Out of the largest cities, Phoenix, Arizona is known as the sunniest city in the United States. And in fact, given how many sunny days in Phoenix you can expect per year, it’s one of the sunniest cities in the world. But how many days is it? And how often does it rain? In this article I’ll give you climate data about this sunny city so you can better understand how often it enjoys sunny skies.
Climate data used in this article comes from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
Here’s the Number of Sunny Days in Phoenix, Arizona
According to the NOAA, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the largest airport located near the city, receives 3,872 sunshine hours a year.
Located in the center of the metropolitan area, it serves as the most accurate source of climate data for the surrounding cities (both Phoenix as well as Scottsdale, Mesa, Glendale, etc.). While there may be slight differences for communities a little farther away from the airport (like Sun City, located 26 miles away), overall they shouldn’t be noticeable.
Along with sunshine hours, the NOAA also provides what’s called “percent possible sunshine,” that is the percentage of daylight hours there’s sun. When we take this data, we can calculate how many sunny days Phoenix gets on average per year.
Here are my calculations to determine the number of sunny days in Phoenix:
|Month||Sunshine hours||Percent possible sunshine||Average sunny days|
According to this data, Phoenix has about 316 sunny days per year, defined as both partly cloudy days and clear days (though the majority are clear days). This means that it has only 49 days of cloudy weather.
Whether during the mild winters or the hot summers, Phoenix always gets at least 23-24 days of sun a month. This makes it by far the sunniest city in the US among the largest cities.
The sunniest months are May and June with 28-29 days of sunshine. The least sunny month is February with about 24 days of sunshine.
Sunshine Hours in Phoenix Compared to Other Cities
We now know that Phoenix is one of the sunniest cities in the United States. You’ll most certainly have abundant vitamin D to tap into. But how does Phoenix compare to other cities? Let’s see how the number of sunshine hours in Phoenix (3,872) stacks up to various US cities.
Cities in Arizona
Tucson receives 3,806 hours of sun. Despite its cooler climate, it doesn’t rank that much behind Phoenix in terms of sunny days, with just 66 fewer hours of sun.
Flagstaff, about two hours north of Phoenix, records 3,475 hours of sunshine. That’s 397 fewer hours of sunshine but still a lot considering the city has four seasons.
Cities in Florida
Leaving the Grand Canyon State, let’s hop on to Florida (often compared to Arizona) and its hottest city of Key West.
It records 3,404 hours of sun. While less, it’s only 468 fewer hours of sunshine than Phoenix which isn’t much considering the city’s tropical climate.
How about Miami? While often compared to Phoenix, particularly for retirement, Miami gets 3,154 hours of sun a year which is noticeably less than in Phoenix.
Cities in Nevada
Las Vegas, Nevada has 3,825 hours of sunshine. This makes Phoenix win over the Nevada city with 47 hours. It’s not a huge difference but nonetheless, Phoenix is sunnier than Las Vegas. Don’t get me wrong: both are extremely sunny cities with a desert climate and you’re unlikely to notice a difference sunshine-wise.
Reno, sitting in the rain shadow of Sierra Nevada mountains and with quick access to Lake Tahoe, is also one of the sunniest cities in the region. It records 3,646 hours of sun which is 226 fewer hours than Phoenix and 179 fewer hours than Las Vegas.
Cities in Texas
Compared to another desert city, El Paso, Texas, Phoenix has over 100 hours of sunshine more. To be more exact, El Paso has 3,763 while Phoenix has 3,872, meaning 109 hours of sun more.
Like with Las Vegas, El Paso is still an extremely sunny city and you’re unlikely to see any noticeable difference between these two of the sunniest cities in the United States.
Lubbock, another city with an arid climate in Texas, records 3,197 hours of sun. That’s much less than El Paso and that difference will be noticeable.
Cities in California
How about San Diego, a city included in most California itineraries that consistently ranks as having one of the best climates in the US?
While you may equate San Diego with sunny weather, in fact it records “only” 3,054 hours of sun. That’s a huge difference compared to Phoenix as it means 817 fewer hours of sun.
Sacramento is much closer to Phoenix sunshine-wise. It records 3,608 hours of sun, which is 264 fewer hours of sun.
But curiously, its sunniest month July, is the sunniest month anywhere in the world. Sun shines 98% of the time compared to 95% of the time in the sunniest month in Phoenix.
Is There Any City That’s Sunnier Than Phoenix?
What if you’re looking for even more sunny days? Can you do better than Phoenix?
Actually, you can.
Yuma is the sunniest city in the United States. It records 4,015 hours of sunshine, meaning it receives 143 hours of sun more.
Translated to the number of sunny days, Yuma receives 328 sunny days and thus offers 12 days of sun more. Other cities near the Mexican border have similar sunshine hours.
How Many Days of Rain Does Phoenix Get?
As one of the sunniest cities in the US, it’s clear that Phoenix doesn’t get much rain. But what does it mean exactly? Let’s look at the data:
Here we have another confirmation that among large cities, Phoenix is the sunniest city in the US. With just 33 days of rain a year, you don’t have to plan your outdoor activities around weather. The annual average precipitation of just 7.22 inches of rain means you’re unlikely to ever complain about it.
If you’re interested in more climate data about Phoenix or Arizona, check out my articles:
- What Are the Warmest Cities in Arizona?
- What City Has the Best Weather in Arizona?
- Arizona Cities With 4 Seasons
- What Are Winters Like in Arizona?
- Is Arizona Hotter Than Florida?
Frequently Asked Questions
Among large cities, Phoenix is indeed the sunniest. Among all cities, Yuma, also in Arizona, is sunnier. It gets 12 days of sun more.
With 3,872 hours of sun out of theoretical maximum 4,380, Phoenix is one of the sunniest cities in the world. Only a few areas of the world (including Yuma in Arizona and some areas of Egypt) are sunnier than Phoenix.
Phoenix is slightly sunnier than Las Vegas but the difference (47 hours a year more) isn’t noticeable.
While both cities share the same desert climate, Phoenix is slightly sunnier as it gets 66 hours of sun more a year.
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