I have many weather apps on my phone, and when it's raining, they all agree: "Hey, it's raining." Saves me the trouble of lifting my head and looking out the window like it's the 17th century or something.
But beyond immediate details, they get things wrong. I don't know if it's the source of their information — one of them gets the data from the National Weather Service, the other from a guy who studies the thickness of caterpillar fur and the average number of cricket chirps divided by the number of sunspots historically over a century — but they all seem to think they can predict the future 10 days out.
"There's a 30% chance of showers at 3 p.m. in eight days!" Like the rain is a band on tour, with scheduled stops, and they're definitely booked at the Armory but there's a 30% chance the lead singer will get hoarse and have to cancel.
Even short-term forecasts are spotty, and we all know this. Rain forecast for tomorrow: Sounds nice, but what are the chances? Twenty percent? So, no rain. Or maybe it falls on one-fifth of the lawn. Fifty percent? Really? Hey, I can flip a coin, too.
Last weekend there was a 60% chance of rain at 11 a.m. It did not rain. There was a 70% chance at noon, and it did. So the rain was just late. The clouds got talking with some other clouds as they passed through: "Hey, Nimbus, long time no see, how are things?" "Oh, puffy, white, you know how it goes."
And then they get to chatting, complaining about shooting pains from all the airplanes. And then, suddenly, it occurs to them: "Ope, look at the time, gotta move on." The rain cloud shows up an hour later and does the sudden strenuous dump routine so we think we're really getting the business. Some overly dramatic tree sheds a branch. And that's it.
We were supposed to have an all-day soaker. To whom do I complain? This is like settling down to watch "Top Gun" and it's 10 minutes of a guy riding a 25-cent mechanical horse outside the Ben Franklin.
But don't worry: The app says the rain will be back at 3 p.m. Three o'clock comes: Nothing. Did the storm snag on a wind turbine blade and sprout a leak and lose everything? Then it gets bright and sunny, and you can hear your lawn start to cry like kids at a picnic when the ice cream runs out early.
Check the app: Rain at 5 p.m., we mean it. There was a mixup on the directions, the clouds plugged in the wrong directions to the GPS. Great. Now it's like a long-delayed DoorDash order. The rain will come, but it'll be cold. "No tip for you," we shout at the skies.
Around 5 p.m., the app said it would be dry the rest of the day, with no explanation, no apology. "Did we say it would rain? Prove it. You got screenshots? Well, those can be faked. Anyway, clear skies until a week from Monday, when there's a 14.7% chance of rain. Ninety percent if you're having an outdoor wedding."
Around 11 p.m. it started raining, and it didn't let up for hours. You can thank me. I checked the weather maps, found a place where it was raining and changed my weather app's location to that city. Worked great. Try it sometime.