The beginning of January 2021 has been a cloudy start to the New Year.
Even though the lack of sunshine isn’t fun to deal with, there can be some perks to a cloudy day. Clouds at night can help to keep our temperatures warmer in the morning, acting like a blanket. However, during the day they can prevent us from warming up.
According to the National Climatic Data Center, the past 52 years of cloud data, up to 2012, shows Dayton sees about 188 days that are classified as “cloudy.” Cloudy means 8/10 to 10/10 of the sky is covered in clouds.
On average, December and January are the two months where Dayton sees the most cloudy days. The months with the least cloudy days come in the summer, July and August.
If the winter seems gray to you, that is because we see more cloudy days. There are a few factors why the winter can go through gray stretches.
First, in the summertime, the sun angle warms the ground keeping the surface layer warmer than the air aloft. This provides some instability and the types of clouds we usually see bubble up into columns, typically cumulus clouds.
In the winter, the sun angle is lower and we end up with a colder surface layer and warmer air aloft. That warm layer is stable. As clouds form, they are blocked by this stable layer and can spread out like a gray blanket across the sky.
The types of clouds in the winter typically are more stratus clouds. A few other factors include an active storm track and the fact that the colder temperatures make it easier for the air to become saturated which allows for more cloud formation.
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