Gloomiest Places in America - New Study Reveals Pacific NW #1

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As we near the winter months, some areas of the country are affected by the changing seasons more than others. We’ve determined the Gloomiest Places in America, and the Pacific Northwest won’t be happy about it. The data team at BestPlaces.net determined each area’s Gloom Score by looking at three key environmental factors.

Gloomiest Places in America

With a high Percentage of Cloud Cover, low Average Hours of Daylight, and many Days with Precipitation - Seattle and Portland are officially the Gloomiest Places in America.

As we near the winter months, some areas of the country are affected by the changing seasons more than others. We’ve determined the Gloomiest Places in America, and the Pacific Northwest won’t be happy about it.

Topping our list at #1 and #2 are Seattle and Portland - both famous for their coffee shops and the 90’s “grunge” music genre that reflects this oft-oppressive feeling of Gloom.

Of the 50 largest metro areas, the top 10 Gloomiest Places are:

1. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
2. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
3. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY
4. Cleveland-Elyria, OH
5. Pittsburgh, PA
6. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
7. Columbus, OH
8. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI
9. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI
10. Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH

The data team at BestPlaces.net determined each metro area’s Gloom Score by looking at three key environmental factors for the months of November, December, and January:

  • Percentage of Cloud Cover
  • Average Hours of Daylight
  • Days with Precipitation

Also in the top 10 - Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and upstate New York can be bitterly cold and cloudy in the winter. As such, the list of Gloomy Places doesn’t hold too many surprises.

Alaska might come to mind as a gloomy place, and indeed country’s gloomiest counties are in that state. But those parts of Alaska (e.g. Juneau and Ketchikan) weren’t included in this study because they’re not in the 50 largest metro areas. Furthermore, some smaller metro areas like Fairbanks actually have less cloud cover in these months than one might expect.

The Danish concept of “Hygge” means making the most of these times of year by being cozy and partaking in activities that elevate mood - such as reading books, lighting candles, and playing board games with friends and family. For more on “Hygge” read our list of Top Hygge Cities.

If you live in a Gloomy Place you may be at risk for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), symptoms of which include feeling down, having low energy, and disruption of your sleep patterns. Although the specific cause of SAD remains unknown, reduced levels of sunlight can disrupt your circadian rhythms, reduce serotonin, and affect melatonin levels.

Therefore, it’s important to take active steps to counteract these tendencies. Exercise, healthy eating, light therapy, and regular social interaction are some of the basics. It’s normal to have “down” days, but if you have extended periods like this you should see your doctor.

Looking at the full ranking before, it’s not surprising to see famously bright places like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles coming up as the Least Gloomy Places. Oklahoma City and New Orleans are a bit unexpected, but maybe now they’ll find their way onto people’s lists when it’s time to beat the winter blues.

Click here for the full ranking of Top 50 Gloomiest Places in America.

About BestPlaces
With over 3 million monthly users, BestPlaces (http://www.bestplaces.net) is the nation's premier source for finding your best place to live. Founded by author and researcher Bert Sperling over thirty years ago, BestPlaces helps users make informed decisions about where to live, work, and retire. Bert's bestselling books "Cities Ranked and Rated" and "Best Places to Raise Your Family" are published by John Wiley & Sons and he was tagged as the "The Guy Who Picks the Best Places" by the New York Times. BestPlaces is responsible for more "Best Places" studies and research than any other single organization.

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Bertrand Sperling
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