It is very common for photographers to scout out locations ahead of time. You want to check out an area to see if it is worthy of getting up before dawn and traveling there, or staying out until dark. We often do this with no guarantees of what the dawn, sunset or any other time will bring.
When shooting in the outdoors, we are completely at the whim of Mother Nature. But, we also have to be aware of what goes on around us, because sometimes, the 'good stuff' is happening where you least expect it.
This happened to me recently. I was scouting out an area late one day with the idea of coming back the next morning for a possible sunrise shot. I was on the East coast facing the ocean in Florida. As the sun was setting behind me, I started to notice that there were a few wispy clouds in the northeast quadrant, which started to get a little bit of color. As the sunset continued, the colors got better. The sunset itself, was very average, but the 'light show' with the clouds and surf on the opposite side was quite nice. Being in the wrong place at the right time!