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300 days of sunshine?

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A Wednesday story about some of the odd weather we experienced in 2012 earned a comment from one reader wondering if the National Weather Service keeps stats on total days of sunshine. Like The Worm, this reader has heard the oft-repeated boast that North Central Washington gets 300 days of sunshine — perhaps a ploy to attract Western Washingtonians across the mountains, perhaps not. In any case, the reader commented that for the past few years, it doesn't seem like we've met our quota of sunny days. The Worm decided to pose the question to the National Weather Service, which directed her to a website from the Office of Washington State Climatologist. That website, climate.washington.edu/cloudcover shows some interesting data, with charts from across the state showing the number of clear days, the number of partly cloudy days, and the number of cloudy days. The charts are averages from 1973 through 2000. Well, according to this data, if you add all the days of sunny weather and all the days of partly cloudy weather during those years, Wenatchee already falls far short of the 300 days expectation. More like 235.7 days of sunshine every year. Stats from the Omak airport, however, hit the mark, with 299.9 days of sunshine, on average. But that was only looking at the years 1998 through 2000, so perhaps that's not a large enough sample. In any case, The Worm called the state climatology office and talked to assistant state climatologist Karin Bumbaco. She said she's not sure where the 300 days of sunshine number comes from, but it's probably a good observation that North Central Washington hasn't been as sunny in recent years. "The last three springs have been very slow to get to summer," she noted. As for updating the information, Bumbaco said that would take some work, but they may put it on their wish list.

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