You’re planning something. Will the weather impact it? What do we think you should do?
The answer depends on a bunch of things. There is no one size fits all. Consider these things then decide.
CAN YOU MONITOR THE WEATHER WHILE DOING YOUR THING
Forecasting isn’t good enough to give you the certainty and reliability you want. You must stay connected. ETAs change. Unexpected storms pop up. Risks and hazards need consistent updates. So if you plan to do your thing, stay connected.
YOUR CRAP APP
Do not bet your safety on the timing product on a crap app (“the storm will be here in 2 hours 34 minutes”). What a bunch of crap. Storms move at variable speeds. New storms develop and dissipate. Apps do not handle this well (or at all). Some of y’all act as if the weather a x location at y time is knowable. I don’t blame you — a “respected” brand is giving you a minute by minute crystal ball reading. But the level of specificity you’re asking for is beyond the state of the science. It’s not that forecasters aren’t trying to give you the most specific possible information possible. We all are. But predicting the weather is impossibly complex. Information reliability improves as we near the event. Apps are more than happy to give you a specific x time, y location answer . . . even though we all know that answer is crap. Problem is apps are junk food. You never really feel better when you’re done eating it.
HOW CLOSE WILL YOU BE TO SAFETY
Some of these hazards get on top of you fast. So you need fast access to safety. Consider the hazard and the safe option. In lightning, a fully enclosed structure (car) you can get to fast will do it. In wind, away from large trees. In severe thunderstorms, a site built fully enclosed structure. In tornadoes, lowest level, interior room, of a non mobile or manufactured home.
If you aren’t close to safety, you got problems. If your plans distance you from safety, it’s a NoGo from me.
WHAT ARE YOU RISKING IF YOU GET CAUGHT IN A STORM
How bad do you really need to do your thing? How vulnerable are you? Do you have expensive equipment that can’t get wet? Think about that stuff. Is what you’re planning worth the risk?
WHAT ARE YOU RISKING IF YOU CANCEL AND IT DOESN’T STORM
What are the down sides of canceling your plans and the bad weather doesn’t happen? Is a backlash coming?
Weigh that against the down sides of going forward and getting stormed on.
DO YOU HAVE A PLAN
Your personal plan is where is my safety and how fast can I get there.
If you’re in charge of others, make sure you have a plan for their safety, too. Know how much time it takes to get them to safety and make the decision to let’s get to safety now in time.
If you don’t have a plan, it’s a NoGo from me.
NEED VS WANT
Consider not exposing yourself at all in “want to” things. In “need to” things, invest in weather awareness radar and access to “close to where I’ll be” shelters.
Most lightning victims are boaters and golfers. Zapped by a “want” to activity. Is that fish or birdie worth it? Reduce your vulnerability during “want” activities.
Outdoor workers have got to earn a living. They need to be in vulnerable places. If you’re in charge of outdoor workers, maybe show them you care about them by making the safety decision for them. Designate a radar watcher. Be sure your people have a safe place to go. Care about them. Kinda a crappy thing to do to put them in a spot to decide between their personal safety and the need to get the job done.
WHAT IS YOUR RISK TOLERANCE
Maybe you like to play the odds. Many times you “get away with it,” the hazards miss you, even if you’re maximizing your exposure by making “unsafe” decisions. If you keep ignoring warnings, the odds you’ll be zapped increase. Only you can strike the proper balance. Think about others who not only love you, but also depend on you, when doing risky things. Is it really worth it?
I may be willing to risk a rained out golf event. But if lightning’s involved, I’m out of there.
WHEN TO MAKE THE MOVE
Most people wait until it starts pouring before running to safety. Those moments before the rain starts are best used to get to safety. Why wait until you’re soaked to move? Not to mention you’re exposed to lightning well before the first drop hits your head. Make the move while it’s safe to do so.
When it comes to tornadoes, take the 30 minutes out of your day to shelter. Tornado warnings are rare. They’re issued because the best tornado detecting scientific team wants you to take shelter. They don’t take that decision lightly. The simple act of sheltering in a lowest level, interior room significantly reduces your vulnerability to a life-threatening storm.
DON’T OVERSTATE THE RISK
Make informed decisions. Lightning from a thunderstorm 75 miles away isn’t a reason to cancel a ball game. Do not overreact after the danger has passed. I know social media is full of attention whoring attention merchants competing for clicks through fear. Combat that by informing yourself.
Tornadoes cross rivers. Hills and mountains don’t protect you from damaging winds. Lightning strikes twice in the same place. The bad decision from the driver ahead of you doesn’t endorse you driving across a water covered road. Dangers remain even if you dodged it despite your past unsafe decisions.