Dear Tom,
I have been to Phoenix, Arizona, where it is usually sunny and I’ve been to Miami, Florida, where it is usually partly cloudy, yet Florida bills itself as “the Sunshine State.” I think this is wrong.
—Jason Avongarotti


Dear Jason,
You are correct that Phoenix is sunnier than Miami—on average, considerably sunnier. Desert areas like Phoenix are dominated by continental tropical air during the warm season, which is characteristi- cally hot, dry, and relatively cloud free. Miami is dominated by maritime tropical air, typically very warm and moist with a good deal more cloudiness. On average, Phoenix registers 85 percent of possible sunshine and Miami 70 percent. Phoenix averages 211 days per year with clear skies (defined as less than 30% of cloud cover), but Miami records only 74 such days. A more accurate but less appeal- ing motto for Florida would be “The Partly Cloudy State.”