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Why Cloudy Cities Are Good for Us

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Why Cloudy Cities Are Good for Us

By Jeff Opperman, The Nature Conservancy

Most people love blue skies and clearly prefer being drenched with sunshine rather than rain. The sunny regions of the country are booming as people move to where they know the calendar will be filled with blue-sky days.

But think a bit more about what a blue sky means. In other words, think about the absence of clouds.

If you know where your water comes from, you know towns and cities draw their water from rivers, lakes or groundwater. These sources are replenished by rain and snow, and we all know that rain and snow come from… clouds.

So clouds are like water-delivery trucks rolling into town. What does this say about places with clear, blue—and cloud-free—skies?

To better understand the relationship between clouds and water supply, I did a very quick analysis of some readily available numbers.

  • First, I looked at SustainLane’s ranking of the sustainability of major U.S. cities’ water supply systems. These rankings provide an indication of how reliable or, on the other hand, how stressed or vulnerable a city’s source of water is.
  • Second, for each city I looked at the average number of cloudy days per year, from the National Weather Service.

The result shows that the most water-sustainable cities are the most cloudy, and the least water-sustainable cities are those with the most sun. (See the graph on the next page; the most water-sustainable cities have low numbers and are on the left side of the graph.) This correlation will not shock anyone who remembers the hydrological cycle from high school.

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53 comments

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8:24AM PDT on Jun 19, 2014

..however, if too many cloudy rainy days people will move to the sunnier drier ones...... too many wet cloudy days this "spring and summer" in MN

11:10PM PDT on Mar 15, 2013

Thank you

4:18AM PDT on May 20, 2012

Good information - thank you.

I lived in a city where there were almost no clouds ever and I felt it affected my moods too, and not in a good way. We need clouds for many, many reasons it seems.

6:49PM PDT on Apr 22, 2012

Hmm, people living in dry cities should look up greywater systems. ^_^

2:58AM PST on Mar 9, 2012

Canada has an abundant supply of water, but people waste it - so there are water restrictions in summer. Where I live the infrastructure was cheaply built and the water usage is almost double that of any other areas as a result of all the wastage and leaking pipes. Many of the rivers have new power supply developments, so the natural flow is affected and the salmon runs are detrimentally affected. Water quality is not always up to par.

I was born in a sunny country and the main difference in people is that in sunny countries people have sunny personalities and seem to enjoy life a lot more. They also have greater respect for their resources, so do not waste water.

1:50AM PST on Mar 7, 2012

Interesting info...

7:59PM PST on Mar 5, 2012

but cities draw the rain to themselves, when you really want it to fall on the water catchment/agricultural land outside. Changing cities to CATCH and USE more of their own water, instead of just letting it go down the drain is a good idea!!

7:13PM PST on Mar 5, 2012

I understand the science behind the author's article and he makes some good points. But I also know that I prefer living in an area that gets much more sunshine than Northeast Ohio (Cleveland) does. And, fortunately water isn't an issue here in Minnesota-the land of 10,000 lakes.

3:36AM PST on Mar 4, 2012

I always think I don't like grey skies, but I miss them when I'm somewhere sunnier. I love the days here in England when the sky is a beautiful soft grey, and the sun shines through onto the green fields... it's wonderful.

11:15PM PST on Mar 3, 2012

I will stay where I am at.
I live in a varied seasonal area
I am lucky

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

I like Dr Greger's articles, but everything we eat in North America is polluted - not only fish.

Odd but cute. Thanks.

Good info. I may try it for a few months to see if there is any difference in a couple areas.

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