Cloudiest Cities in the US: Top 10 Overcast Urban Areas

June 26, 2024

The soft patter of raindrops against the window, the gentle gray veil that cloaks the city in an ethereal shroud – there's something undeniably mystical about a cloudy day. As the world outside is bathed in subdued hues, a sense of calm settles in, making us pause and appreciate the beauty of overcast skies. And if you're someone who finds solace in the quiet embrace of clouds, you'll be delighted to discover the top 10 cloudiest cities in the US. Join me on a journey through these enigmatic urban oases, where the sky is a canvas of ever-changing patterns and the sun takes a backseat to the allure of mist and fog. Let's uncover the magic of these overcast marvels together.
If you love sunny days, these U.S. cities might make you feel gloomy. We've compiled a list of the top 10 cloudiest cities in the United States, based on the number of days they experience heavy overcast. This ranking is grounded in climate data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). From the breathtaking yet mostly cloudy cityscapes of the Pacific Northwest to the overshadowed skies of the Great Lakes region, here are the cities where the sun struggles to break through the clouds.

1. Seattle

Seattle, located in the Pacific Northwest, is known for its iconic skyline and stunning waterfront views. However, it's also famous for its cloudy weather. Seattle experiences over 180 days of solid overcast annually. Despite the frequent grey skies, Seattle remains a vibrant tech hub with a rich arts scene.

Seattle skyline
Seattle: A city of clouds and innovation.

2. Portland

Not far from Seattle, Portland also boasts over 180 days of overcast weather each year. Nestled in the Willamette Valley, Portland is a city that embraces its cloudy reputation with a thriving coffee culture and lush green landscapes. The city's abundant rainfall contributes to its beautiful parks and gardens.

Portland sign
Portland: Where coffee and clouds meet.

3. Buffalo

Buffalo, situated near the Great Lakes, experiences over 150 days of heavy overcast annually. Interestingly, Buffalo also has the highest number of days with partial cloud cover, surpassing even Seattle and Portland. The cloud cover, combined with cold winters, makes Buffalo one of the cloudiest cities in the U.S.

Buffalo and a feathered friend
Buffalo: High in cloud cover and community spirit.

4. Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids, Michigan, rounds out our list with over 160 days of overcast skies each year. Located near Lake Michigan, the city is subject to the influences of lake-effect weather, contributing to its frequent cloud cover. Despite this, Grand Rapids is known for its vibrant art scene and craft beer industry.

Grand Rapids bridge
Grand Rapids: Art, beer, and clouds in abundance.

5. Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is no stranger to cloudy weather. With over 160 days of heavy overcast each year, this city in the Great Lakes region is often shrouded in clouds. Pittsburgh’s history as an industrial hub is matched by its contemporary reputation for education and technology innovations.

Pittsburgh by night
Pittsburgh: Cloudy skies over a city of progress.

6. Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio, experiences over 170 days of heavy cloud cover annually. Located on the southern shore of Lake Erie, Cleveland's weather is often influenced by the lake, leading to frequent clouds and overcast days. The city is renowned for its cultural institutions, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Cleveland skyline
Cleveland: A city with clouds and culture.

7. Rochester

Rochester, New York, is another city impacted by the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Ontario. It sees over 150 days of overcast skies per year. Known for its regional cuisine and vibrant festivals, Rochester embraces its cloud cover with a lively community spirit.

Rochester building
Rochester: Clouds and celebrations.

8. Columbus

Ohio’s capital, Columbus, experiences over 160 days of overcast weather each year. While the cloud cover may be frequent, it hasn't stopped Columbus from becoming a bustling center for education, business, and culture.

Detroit aerial
Columbus: The cloud-covered heart of Ohio.

9. Cincinnati

Cincinnati also makes the list with over 150 days of cloudy skies each year. This Ohio city is known for its historic architecture, professional sports teams, and dynamic arts scene. Though it shares its frequent clouds with other Great Lakes cities, Cincinnati shines in its unique charm.

Cincinnati Roebling bridge
Cincinnati: Cloudy days and colorful culture.

10. Detroit

Detroit, Michigan, rounds off our list with over 160 days of heavy overcast each year. Known as the birthplace of the American automotive industry, Detroit has a rich history of innovation and culture. Despite its frequent cloudy weather, Detroit continues to thrive as a major metropolis.

Detroit aerial view
Detroit: The Motor City under shaded skies.

Cloudiest Cities in the United States

City Region Heavy Overcast Days (Per Year) Partial Cloud Cover Days (Per Year)
Seattle West Coast 180+ ---
Portland West Coast 180+ ---
Buffalo Great Lakes 150+ 210+
Grand Rapids Great Lakes 160+ ---
Pittsburgh Great Lakes 160+ ---
Cleveland Great Lakes 170+ ---
Rochester Great Lakes 150+ ---
Columbus Great Lakes 160+ ---
Cincinnati Great Lakes 150+ ---
Detroit Great Lakes 160+ ---

As we wrap up our list of the cloudiest cities in the US, it's clear that cloudy skies can't dull the vibrancy and spirit of these urban areas. Whether it's the cozy coffee shops of Seattle, the artistic flair of Portland, or the resilient community of Detroit, each city has its own unique charm that shines through, even on the cloudiest days. So, the next time you find yourself under gray skies, remember that there's always a silver lining waiting to break through. Embrace the clouds, but never forget to look for the sunshine within.

FAQs About Cloudiest Cities in the United States

What city is the most cloudy in the US?

The title of the cloudiest city in the United States is often attributed to Seattle, Washington, which experiences over 180 days of solid overcast each year.

Why do cities like Seattle and Portland experience so much cloud cover?

Cities like Seattle and Portland are located in regions prone to moist oceanic air, which leads to prolonged cloud cover. The proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the presence of nearby mountains also contribute to the persistent cloudiness.

How does cloud cover impact the lifestyle in these cities?

Cloud cover can affect residents' mood and activity levels. However, cities like Seattle and Portland have well-adapted to their gloomy weather by fostering vibrant indoor cultures, including coffee shops, breweries, and rich arts scenes.

Are there any benefits to living in cities with high cloud cover?

Yes, there are several benefits. Consistent cloud cover can lead to milder temperatures, decreased risk of sunburn, and lush, green environments due to frequent precipitation. Many cloudy cities also offer unique cultural and recreational activities.

Which city experiences the most partial cloud cover?

Buffalo, New York sees around 210 days of partial cloud cover each year, making it one of the cloudiest cities in the United States when considering both partial and heavy overcast days.

Other Related FAQs

What are some of the cloudiest cities in the world?

Some of the cloudiest cities in the world include Torshavn in the Faroe Islands, Yakutsk in Russia, and Reykjavik in Iceland. These cities are known for their long periods of overcast skies throughout the year.

JJ Sterling
As the co-founder of Urban Splatter and an architecture graduate from Chicago, I thrive on crafting a digital nexus where architectural innovation intersects with boundless digital opportunity. My academic roots in the Windy City's rich architectural tapestry inspire a unique vision for Urban Splatter's journey into the ever-evolving digital frontier of design. Join us as we navigate the exciting confluence of structure, style, and technology.

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