Study reveals which US cities experience the most vs. least 'depressing' winters
By Ashley Williams, AccuWeather staff writer
A study conducted by researchers with financial technology company SmartAsset has revealed the 10 cities in the United States where residents are likely to experience the least amount of sunshine during the winter months.
“Along with financial considerations, like determining how much house you can afford, factors like weather and health can also be important to think about when relocating or buying a home,” said SmartAsset Vice President of Financial Education AJ Smith, who oversaw the research.
“As a result, we crunched the numbers to find the cities with the most and least depressing winters,” Smith said.
In order to compile the list, the study took into account two main factors, including the percentage of sunlight experienced in each city during the frigid months of November through February.
The study’s sunshine metric utilized data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The study also considered solar radiation, or how much energy a solar panel in each city was able to generate in a given day.
“For our solar radiation metric, we analyzed 30 years of solar panel data collected at solar arrays around the country by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to find the average daily energy production in kilowatt hours per square meter of a solar panel in each city [between November and February],” Smith said.
Key findings revealed that states in the Pacific Northwest took the four top spots on the list.
Shorter days and frequent cloud cover contributes to the darkness in this region during the winter months, the according to the study.
Lake-effect cloud cover also has a significant impact. Five of the list’s 10 cities are located downwind from one of the Great Lakes.
“In the late fall, as you get into October and November and into early winter into December, the temperature of the lake is still relatively warm compared to what’s going on with the air temperatures, and land is cooling off much faster,” said AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek.
"So, you have a source of heat and moisture out there with the lakes taking their time, slowly cooling down,” Dombek added.
These factors contribute to the development of lake-effect clouds and precipitation, which arrives in the form of snow in cold-enough conditions, Dombek said.
Below are the 10 most depressing cities to spend a winter season, according to SmartAsset’s study.
The SmartAsset study also highlighted 10 cites considered to be the least depressing, or sunniest, winter cities.
Locations that made the list include Key West and Miami, Florida; Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona; and Las Vegas, Nevada.
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