Kelly Norton

They're all in California, according to this NOAA-informed map.

"Nice" weather is extremely subjective. Who's to say that basking under the Florida Keys's sun-washed skies is any less sublime than crunching through fresh snow in Bangor, Maine?

Well, software engineer Kelly Norton might politely disagree. Norton spent his January flying to and from New York, and was mightily bummed at the weather whenever he got off his plane. "Whichever way I went, bitter cold greeted me at the end of the jet way and often with a coating of slick ice," he writes on his website. "It’s hard not to dwell on anomalous and unpleasant weather. It got me wondering, though, where in the U.S. do you go if you want the most 'pleasant' days in a year?"

To answer that question, Norton designed a map of where in America you're most likely to experience days of "pleasant" weather. Being from Atlanta, the engineer defined pleasant using rather Southern parameters: The mean temperature must be between 75 and 55 degrees, and the day's minimum can't drop below 45 nor the max exceed 85. Using that criteria and a mother lode of meteorological data from NOAA, he was able to elicit what are allegedly the country's most fair-weather burgs. Not surprisingly, they are all in California:

1. Los Angeles (an average of 183 "pleasant" days per year)
2. San Diego (182)
3. Oxnard (166)
4. Simi Valley (156)
5. San Francisco (153)

As someone who's lived in San Francisco, I would take serious issue with calling the city's weather "pleasant." Due to ever-shifting fog and sun-obscuring clouds and ocean wind that can be like a litter-spewing jet engine to the face, you need to carry around an arsenal of layers to don or shed at any given moment. I expect people around the nation looking at Norton's analysis would take issue with some other designations, as well. Like his list of the five "least pleasant places":

1. McAllister, Montana (14 days)
2. Northeast of Reno, Nevada (15)
3. Clancy, Montana (15)
4. Douglas, Wyoming (15)
5. East of Cedarville, California (16)

In Norton's estimation, there is a vast zone of unpleasant weather hovering above the American West. He seems to be expecting residents of least-pleasant Montana to carp about his low tolerance for the cold: "I’m sure, though, they would shake their frost-bitten fingers at me and remind me that not everyone can take the overwhelming heat of 55° F." But I believe he's onto something, given McAllister's butt-chapping forecast from Wednesday:

You can get detailed readings for how "pleasantness" changes month to month by scrolling over the interactive map. People of the Northeast, take heart: While your variously plowed streets might be choked with snow right now, it's only 207 days until September!

Map images by Kelly Norton

About the Author

John Metcalfe
John Metcalfe

John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.

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