Lesson from the weather forecasts

Can I be honest with you? I’m totally fed up with the weather forecasts. Belgian weather does justify the question what we have done to deserve this? It’s too often grey and rain seems to fall continuously from the sky. As a professional event organiser you can imagine my top google searches includes the forecast for the next trip destination. Like anyone else I prefer to see a sunny icon, eventually with some light grey clouds, with a temperature between 22-25 degrees.

Weather forecast 22 june
Source: Google weather forecast

The number that raises most concern is the chance of precipitation, which can range anywhere between 0% and 100%. But what does this actually mean?  Lets say the chance of precipitation is 40%. This simply means there is a 40 percent chance that rain will occur at any given point in the area (city). This does NOT mean it will rain 40% of the time. Even 100% doesn’t mean it will rain 100% of the time, only that it rains for sure somewhere in the area during that day or specific part of the day (see: https://www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc/?n=pop).

So what to do with this information? I think there is a lesson to be learnt for all of us, expats and locals, on what we do with our time. I namely often receive messages from members who do not want to join upcoming trips as the weather doesn’t look good. I fully admit that on a day like yesterday it is not really pleasant to leave the house (Tuesday 21 June, the start of summer for crying out loud!). Indeed, what have we done to deserve this? But if you ask me how many trips were completely spoiled because of bad weather the answer may surprise you!

Paris Air 424x283
The Sukhoi SU-35 at the Paris Air Show… totally worth waiting for in the pouring rain. 22 June 2013

Indeed, I can only remember 1 single trip (out of many dozens) that was really horrible because of the weather. That particular day was 22 June 2013 when we went to the Paris Air Show. But we grinned and bear it all the way to the end, despite the cold and despite the rain. The fact that the Sukhoi SU-35 was the last airplane to perform was a big motivation to stay all the way until the end though.


Of course it did rain more often during Expat Club trips. However, most of the time that was only for a short period. For instance, last weekend in Giverny we had maybe 20-30 minutes of rain. Luckily most of us were inside buying Monet souvenirs at that time. With forecasted chances of precipitation 1-7 days before this trip ranging from 40 to even 80%, it may surprise you that we only “suffered” the heavenly wetness for 20 minutes. In fact, we closed the final hours of the day with very pleasant sunny spring weather.

The same thing happened during a trip to Durbuy in 2015 (incredible downpour for just 5-10 minutes) and another time to Bastogne in 2014 (same thing at the very final 10 minutes before our return departure). Besides a few exceptions, it has virtually almost always better to much better than my/our perception of what it will be.


Needless to say that the weather forecast does have an effect on the number of people joining for events. In particular for activities like kayaking and sailing many more register if the weather is going to be grand. Still, in a shameless act of promoting Expat Club trips I can only suggest to simply not care so much about the forecast, unless the actual front page of your newspaper does mention heavy and prolonged rains or severe cold.

In all other situations you should simply go on any trip that you like. As said, our perception of what the weather will be like does most of the time not match the reality of the actual weather conditions on the day itself. The last few trips I have told the same lesson to people that were actually joining. One after the other it was just much better than “predicted”: Sailing, Giverny, Disneyland, Opal Coast, the White Cliffs of Dover, Disneyland, etc.


So my suggestion is to simply do whatever you would like to do. This of course does not only apply to Expat Club trips, but to what you do in general. Get out there! Take eventually a jacket and umbrella with you, but don’t worry too much about the weather. It is not as bad as you think. Did you btw know it rains only 6% of the time in Belgium, and then also a lot at night? People who do understand this make much more of their expat time here in Brussels than those who don’t. They see and do considerably more. And what if you get wet? In Dutch we have the expression “you’re not made of sugar”. That is exactly what I took home from that Paris Air Show. It was a grand day, even though I was soaking wet at the end. But again, that was just an exception.

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  1. […] To answer a question with another question, isn’t this article’s topic just an absurd question? From a certain perspective it is, because there is obviously nothing we can do about the rain. We can just deal with it and make the best of our day. In fact, whenever I speak to newly arrived expats I always say it is important to have the right mindset when it comes to the weather in Brussels. Key is that you should just do the things you want to do and go to the places you would like to visit. Obviously you’re not going to go to a beach when it’s only 13 degrees and pouring. But if you had in mind to go shopping in Antwerp or making a little road trip through Wallonie, my suggestion is to not change your plans. Of course nice weather is nicer (duhh), but the problem is there are just too few of those and wait for them. Your time as an expat is short, so go out there and see this city and explore the country. If you are interested in some additional insights into weather in Belgium, read this blog post. […]