Last updated on February 8th, 2024 at 05:50 pm
The Cloudiest Cities in the United States vary significantly from coast to coast, with US cities that average a significant cloud cover, making them part of the cloudiest cities.
- Anchorage, Alaska – Due to its northern location and maritime climate, Anchorage has a high number of cloudy days, with approximately 230 days per year experiencing cloud cover.
- Seattle, Washington – Famous for its overcast weather, Seattle is often cited as one of the cloudiest cities in the U.S. with about 226 cloudy days per year.
- Portland, Oregon – Similar to Seattle, Portland experiences a significant amount of cloud cover, with an average of 222 cloudy days annually.
- Buffalo, New York – Located near the Great Lakes, Buffalo is affected by lake-effect clouds and snow, resulting in approximately 208 cloudy days per year.
- Cleveland, Ohio – Another city impacted by the Great Lakes, Cleveland sees about 202 cloudy days annually.
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – Known for its industrial history and also its weather, Pittsburgh averages about 203 cloudy days per year.
- Detroit, Michigan – Close to the Great Lakes, Detroit experiences a significant amount of cloudiness, with around 202 cloudy days per year.
- Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Also in the Great Lakes region, Milwaukee sees a high number of cloudy days, with an average of 203 days annually.
This article takes a journey to the regions with the maximum cloudiness, identifying the cities with the dreariest skies.
Understanding Cloud Cover
Whenever you look up at the sky and see a blanket of gray, you’re witnessing cloud cover. A portion of the sky is covered by clouds when observed from a particular location. Cloud cover often gives a day its character: bright, sunny, gloomy, and gray. The type of clouds, whether cumulus, stratus, or cirrus, and their density define how they’ll impact the sunlight reaching you.
You might wonder how meteorologists measure cloudiness. They use a simple scale called oktas, dividing the sky into eight parts. Zero oktas means clear skies, while eight oktas indicate total cloud cover. Your local weather report in America might quantify cloudiness using this scale, helping you understand if you’re living in one of the cloudiest cities on a given day.
Impacts of Persistent Clouds on Lifestyle and Mood
If the sky above you is often cloudy, it can profoundly affect your lifestyle and mood. Lack of sunlight can lead to Vitamin D deficiency, affecting your health. It can also lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that arises during certain seasons, usually the cloudier, darker ones. Moreover, persistent clouds can influence your daily activities, like the need for artificial lighting during the day.
The Metrics of Gloom: How Cloudiness is Ranked
Average Annual Cloudy Days
We look at the average annual cloudy days in various US cities that average such conditions to understand how often a city is cloud-covered. This metric tallies the days when clouds cover over three-quarters of the sky in US cities that average such conditions.
Percentage of Possible Sunshine
Another useful statistic is the percentage of possible sunshine a city gets. This tells you what fraction of daylight hours are sunny. Current results suggest that a lower percentage implies a higher prevalence of cloud cover during the day.
Geographic and Seasonal Variations in Cloud Cover
Your location on the map and the time of year significantly impact cloudiness levels. Some regions, including the city in the country known as the cloudiest, experience pronounced seasonal variations, with skies dramatically clearer or cloudier at certain times of the year. Geography plays its role, too; cities at certain latitudes or near bodies of water tend to have more cloud cover.
Topographical and Meteorological Reasons for Cloudiness
Coastal versus Inland Cities
In the Pacific Northwest, which is known for its frequent rainfall, you’ll likely notice that coastal cities often have more clouds than inland ones. This is due to maritime systems that carry moisture-laden air over the coast, which then rises, condenses, and forms clouds, a phenomenon less common in the drier air of interior locales.
Mountains, also in the Pacific Northwest, are known to shape cloud patterns, so they surround some of the 10 cloudiest cities in America. As air is forced upwards over mountainous terrain, it cools and condenses into clouds, so you often find more clouds hugging the slopes and peaks than in the valleys below.
Proximity to Lakes and Oceans
Being near large bodies of water like lakes and oceans, as seen in some of the cloudiest cities in the US, can also lead to increased cloudiness. Water bodies have moderate temperatures, leading to more stable conditions conducive to the cloudy weather often experienced in America’s major cities. This is especially true when water temperatures and air temperatures differ significantly.
America’s Pacific Northwest: A Haven for Cloud-Lovers
Seattle’s Skyline: A Canvas for Clouds
Seattle, nestled between Puget Sound and Lake Washington in the Pacific Northwest, is known for its cloudy canvas and frequent rainfall. The Olympic Mountains to the west and the Cascades to the east contribute to the city’s many cloudy days, offering a moody backdrop to the iconic Space Needle.
Portland’s Persistent Puffiness
A bit south of Seattle, Portland shares the Pacific Northwest’s cloud-loving spirit. It’s not uncommon to experience an overcast sky, creating an almost permanent puffiness over the city’s landscape, making its coffee shops even more inviting.
Why the Pacific Northwest is Synonymous with Clouds
The Pacific Northwest’s reputation for cloudiness is well-earned. Air currents from the Pacific Ocean, known for its frequent rainfall, bring moisture to cities in the Pacific Northwest, and the region’s complex topography traps it, resulting in persistent cloud cover.
The Persistent Fog of Coastal California
San Francisco’s Iconic Fog
San Francisco is famous for its summer fog, affectionately called Karl. It rolls in from the ocean and blankets the city, often covering the Golden Gate Bridge, creating a spectacular scene for photographers and a challenge for commuters!
Eureka’s Enveloping Cloud Cover
Further up the coast, Eureka experiences its brand of enveloping cloud cover. Its position on the Northern California coastline subjects it to marine layers that can hang low and thick, giving the city a mysterious, ethereal vibe.
Ocean Currents and Coastal Cloud Formation
The dynamic between ocean currents and coastal cloud formation is fascinating. Cold currents from the Gulf of Alaska travel down the west coast, chilling the air above the water. When this cool, moist air meets the warmer air of the coast, the moisture condenses into the dense fog and cloud cover in coastal California, making it one of the cloudiest cities in the US.
The Great Lakes Effect: Cloudy Cities by the Water
Cleveland’s Constant Clouds
Cleveland, by the shores of Lake Erie, often finds itself under a blanket of clouds, making it one of the 10 cloudiest cities. This is a classic example of the Great Lakes effect, where evaporative moisture from the lake surfaces forms clouds that linger over adjacent urban areas.
Buffalo’s Blanket of Gray
Similarly, Buffalo, located at Lake Erie’s eastern end, is also subjected to this phenomenon. It’s known for its overcast skies, especially in the late fall and winter, which brings it to the list of the gloomiest cities in America, when the contrast between the cold air and relatively warmer lake water is most pronounced.
Understanding Lake-Effect Cloudiness
Lake-effect cloudiness occurs when cold, dry air passes over warmer lake waters. As the air picks up moisture and warmth, it rises and cools, forming clouds. This effect can lead to persistent cloudy conditions over and downwind of the Great Lakes.
Northeastern Cloud Capitals
Pittsburgh is defined by its rivers and the Appalachian Mountains framing it. These geographical features contribute to its often cloudy skies, with moist air from the rivers and valleys forming clouds that blanket the city’s hilly landscape.
The Overcast Skies of Burlington
Burlington, nestled by Lake Champlain and close to the Green Mountains, experiences similar weather effects. This scenic city entertains many cloudy days, particularly in the colder months when lake-effect processes come into play.
Historical Perspectives on Northeastern Cloudiness
The Northeastern United States has a long history of cloudiness that weaves into its cultural fabric. From the Industrial Revolution’s smoggy skies to today’s variable climate, these regions have adapted to life under a frequently obscured sun.
Alaskan Extremes: Limited Light and Looming Clouds
Anchorage’s Atmospheric Overcast
In Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city, you’ll find a unique combination of limited daylight in winter and extensive cloud cover. During certain times of the year, the city sees very few clear days, another aspect of living at such northern latitudes.
Unique Climatic Conditions of Alaska
Alaska’s climate is one of the cloudiest in America, characterized by its extremes. The interaction between cold polar air, warm oceanic currents, and Alaska’s diverse topography results in varied and often severe cloud-cover conditions, providing dramatic skies and challenging weather for its inhabitants.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and Coping Mechanisms
The significant cloud cover combined with Alaska’s latitude, also the cloudiest city in the country, means coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder is a part of life for many residents. Alaskans use light therapy, vitamin D supplements, and other coping mechanisms to combat the emotional and physical toll of extended cloudiness and limited light.
Cloud Cover in the American Heartland
Are There Cloudy Cities in the Midwest?
Yes, the Midwest does have its share of cloudy cities. While it might not be the first region that comes to mind when you think of cloudiness, areas near the Great Lakes, like Chicago and Detroit, often experience many cloudy days.
Weather Systems Across the Central States
The weather systems that move across the central states, including the city in the country known for its frequent rainfall, can bring prolonged periods of cloudiness. These include fronts that stall out and low-pressure systems that linger, particularly during the spring and fall transitional seasons.
How Geography Influences Midwestern Cloud Trends
The flat expanse of the American Heartland doesn’t have the mountains to trap clouds like in some of the cloudiest cities, but it does have the Great Lakes, which can be enough to significantly influence the number of cloudy days. These large bodies of water contribute to cloud formation in nearby areas, reinforcing the Midwest’s reputation for variable weather.
If you are planning to move and prefer a cloudy climate, two of the cloudiest cities in the U.S. to consider in 2022 would be the gloomy city of Eugene, along with other major American cities appearing on the list of the top 10 cloudiest places.
These cities average many cloudy days yearly, including days of heavy partial cloud. However, for those who favor sunnier weather, various cities are currently topping the list of the sunniest where one can find fewer cloudy days.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cloudy Cities
What are the cloudiest cities in the United States?
A: According to current climate data, the cloudiest cities in the United States are Portland, Seattle, and Buffalo. These cities have the most days of heavy cloud cover annually, making them part of the 10 cloudiest cities in the US.
Is Portland among the cloudiest cities in the United States?
A: Portland is among the cloudiest cities in the United States and the country’s cloudiest major city. During a year, Portland records many partially cloudy to cloudy days.
What is the cloudiest city in the United States based on the number of cloudy days each year?
A: According to the Climate Data from the National Weather Service, the cloudiest city in the United States is Anchorage, Alaska, with significantly more days of heavy cloud each year than any other major US city.
How are the cloudiest cities rated?
A: Cloudiest city ratings are generally determined by the average number of days per year with heavy or partial cloud cover. The data is collected from the National Weather Service and other reliable climate sources.
If I prefer gloomy weather, which city in the United States should I move to?
A: If you prefer gloomy weather or winter days, you should consider moving to major cities known for such weather patterns, like Portland and Seattle, which are also the cloudiest. These two cities rate highly on the list of the cloudiest cities in the US due to their gloomy, overcast weather; it’s cloudy there most of the time.
How does the gloomiest city, based on days of heavy cloud cover, compare to the sunniest city in the US?
A: From the list of cloudiest cities, the gloomiest city, Anchorage, has more than twice the number of heavy cloud days than the sunniest U.S. city, Yuma, Arizona.
Are the gloomiest cities in the United States also the coldest?
A: While there may be some overlap, the gloomiest cities in the US are not necessarily the coldest. Cloudy weather does not always mean cold temperatures. For instance, cities like Seattle and Portland, while among the cloudiest, do not usually experience the extreme cold temperatures seen in some other US cities.
Are there any major cities in the United States that average fewer cloudy days each year than most?
A: Yes, cities such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson have fewer average cloudy days each year when compared to other major cities included in the list of the cloudiest cities.
If you’re planning to move, which cities in the United States should you avoid if you prefer sunshine over cloudy weather?
A: If you prefer more sunshine, avoid the cloudiest cities in the United States, like Anchorage, Portland, and Seattle. These cities have several days of heavy cloud or partially cloudy weather.
Is there a definite list of the cloudiest cities in the United States?
A: There is no official list, but based on data from the National Weather Service, you can generally determine the cloudiest cities. This will be cities like Portland, Seattle, and Anchorage that experience many cloudy days each year.