If you've been feeling the winter blues from the lack of sunshine, you aren't alone. It's been very cloudy here in Central New York over the past several weeks. Since Christmas, we've had only one sunny day in Utica. Early winter is the cloudiest time of the year in Central New York, but it sure seems like this stretch of weather is cloudier than usual.
Why is it cloudy in winter?
The low sun angle, lack of sunlight, and close proximity to the Great Lakes is the primary reason why our region is so cloudy in winter. Lake effect cloudiness creates about half of the clouds we see in winter. The rest of the cloud cover comes from other sources like the Atlantic Ocean, the Hudson Bay, and Gulf of Mexico. In the warmer season, the sun can burn off some of the low level moisture by providing a source of convection and mixing in the atmosphere. In the winter, the sun isn't strong enough to make this difference.
Why is it so cloudy this winter?
Another wildcard in the winter is the dreaded low level temperature inversion. This is when warmer air moves in aloft, creating a very stable environment. This means clouds become trapped in the atmosphere and cannot burn off due to lack of winds. Once an inversion sets in, it's often difficult to break down, especially in the winter. Inversions are notorious for bringing 100% cloud cover that can last for several days. This weather pattern has been the dominant weather pattern over the past two weeks. Unfortunately this temperature pattern looks to continue though the weekend.
With colder weather arriving next week, we will have some chances to break down the inversion and get a few more glimpses of sunshine.