As December ushers in snowy days and fewer daylight hours, I find I am grateful for every minute of sunshine I can get. Even ten minutes outside in the sun can renew my energy for the remainder of the day. I grew up in the Midwest where winters often consist of many grey snowy days and very few opportunities to enjoy the sun. As a result, I find winters in Colorado much brighter and happier.
As the days got shorter and shorter before the winter solstice, I found myself wondering which areas in the U.S. receive the most sunshine each year. I found some historical sunshine and cloud data online consisting of the total hours of sunshine each month at over 250 monitoring locations in the U.S collected between 1908 and 1992. I used this data to calculate the average number of sunny days per year at each location and then plotted the results as a gradient map in MapViewer 8 GIS software.
MapViewer 8: Gradient map of the average total days of sunshine per year in the U.S
As we can see, the central and southern states receive the most sunshine. While that’s not surprising, I was a little shocked that several states in north central United States receive as much sunshine as Florida and Texas. If you love the sun this map shows you where to go to get your fill.