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Sunniest cities in America

  • Sunniest cities in America

    Five U.S. cities—three of which were in Arizona—in 2014 made the world’s sunniest cities list: El Paso, Tucson, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Yuma. Phoenix and Yuma took the top two spots, making them the sunniest cities in the entire world for that year according to data compiled by the World Meteorological Organization. All five cities still top the list, ranging from 84 percent to 90 percent sunshine throughout the year. But the ever-present sun, which can be oppressive combined with high heat and/or humidity, doesn’t stop locals from going outside. In fact, it often encourages them to hit a local lake or river, hop on a bike trail, or explore the surrounding desert.

    For decades, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been tracking how much possible sunshine cities across the United States will get throughout the year. Stacker wanted to know where each major city landed on the scale. By compiling NOAA data, we explored the sunshine prospects of 174 U.S. cities and territories, ranking them by the annual average percentage of possible sunshine—or the total time sunshine hits Earth, expressed as the percentage of the potential maximum amount of sunshine from sunrise to sunset. Each city’s data was based on the number of years NOAA has been tracking sunshine levels—as few as seven and as many as 112 years. The data was last updated in 2004, offering a wide case study by which to gauge which American cities are the sunniest.

    Here are the top cities, plus some suggestions on how to take advantage of the rays, beat the heat, and make the most of your time in the sunniest places in the country. Is your hometown listed? Check below to find out where it ranks.

  • #47. Boise, ID (tie)

    Annual average percentage of possible sunshine: 64%
    Years of data collected: 60

    Boise is known for its small-town feel and mild weather—except for the last two weeks of summer when it can be brutally hot. In the summer, Idaho's capital is perfect for hitting biking and hiking trails, plus mountain climbing, and kayaking in nearby rivers.

  • #47. Pocatello, ID (tie)

    Annual average percentage of possible sunshine: 64%
    Years of data collected: 53

    If you ever played "The Oregon Trail," you definitely passed through Pocatello. The city is considered the Gateway to the Northwest. The summers are dry and hot, so hit the nearby Snake River for some aquatic recreation and heat relief when the sun is out.

  • #47. Shreveport, LA (tie)

    Annual average percentage of possible sunshine: 64%
    Years of data collected: 50

    Shreveport is a gambler's paradise, thanks to an ample supply of flashy riverboat casinos. And they're a good place to be during summer days which are sunny, hot, and muggy, with temperatures that often reach into the 90s.

  • #47. Columbia, SC (tie)

    Annual average percentage of possible sunshine: 64%
    Years of data collected: 46

    Columbia is known as Soda City, thanks to an old shorthand term for the city: Cola. The summers are humid and the sun can be oppressive. When the season is at its peak, hit the water at Lake Murray Beach, the Saluda River, or the Cayce Riverwalk.

  • #47. Memphis, TN (tie)

    Annual average percentage of possible sunshine: 64%
    Years of data collected: 35

    Elvis fans know Memphis as the home of Graceland, the late musician's estate. Humid summer days with the occasional extreme heat make sunny days perfect for local unusually flavored sno-cones, stand-up paddle boarding, or biking throughout the city.

  • #47. Tupelo, MS (tie)

    Annual average percentage of possible sunshine: 64%
    Years of data collected: 13

    If you've already been to Graceland, check out Tupelo for Elvis' birthplace museum. As with most cities in the Southeast, the summers are long, hot, and muggy. When the sun is out, hit the Tupelo Aquatic Center or let the dogs tire themselves out at Tupelo Bark Park.

  • #45. Wichita, KS (tie)

    Annual average percentage of possible sunshine: 65%
    Years of data collected: 49

    If you love Pizza Hut and White Castle, then you know Wichita is the place to be—it's the hometown for both chains. Summers in the Kansas town are generally clear and sunny, but also hot and a bit humid. Many people spend those sunny days taking part in watersports on Sand Creek or enjoying an outdoor festival.

  • #45. Valentine, NE (tie)

    Annual average percentage of possible sunshine: 65%
    Years of data collected: 29

    Just east of Valentine is the highest waterfall in Nebraska, Smith Falls. Because of that, sunny summer days are generally spent canoeing, tubing, or fishing on the waters of Niobrara River. Most of summer is hot and clear, with temperatures rarely getting past 90.

  • #39. Salt Lake City, UT (tie)

    Annual average percentage of possible sunshine: 66%
    Years of data collected: 64

    Salt Lake City is best known for its Mormon heritage, although Mormons now make up less than half the population. Summer temperatures routinely top 100, but because the humidity is low, it is generally tolerable. Spend a sunny day, which is mostly all of them, enjoying your bike, hiking trails that start downtown, or rock climbing.

  • #39. Cheyenne, WY (tie)

    Annual average percentage of possible sunshine: 66%
    Years of data collected: 63

    Cheyenne's biggest draw is its annual Frontier Days each summer, the world's largest outdoor rodeo. Because summer days are generally sunny and clear with tolerable temperatures, many people take advantage of outdoor activities such as horseback riding, strolling the historic downtown, or exploring nature in Curt Gowdy State Park.

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