Cloudiest American Cities in Winter

Days of Heavy Cloud

The cloudiest cities in the United States — Portland, Seattle and Buffalo — are blanketed with heavy cloud during three out of four winter days. Overcast skies particularly dominate during winter in the Pacific Northwest and near the Great Lakes.

A total of 16 major US cities get 50 or more days of dense cloud during the months of December, January and February. These are grey winter days when more than three-quarters of the sky is covered in cloud.

The major cities included in the weather rankings represent the metropolitan areas in the United States with over one million people in 2010. Cloud cover information is not available from the National Climatic Data Center for San Jose and Riverside California, so they were left out of the cloudiest city ratings.

Major US Cities averaging 50 or more days during winter when cloud covers over three-quarters of the sky.
City Winter Days of Heavy Cloud % of Days
Portland, Oregon 71 79
Seattle, Washington 70 78
Buffalo, New York 68 76
Cleveland, Ohio 68 76
Rochester, New York 64 71
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 64 71
Columbus, Ohio 60 67
Detroit, Michigan 59 66
Cincinnati, Ohio 57 63
Indianapolis, Indiana 55 61
Louisville, Kentucky 55 61
Chicago, Illinois 53 59
Salt Lake City, Utah 53 59
Houston, Texas 52 58
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 52 58
Nashville, Tennessee 50 56

All Cloudy Days

When the count of cloudy days includes partial cloud as well as heavy overcast, the cloudiest cities in winter typically have some overcast on nine out of ten winter days.

Major US cities with at least three out of four winter days, on average, when over one-quarter of the sky is covered with cloud.
City Cloudy Days in Winter % of Days
Buffalo, New York 86 96
Rochester, New York 84 93
Cleveland, Ohio 84 93
Portland, Oregon 82 91
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 82 91
Seattle, Washington 82 91
Detroit, Michigan 79 88
Columbus, Ohio 78 87
Cincinnati, Ohio 75 83
Indianapolis, Indiana 73 81
Louisville, Kentucky 73 81
Salt Lake City, Utah 72 80
Chicago, Illinois 71 79
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 70 78

Partial Cloudy Weather

The major US cities that most often get partially cloudy days during winter are not among the country's cloudiest cities overall. These cities have relatively few winter days when cloud obscures over three-quarters of the sky.

Partially cloudy days are those when cloud covers between one-quarter and three-quarters of the sky.

California's coastal cities dominate the list of major American cities that most often have partially cloudy days in winter. The heavy cloud that blankets western Oregon and Washington during much of winter breaks up along the Californian coast. Scattered cloud also frequents Florida in winter.

Major US cities that average over one in four days during winter when cloud covers between one-quarter and three-quarters of the sky.
City Partially Cloudy Days % of Days
Miami, Florida 38 42
Tampa, Florida 29 32
Denver, Colorado 28 31
Orlando, Florida 28 31
New York, New York 27 30
San Diego, California 23 26
San Francisco, California 23 26
Hartford, Connecticut 23 26
Jacksonville, Florida 23 26
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 23 26
Reference

NOAA National Climatic Data Center. Comparative Climatic Data Publication.

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