Weather can define a region and its identity. For example, cities like Astoria, OR, spend two-thirds of the year under a blanket of clouds, whereas desert cities such as Phoenix, AZ, generally see clear skies year-round.
When deciding where to live, weather and climate are an important consideration. Perhaps you like warmer, sunnier weather, or maybe you like it rainy – knowing which type of weather you thrive in when choosing a city to live in is important. So, if you’re planning to move somewhere new, read on to discover the cloudiest cities in the U.S. and see if they’re right for you.
What is cloudy weather?
Before we dive into the cloudiest cities, let’s define what cloudy weather actually means. Cloudiness is divided up into four categories: mostly clear (or sunny if during daytime hours), partly cloudy/sunny, mostly cloudy, and cloudy/overcast.
- Mostly clear: 1/8th of the sky is covered by clouds
- Partly cloudy: 3/8-5/8ths of the sky is covered by clouds
- Mostly cloudy: 6/8-7/8ths of the sky is covered by clouds
- Cloudy: 7/8ths or more of the sky is covered by clouds
This list of cities focuses on the last category, cloudy. Keep reading to see our ranking of the cloudiest cities based on their annual number of cloudy days.
What are the cloudiest cities in the U.S.?
1. Anchorage, Alaska
239 cloudy days per year
The northernmost city in the U.S. with over 100,000 residents is also the cloudiest city in the U.S. Anchorage, AK, spends over 65% of the year under dense cloud-cover, mostly because of large-scale atmospheric rivers and proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Surprisingly, the city sees more cloud cover during the summer months. Anchorage is home to an abundance of wild and dramatic landscapes, many of which are within a short drive. If you’re planning on moving to Anchorage, be sure to take advantage of the long summer daylight and great northern lights viewing.
If you’re considering buying a home in Anchorage, you’ll find that the median home sale price is about $385,000, which is just below the national average. Or, if you’re considering renting an apartment, expect the average monthly rent price for a two-bedroom apartment to be around $1,250.
Learn more about living in Anchorage.
2. Seattle, Washington
226 cloudy days per year
The poster city for the pacific northwest, Seattle, WA, is a lively, outdoorsy, fast-growing city set on the Puget Sound between the Cascade and Olympic mountains. “Mt Baker in Washington near Seattle has more than its fair share of clouds,” says David Clarke of Holiday Home Lets, a vacation home rental company.
The Seattle area receives fairly consistent rainfall and cloud cover for a majority of the year, which is often a point of pride by locals. With the iconic Mount Rainier (Tahoma) as a backdrop, this city is famous for its recreational activities and tech-focused culture. Popular tourist attractions include Pike Place Market, the Amazon Spheres, the Space Needle, and the Seattle Great Wheel.
“The natural beauty of the Seattle area makes the gloomy climate worth it,” says Jessica Schmit, Owner of Uprooted Traveler. “Make sure to go on lots of hikes to explore the incredible mountains, alpine lakes, and pine tree forests that surround the Puget Sound.”
If you’re thinking about buying a home in Seattle, you’ll find that the median home sale price is about $875,000, which is over twice the national average. If you’re considering renting an apartment, expect the monthly rent price for a two-bedroom apartment to be around $3,570.
Learn more about living in Seattle.
3. Portland, Oregon
222 cloudy days per year
Portland, OR, is a famously-quirky city that spends a lot of time underneath a layer of clouds; many locals prefer it this way. The city is home to numerous niche restaurants, boutique shops, and local breweries, all of which are easily accessible by public transportation. Outdoor enthusiasts love Forest Park, the largest urban forest in the country. The city is also close to the Columbia Gorge and the beautiful Oregon coastline, both popular tourist destinations.
If you’re thinking about buying a home in Portland, you’ll find that the median home sale price is about $570,000, which is above the national average. If you’re considering renting an apartment, the monthly rent price for a two-bedroom apartment averages around $1,900.
Learn more about living in Portland.
4. Eugene, Oregon
209 cloudy days per year
The birthplace of Nike, Eugene, OR, is a cloudy outdoorsy haven. Known as TrackTown USA, the area hosts Olympic trials and large football games at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field. Eugene is perfect if you’re looking to move to a mid-sized city with a small-town feel, and is a great place to visit for a vacation. Because of its great location near the Willamette and McKenzie rivers, home prices are slightly above the national average.
Buying a home in Eugene will cost an average of $502,500, which is above the national average. If you’re thinking of renting an apartment, the monthly rent price for a two-bedroom apartment averages $1,935.
Learn more about living in Eugene.
5. Buffalo, New York
208 cloudy days per year
Famous for its snowy winters and lively sports scene, Buffalo, NY, is the fifth-cloudiest large city in the country. It’s close to Niagara Falls and only a short trip from the Big Apple, making it a great spot to move to. The city is also famous for its social activism and progressive arts scene.
If you’re thinking about buying a home in Buffalo, you’ll find that the median home sale price is about $243,500, which is well below the national average. If you’re considering renting an apartment, expect the monthly rent price for a two-bedroom apartment to be around $1,600.
Learn more about living in Buffalo.
6. Salem, Oregon
208 cloudy days per year
Located in the heart of the idyllic Willamette Valley, Salem, OR, is a small college city that doubles as the state capitol. The ocean to the west and mountains to the east provide fairly cool and cloudy weather throughout the year, although summer provides warm and sunny days. The area features dozens of wineries and vineyards and is popular with wine connoisseurs looking for local tastings. The capitol building is an attraction in itself and features art from local artists.
If you’re thinking about buying a home in Salem, you’ll find that the median home sale price is about $437,000, which is near the national average. If you’re considering renting an apartment, the monthly rent price for a two-bedroom apartment averages around $1,500.
Learn more about living in Salem.
7. Grand Rapids, Michigan
205 cloudy days per year
Grand Rapids, MI, is a booming, beautiful city with famous food and craft beverage attractions. Known as America’s Best Beer City, it’s situated near Lake Michigan and only a short day-trip away from Detroit. The city receives significant snowfall during the winter, similar to other cities near the Great Lakes.
If moving to Grand Rapids sounds appealing, you’ll find the median home sale price to be $275,000, well below the national average. If you’re looking to rent an apartment, the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment is $1,505.
Learn more about living in Grand Rapids.
8. Syracuse, New York
205 cloudy days per year
Nestled between Lake Ontario, Lake Onondaga, and Oneida Lake, Syracuse, NY, is a big city that offers a distinct small-town feel. The city receives a lot of cloud cover due to its proximity to the Great Lakes, but is an outdoor haven nonetheless. The Great New York State Fair is a popular annual attraction in the summer, while snowy winters and great music highlight the winter months.
Buying a home in Syracuse will cost an average of $165,000, which is over $200,000 below the national average. If you’re thinking of renting an apartment, the monthly rent price for a two-bedroom apartment averages $1,385.
9. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
203 cloudy days per year
Pittsburgh, PA, has similar weather patterns to other cities near Lake Erie and Lake Ontario; much of the region’s cloudy weather comes in the fall and winter. Living in Pittsburgh has its perks, notably its strong industrial roots and small-town feel.
If you’re thinking about buying a home in Pittsburgh, you’ll find that the median home sale price is about $257,500, which is below the national average. If you’re considering renting an apartment, expect the monthly rent price for a two-bedroom apartment to be around $2,015.
Learn more about living in Pittsburgh.
10. Cleveland, Ohio
202 cloudy days per year
Rounding out the list of cloudiest cities in the U.S. is Cleveland, OH. Similar to Pittsburgh, most cloudy days occur during the winter months because of weather patterns over Lake Erie and surrounding areas. If you’re living in Cleveland or considering moving, there are multiple attractions that may draw your attention. These include numerous sports teams, large parks, below-average house prices, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
If you’re considering buying a home in Cleveland, you’ll find that the median home sale price is about $128,562, which is under half the national average. Or, if you’re considering renting an apartment, expect the average monthly rent price for a two-bedroom apartment to be around $2,065.
Learn more about living in Cleveland.
Other notable cloudy cities and towns
Cold Bay, Alaska
304 cloudy days per year
If you love cloudy weather, this small town is for you. With a population of just 50 in 2021, this Aleutian town sees complete cloud cover for more than 75% of the year. Cold Bay was home to an air base during WWII, much of which is still standing. The region is filled with gigantic parks and wildlife preserves that are perfect for recreation and adventure.
Mount Washington, New Hampshire
244 cloudy days per year
Mount Washington is a perfect day trip destination. The area is known for its erratic, windy, and unpredictable weather, holding the record for the fastest wind speed in the northern and western hemispheres at 231 mph. The area sees ample precipitation as well, meaning many days are primarily cloudy. Recreation and tourism are popular on this east coast mountain, particularly in the summer months due to the better weather.
Learn more about living in Concord and surrounding areas.
197 cloudy days per year
Hilo, HI, receives almost twice the amount of annual rainfall than anywhere else in the U.S., getting rain almost every day. As such, it’s cloudy for more than half the year. “Hawaii might be known for its beautiful scenery and sunny beaches, but Hilo, Hawaii, is one of the cloudiest cities in the U.S.,” says Tony McGee, Meteorologist with WeatherFlow. “Of course, clouds alone don’t have to spoil outdoor plans, and many of the cloudiest states are famous for their outdoor recreation options,” he says. “When rain does settle in, take advantage of the opportunity to build a pillow fort with the kids, catch up on your favorite shows, or tackle that indoor home project you’ve been putting off.”
~162 cloudy days per year
While Gatlinburg, TN, isn’t an especially cloudy city, it is notoriously damp and foggy. Notably, it’s surrounded by the gorgeous Great Smoky Mountains National Park. “The higher elevation mountaintops are often completely submerged in low-hanging clouds, which offers some stunning beauty,” says Brittany Mendez from Hiking in the Smokies, a hiking and touring company in the Smoky Mountains area. “If the weather gets you down,” she says, “there are activities that you can do indoors to keep you active and happy during the gloomy weather.”
Escape the gloom with this expert advice
Cloudy weather can be sad to be around. If it’s getting in your way, shift your routine or escape for a weekend getaway. Here are some other expert tips for how to beat the gloom.
Don’t take clouds for granted
Clouds offer protection from the sun and can make outdoor activities enjoyable in the hot summer months, so don’t take them for granted. Tracking solar radiation and UV index data can help you predict how long the cloud cover will last so that you can make the most of your day. – Ambient Weather
Conquer clouds with a positive mindset
Staying happy and healthy is all about mindset – learn to embrace it and don’t let the weather cloud your wellness goals. Channel your inner child and head outside rain or shine. If you’re more keen on staying dry, think about opening a window or going outside to a covered location to get movement in. – Kara Ehrhardt, Director of Wellness at Active Wellness, a leading fitness management company.
Take exercise indoors
When the weather gets gloomy, take exercise indoors. Anything you can do on a gloomy day to keep you moving helps to keep you active. On a weekend, consider a living room dance party or try deep cleaning something around the house. – Allison Zang
Try a hot yoga or barre class
Scranton has lots of cold and cloudy winter days. Our remedy is to heat up all of our yoga and barre classes to help our clients stay warm, limber, and upbeat during dark, cloudy days. Try to stay socially active during the gloom as well; this can help you build community and improve your mood. – Lara Alexiou from Steamtown Hot Yoga & Barre
This list contains annual cloud cover data for major cities with over 100,000 residents according to the 2020 census. Comparative Climatic Data was obtained from a 2018 study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which was only measured during daylight hours.