 days/year.

      Whereas Jamey averages looking at the weather 5.475 minutes/year (based on the arbitrarily assigned 3-minute/day amount).

      So, you would spend 1483.72499998248 more minutes per year looking at the weather. But if you’re doing just temperature range, you’d probably just cut that number in half or less, because it’d only take a minute and a half to pull up the weather temps range for the day. And if you have an app for it, it’d be less time.

      To continue easing your bothered state, data is accepted as plural and singular depending on style guide and whether or not it’s being used as a mass noun or not. But, not to fret, because I cannot find “data” or “datum” in Jamey’s post now, so he must have edited it out just for you! 🙂

      And you’re so right about hurricanes!

  2. I check the weather compulsively, partly so that I can dress accordingly, partly because I’m neurotic and like to have at least some sense of what is to come (and yes, this includes weather), and partly to plan out weekly activities. In the summer, for example, if I know that I want to eat at a restaurant with outdoor seating one day during the week, I’ll plan to go on the day that is supposed to have the best weather and avoid the day when it’s going to pour – or be ridiculously hot. I also check the weather to decide which days to run outdoors during the week, knowing that if I’m only going to run a few times, I’d like to try for the days with the nicer weather. I know my sister checks weather a lot to plan out activities with her kids – to have some “rainy day” ideas and to know when they should be able to do something outdoors.

    Also, I’m going to the Dominican Republic next month and have been checking their weather on a near-weekly basis for at least 5 months. And yes, I realize this is not normal behavior. Because Chicago generally has abysmal weather, I fairly often check the weather in other places – whether I’m planning a trip there or not – to help me daydream about seeing the sun again one day.

  3. This is all so foreign to me–it’s fascinating! I’m amazed that people actually change their behavior (like planning lunch and bringing raincoats) based on the CHANCE that it might rain instead of changing their behavior (like eating inside or being okay with getting a teensy bit wet) based on what actually happens. Do you all also carry around bandages in the off chance that you might slip and fall today, or bongo drums in the off chance that you stumble upon a drum circle? (To be fair, I keep a ladder golf set in my trunk just in case anyone ever says, “I wish we could play ladder golf right now.”)

  4. Well the great thing about weather forecasts is that they give you a percent chance of something happening. I’m not talking about planning a meal to avoid a couple raindrops. In a city where its not uncommon to have heavy rain all day and all night for several days in a row, certain outdoor activities become very unpleasant and/or not very feasible in inclement weather. Not all of us prefer our food and beverages to be watered down 🙂

    And no, I don’t keep bandages with me at all times, but its not out of the question that I would bring some if I were engaging in some activity where I was likely to get cut (no idea what that would be…knife fighting??).

    Also, I’m surprised to hear so much push back against planning ahead of time from a man who keeps (kept?) a database of the outfits he wears to avoid duplication 🙂

    • Ha ha…I like the knife fighting example. Good call.

      You have a good point, it IS odd that I find the weather-checking concept so foreign since I plan ahead so much. I guess I like to plan ahead for definite things, and I just don’t take weather into consideration until it’s definitely happening.

      And I totally understand the idea of not enjoying certain outdoor activities if it’s pouring rain. Like, I don’t like to play soccer in the rain. But I don’t base my decision to play soccer tonight based on a forecast–I base it on whether or not it’s actually raining when it’s time to play soccer.

      Perhaps it’s not coming across in these comments, but I’m truly fascinated by all of this. Thank you for indulging my fascination.

      • Let’s pretend your work and soccer playing were right by each other and it was silly to go home after work and come back to play soccer, so you bring your soccer gear to work with you. Would you just ALWAYS bring it, no matter what, or would you check the weather?

        • I want to answer that question completely honestly: Soccer and work are located right near each other, and I’ve only ever gone home and then gone back to soccer when it turns out that I’ve forgotten boxer briefs and need a tighter package for my package, if you know what I mean. Otherwise, if it’s raining when I pack up for work in the morning, I rarely pack soccer gear because I know the field is going to be wet (or it’s still going to be raining), so I’m not going to play. If it’s sunny or overcast in the morning, I pack my gear on every soccer day. Every one.

  5. Hah, this is funny. I don’t have a car, so I check the weather most mornings so I know whether to wear/bring rain gear on my bike ride, or whether I need to bundle up if I will be out past dark. I also have a dog, so I use the (admittedly laughably accurate) forecast to guess whether I should let the dog romp in the yard or not.

    I personally prefer to step outside to gauge the temperature, but when I am riding my bike or riding the bus and weight/volume of my things matters, I’d rather not carry an umbrella and raincoat around all the time if I don’t have to. I never mind getting wet but when I’m on bike or foot, it’s nice to be insulated.

    • Ah, I can see how weather would affect someone who bikes to work. That makes sense. Although I will add that I rode my bike to school every day in Japan, and I always based my bike outfit on the actual weather, not the forecast. Because if it rains while you’re biking, you’re getting wet no matter what you wear for protection. I guess where I was, the weather never took huge swings throughout the day. Like, if it was cold in the morning, it was going to be cold in the evening when I biked home. If it was bright and sunny in the morning, there was a good chance it would be bright and sunny in the evening.

      So let me ask you this: How many times do you carry extra gear because the forecast calls for rain, and it never rains? And conversely, how many times do you carry no rain gear because it’s not forecasted, but it rains?

  6. I look up the weather pretty much everyday on my phone. I just need to know what they predict it’s going to happen. I dress according to their somewhat accurate forecast. I like to stay warm and dry. I don’t want to walk into the office smelling like a wet dog. There’s a good 200 meters between garage and building. Nice short walks during shiny mornings warmed by the summer sun compare to long hellacious journeys with freezing cold winds and puddles of icy salty water in the slushy St. Louis winter.

    And I do have band-aids, tooth picks, and a small flashlight in my purse. I’m prepared for Armageddon. LOL!!

    • Jasmin: I partially understand the “dry” part, although is the weather all that different when you dress from when you get out of your car at work? But warm/cold? Isn’t the outside temperature pretty obvious when you’re getting dressed, with little risk of it drastically changing?

  7. Oh I 100% agree about why watch game predictions. I hate pre-game shows. Ugh. Only enjoyable on FSC with the blond guy who smiles really largely at random times. And that’s only because I’m entertained by his random smiling, not because I am listening to him.

    Anyway, I rarely check weather. But where I live, and where I used to live, have very predictable weather… In central Florida it rains, almost guaranteed, a thunderstorm downpour somewhere between 3pm and 6pm during the summer. From Oct-May in Portland, it’s basically guaranteed to have slight rain at some point in the day and be overcast.

    I check weather for snow reports on the mountains, to see what the weather is like in other cities, to escape the heat wave in the city (Oregon coast is usually 10-20F cooler than Portland), and planning for trips. That’s it.

    My sister LOVES the weather though. She checks it every day. My grandfather used to always watch the weather. I think some people just enjoy the weather. 81% perhaps?

    • Lorena–I’m glad I have a fellow sport predictions hater. It just doesn’t make sense!

      Checking weather to plan for trips…interesting. I’m trying to think if I did that before leaving for Ireland. I honestly don’t think I did. I think I just assumed it would be cold, and I packed appropriately.

      I think your conclusion must be correct: Some people (perhaps even most people) genuinely enjoy checking the weather. It may not make sense to me, but I’m glad people find joy in it.

  8. I check the weather on my phone most mornings for a couple reasons:

    1. If there is a modest chance of rain I throw my compact umbrella in my purse. I am not a high maintenance girl. It takes me 5 mins total to blow dry and run a hot iron through my mostly but not completely straight hair and I use no products. However, the slightest mist of rain will turn my hair into a (not curly, but not straight, frizzy and no longer soft and smooth) mess. Not a good look for visiting clients.
    2. As cute as coats are, I have a mild hatred for them. They are bulky and you take them on and off and possibly have to carry them around at times. Because I sometimes work late, I like to know if when the sun goes down will I feel the need for a coat, or am I wasting my time bringing it when I could just wear a heavy sweater, or fashionable jacket. So thinking about wheather to wear short, 3/4, or long sleeves and the various options of jackets and sweaters are all decisions I face in the morning to prepare for the day.

    With most men having short hair and business men wearing the standard long-sleeved button up there isn’t as much at stake or decisions to be made.
    I also should admit I used to love opening the door to feel the weather, but now living in a 7th floor loft, it’s not the brightest idea.

    I should admit though this is usual for me since I am a planner… I am that person who carries a few band-aids, bottle opener, nail clippers, mini flashlight, protien bar, pain meds, migraine pills, beer koozie, and even hair ties (for the day it rains and I didn’t check the weather). More importantly, I have used all of these items at some point, and people ask me for these items often.

    • I’ve long been obsessed with checking the weather. I grew up in South Texas where it is pretty consistently hot & humid, a climate I hate, and I partly started checking the weather because the optimist in me always hoped to see cooler weather on the way. It’s also of great importance to me to be dressed warm enough or cool enough for the needs of the day so it always comforts me to check the temperature forecast. If I’m traveling, I need to know how to pack for the weather where I’m headed. I fly for a living so I’m in a lot of different places and for my peace of mind and to be prepared when passengers ask, I try to keep advised of the weather where we’re flying. I guess weather just interests me because I also love to look at the national weather forecast in the newspaper and see what’s happening in different parts of the country (especially in places where I have loved ones). It’s such a normal thing to me I’m fascinated that there are people like you who pay it no mind! 🙂

      • Stefanie–I have to agree with you about the look of the national weather chart in the paper (particularly USA Today). It looks very scientific and official.

        I guess the fascination goes both ways! 🙂

    • Jodie–Do you ever get caught in the rain when you haven’t planned for the rain and don’t have your umbrella? Is it too bulky to keep in your purse at all times just in case?

      I see what you’re saying about coats (although I think tight peacoats on women are awfully cute), but what’s the difference between testing the temperature outside and looking online? Isn’t the way you perceive temperature more important than a number on a website?

      I guess you essentially answer that question with the statement about the 7th floor…unless the windows open up there. It’s not like I’m stepping naked out onto my balcony–I just stick my hand out the door to see what it feels like out there.

      I particularly appreciate that you carry around migraine pills.

      • I have gotten caught in the rain before, as a matter of fact I remember bringing my umbrella to work one day not too long ago and when I went to lunch decided (for reasons unknown to me) to take my umbrella out of my purse because co workers said they did not hear of a chance for rain like I had. On the way back to the office it was raining, we all got rather soaked. So, I had to pull out a hair tie and make the best of it.

        I could carry my umbrella at all times, it’s about 7 inches long and 2 inches diameter, (wow that just sounded dirty) but who really wants to pull out their umbrella on a sunny (no chance of rain) day to get to their credit card??

        As much as I may detest coats, I do have a plethora of colors and styles of what I think are adorable coats. However, if it’s not below 35ish there is no point in sporting said coats.

        I can, and do often, open my windows. However, I’m not a morning person and with “suicide windows” (8′ windows with no screen that start a foot from the floor) I’d rather not chance it. Also sticking my hand out the window at 7:30AM will not tell me that the temp will be dropping below 35 degrees at 7:30PM when I may very well be just leaving the office.

        Migraines are nothing to mess around with! People with “bad headaches” may never understand, and be thankful you don’t (I have Excedrin migraine for you people). But if you are in your office or driving your car you can’t exactly lay down, turn off all noises and lights, close your eyes, and put a cool washcloth on your forehead.

        I get that guys shouldn’t carry a man bag, so if you don’t make fun of all the things I carry and how much I manage to fit in my medium sized purse you my friends are able to reap the benefits. 🙂 If society didn’t frown upon you carrying a bag (purse) what things you would like to carry “just in case”?

        • Oh, I wasn’t being facetious about migraines. I, too, get terrible migraines–I have since I was in elementary school. I would highly value you in a situation where a migraine crept up on me (although usually I can see them coming now).

          Good points about the umbrella and 7th-floor window.

  9. The only time I check the weather is if I’m traveling and need to know what types of clothes to pack.

    Sports predictions can sometimes help those who bet on games. If you aren’t gambling on it, then it probably wouldn’t matter.

        • I no longer maintain that spreadsheet thanks to a new system I have in place in my closet. I might need to write a blog entry on that spreadsheet, though, so I’ll leave the details about that vague right now.

  10. Saturday evening I was going to a game at the Dome. It was 63 degrees when I left. I looked at the weather and saw it was going to drop drastically while we were at the game. I brought a scarf and a jacket. The person I went with used your method of stepping outside and changed out of his sweater into a light shirt.

    It dropped to 38 degrees and rainy during the game. As we ran the half mile to the car I was glad I had checked the weather :).

  11. I watch the local weather forecast on the news and check it online, just to be informed of what’s predicted for the day and the week. Temperatures are fairly predictable here in St. Louis, according to season, so I mainly check out the weather to see if it’s going to rain or snow/sleet/ice. While the forecasts are not always 100% accurate, I would rather be safe than sorry, and be prepared for the worst. Especially in regards to precipitation, there’s normally a good chance that the forecast will be fairly/somewhat accurate, because the meteorologists track the weather systems that are making their way across the country (jet streams, high and low fronts, etc.). So weather forecasts aren’t just made up out of the blue – there are factors that help to predict what the weather may be like once it gets to your local city, based on what it’s been doing in other areas of the country. That’s where I find a weather forecast valuable. 🙂

    I don’t go for sports predictions, although I guess the experts have some sort of back-up to their predictions, based on which teams have done well throughout the year. Sports are supposed to be fun, though, so I agree with you on that, Jamey … that you might as well just watch the game and see what happens! The St. Louis Cardinals are a good example of a team beating the odds and making it all the way, when the experts didn’t think they could do it! 🙂

  12. nice post

    With our startup we are building a Social Local Mobile Platform on realtime weather

    We are still working hard on it and any feedback will be more than welcome”

    Ps can I quote some part of you post in the written material we use to explain the idea behind our project!

    thanks again



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