Thursday, August 23, 2012

Clear at dawn

Kw: weather, clouds, sky

We are far enough past the summer solstice that I sometimes get out before sunrise. Today I was out, under a half twilight, and at first saw a totally clear sky. I saw them frequently when I lived in the mountain west. I called certain days, "Couldn't find a cloud to save your life." I very rarely see such a day here.

As it happened, I was wrong. Once I got away from the house and could see the northeastern sky, there were perhaps a dozen small, scattered clouds. Oh, well.

A look at the tables at Weather Today gave me a little perspective. In this area there are nearly 100 sunny days yearly. I take that to mean with nearly no cloud cover, like this morning. We also get 41 inches (1.04 m) of precipitation in about 115 days. Interesting, I saw that Daytona Beach, FL gets 97 sunny days yearly, also has 115 rainy days yearly, but gets 48 inches of rain.

A few places are extreme in one way or another:
  • Cold Bay, AK has the fewest sunny days, 10, but not a lot of precipitation, 36 inches (0.91 m), yet there are 228 rainy days yearly. I guess most of them are actually drizzly days.
  • Hilo, HI has only 36 sunny days a year, but gets 129 inches (3.28 m) of rain in 278 rainy days. I've been told that the frequent, smallish rains are called "pineapple juice". They sure make the pineapples grow.
  • Yuma, AZ has 242 sunny days yearly, the most in the U.S. In just 17 days with measurable precipitation, it gets no more than 3 inches (0.08 m) of rain. Most of that comes as one or two gully-washers.
My father still lives in Portland, OR. He used to live near Los Angeles, CA. In Portland he sees 68 sunny days and 129 rainy ones. Rainfall totals 36 inches (0.91 m). He may move to San Diego, where my brother lives. There, he'd enjoy twice the sunny days (146) and only one third the rain (10 inches, or 0.25 m).

South Dakota is called the "northern sunshine state". It is not as sunny as Arizona, but Rapid City does get 111 sunny days and only 96 rainy ones. Most of the other 158 days have few clouds and they cover less than half the sky. It only gets overcast when it is going to rain or snow in earnest. I really remember those fine, fall mornings, with a deep blue sky from horizon to horizon. This morning's sky, though marred by those few small clouds, was nice and blue but quite pale by comparison. Deeper blues will come by October, but nothing here in the Philadelphia area can compare to a clear day in Big Sky country, which covers a lot more ground than just Montana.

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