How to get more sunny days in Portland

It’s sunnier in California

I grew up in the Bay Area. We had a lot of sunny days, the kind where if you played outside and then went back inside, you couldn’t see anything for a while. I think that’s too much sun. It’s not as bad as the Philippines where you can watch yourself darken and burn in real time, but sunny enough where you should go find some shade.

Summers in Portland are awesome. They easily beat California summers. I think the air is cleaner here. The sunlight is brighter, less hot, and more pure. If you ever drive up to Portland from California in the summertime, you can see this dramatically. Right at the Oregon border, the sky gets bluer, the light brighter, the air more clean. I kid you not.

Winters in Portland are another matter.

Forecast: Partly cloudy

It’s funny watching the 5-day forecast here in the winter. Typically, you’ll see a series of weather graphics for each day that (when they aren’t just solid rain) are all different but only in subtle ways. One looks partly cloudy, one mostly cloudy, one somewhat cloudy, one cloudy with some sun, one slight sun with clouds. When faced with months and months of this, it can get a little depressing.

You just need to look on the bright side

I believe I have found a way to get more sunny days in Portland. We just have to have to change our definition of what constitutes a sunny day. You may be thinking, “Oh, I know, he’ll say that if you see a shadow, then it’s a sunny day”. Nope. That definition is actually too weak. Even on a cloudy day, you can still see shadows (in fact if you can see anything at all, there must be light that you can block to make a shadow). Here’s a better definition, totally consistent with the usual notion:

It’s a sunny day if you can identify the position of the sun

That’s it. Pretty straightforward, yes? Here are some examples from the past week:

Saturday: Sunny


Sunday: Sunny


Monday: Sunny


Tuesday: Sunny


Wednesday: Sunny


Thursday: Not Sunny


Friday: Sunny or Not sunny?

Why don’t you give this one a try? (Answer after picture).


If you guessed “sunny”, then I’m afraid you are incorrect. There is no sun in this picture.

See, by this definition, instead of no sunny days last week, we had 5! Not too bad for January… 🙂


About Rino Jose

Trying to find good ways to develop software.

3 responses to “How to get more sunny days in Portland”

  1. Rino Jose says :

    For the record, Portland has 222 cloudy days per year (measured in the conventional way).

  2. P says :

    Thanks for the pics I “might” be moving to Portland and I am a little worry about the “cloudy” days…so thanks for the pics!
    Now i do have a question, I don’t know what time of the day you took those pics but it seems kind of dark, maybe it’s just the pic? Or is it that dark outside when it’s cloudy?

  3. Rino Jose says :

    Hi, P —

    The “Wednesday” and “Thursday” pictures are the most accurate light-wise. However, it can get pretty dim. I remember one day that was so dark and cloudy, you had to have your headlights on all day long! It’s not always like that, of course, but it can be…

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