Among the factors taken into account when moving to Chicago, sunny days per year (or other climate factors like the average high temperature, low temperature, or average wind speeds) are usually not something that people consider. But if you’re a fellow sunny weather enthusiast like me, let’s together dive into the intricacies of Chicago’s climate and find out how much sunshine it gets, how often it rains, and how often snow falls in the city.
For the article, I used weather data from the National Weather Service (which is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
Here’s the Number of Sunny Days in Chicago, Illinois
According to the NOAA, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, the largest airport located near the city that has the most comprehensive climate data records in the area, receives 2,508 sunshine hours a year.
The National Weather Service also provides percent possible sunshine per month. This piece of data helps calculate the average number of sunny days in Chicago.
Because downtown Chicago is located on Lake Michigan while the airport is about 13 miles inland, average weather may differ slightly between these two locations.
The proximity of a large body of water like a big lake has an impact on local weather, including not only average low and high temperatures but also humidity (higher dew point temperature) and yes, even the amount of sunshine.
Here are my calculations for the average number of sunny days in Chicago:
|Month||Sunshine hours||Percent possible sunshine||Average sunny days|
According to this data, Chicago has about 199 sunny days. This means that it has 166 cloudy days. Note that a sunny day means there’s some sun: anywhere from partly cloudy to a clear day.
The sunniest month is July with 21 days of sun. The least sunny month is November with 11 days of sunshine. Despite cold temperatures in the winter in Chicago, weather on average is relatively sunny considering that one day out of three is still sunny even in the cloudiest month.
Sunshine Hours in Chicago Compared to Other Cities
To get a better understanding of how sunny Chicago is, here are its sunshine hours compared to other cities in the US, starting with some cities in Illinois.
Chicago: 2,508 sunshine hours
Springfield, IL: 2,665 sunshine hours. Springfield particularly gets more sunny days during the winter.
Peoria, IL: 2,567 sunshine hours
Detroit: 2,436 sunshine hours
Milwaukee: 2,484 sunshine hours
Philadelphia: 2,498 sunshine hours
New York City: 2,535 sunshine hours
And now a few major cities that get noticeably more sunshine than Chicago:
Atlanta: 2,738 sunshine hours
Miami: 3,154 sunshine hours
Los Angeles: 3,254 sunshine hours
Las Vegas: 3,825 sunshine hours
Phoenix: 3,871 sunshine hours
How Many Days of Rain and Snow Does Chicago Get?
Let’s consider other data than sunshine that is still helpful to determine how comfortable the city’s climate is. Namely, let’s cover how many days of precipitation and how many days of snow Chicago gets. Here’s a table by month:
|Month||Rainy days||Snowy days|
With 126 days of rain a year, Chicago’s average weather is neither that dry nor that rainy. But one thing we can say with certainty is that it has consistent rain: every single month has almost the same number of rainy days.
As for snow, Chicago is definitely not the best place for those who would rather avoid it. 28 days of snow a year, with up to 11 inches of snow in the snowiest month, may not be particularly enjoyable. For more information on snow in Chicago, read my article Does Chicago Get a Lot of Snow?
If you’re interested about cities in Illinois that have the highest temperatures, check out my article on the warmest cities in Illinois.
Frequently Asked Questions
Average weather conditions in Chicago are relatively sunny. You can expect sun about 60-70% of the time in the summer and despite much less comfortable temperatures, still about 40-50% of the time in the colder months.
Chicago does get sun in the winter. Even in the cloudiest winter month, December, it still gets about 11 sunny days.
The summer months receive about 20-21 days of sunshine. So summers in Chicago are indeed sunny, though not as sunny as in California.
The sunniest and the hottest month is July, with sun shining almost 70% of the time and the average high temperature of 85 °F. Make sure the wind direction provides the warmest water conditions: onshore pushes warm surface water toward the beach, offshore replaces warm surface water with colder bottom water.
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