Which state is sunnier: Florida or Arizona?

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Dear Tom,
According to its motto, Florida is the “Sunshine State.” I question that. I’ve been to Arizona as well as to Florida and it seems as if the Southwest, Arizona especially, is sunnier. What is your feeling?


Kilper Johnston

Dear Kilper,
Your suspicion is correct. Florida is less sunny, on average, than the Southwest. However, Florida is a flat state and the amount of cloudiness tends to be uniform. That is, the average amount of cloudiness is rather constant across the state, averaged over time. Arizona has great variations in terrain and elevation from one place to another and this affects the cloudiness. Desert areas are relatively cloud free, whereas mountainous and higher-altitude locations experience much more cloudiness. A more accurate but less appealing motto for Florida would be the “Partly Sunny State.” 

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