How Many Sunny Days Does Pittsburgh Get Per Year?

How Many Sunny Days Does Pittsburgh Get Per Year?

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is known for its relatively pleasant weather in the summer months, much less muggy than in Philadelphia. But what climate does it have year round? What’s the average cloud cover and how frequently can you experience cloudy days? In this article we’ll explore how many sunny days in Pittsburgh you can expect during an average year. I’ll also give you other useful numbers, such as the number of rainy days and the number of days with snowfall.

Climate data used in this article comes from the National Weather Service, which is an agency in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This guarantees the most accurate data possible.

Here’s the Number of Sunny Days in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

According to the National Weather Service, Pittsburgh International Airport, the largest airport located near the city, receives 2,021 sunshine hours a year.

When we look at the percentages of possible sunshine per month, we can calculate the average number of sunny days in Pittsburgh. These may slightly differ for downtown because the airport is located about 18 miles west (but they shouldn’t be super different). We’re also calculating average weather conditions which may not necessarily always reflect observed conditions.

Here are my calculations for the average number of sunny days in Pittsburgh:

MonthSunshine hoursPercent possible sunshineAverage sunny days

According to this data, Pittsburgh has about 161 sunny days per year, defined as both partly cloudy days and clear days. This means that Pittsburgh has 204 cloudy days and that cloudy weather is much more common in the city than sunny skies.

If you want the lowest risk of encountering a cloudy day, the sunniest month is July with 17 days of sun (it’s also the hottest month with the highest average high temperature of 83 °F during the day). The least sunny month is December with 8 days of sunshine when residents may go long periods without seeing much, if any, sun (short daylight hours and cold air coming from Lake Erie don’t help, either).

These numbers make Pittsburgh one of the cloudiest cities in the US, particularly of this size. Even Seattle, often thought of as the gloomiest city in the country, has 167 sunny days. The difference, though, is that Seattle has even less sunshine in the winter months. It also doesn’t have such high temperatures in the summer as Pittsburgh (which are paradoxically mild for Pennsylvania), making it one of the relatively few US cities with mild summers.

Sunshine Hours in Pittsburgh Compared to Other Cities

Pittsburgh Average Weather Compared to Other Cities

We now know that for residents of Pittsburgh, weather conditions on average aren’t particularly favorable. Cloudy days are much more common than days of sunshine and there’s particularly persistent cloud cover in the winter months.

For an even better picture of Pittsburgh’s climate, we can compare the number of sunshine hours in Pittsburgh to some other cities.

For example, compared to cities in Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh with its 2,021 hours of sun is rather gloomy. Philadelphia gets 2,498 hours of sun (read more on Philadelphia), Scranton gets 2,303, and Harrisburg gets 2,614.

Cleveland gets 2,280 hours, Columbus 2,183, and Washington, D.C. gets 2,528.

As a fun fact, Pittsburgh has about half as much sunshine as the sunniest city in the United States (Yuma, Arizona, which gets 4,015 hours of sun a year).

How Many Days of Rain and Snow Does Pittsburgh Get?

Pittsburgh Climate - Rain and Snow

We can already imagine that with so little sun, Pittsburgh probably also gets a lot of rain and snow. But let’s look at data first:

MonthRainy daysSnowy days

This confirms that Pittsburgh is indeed not only a cloudy city but also a rather rainy one, with 154 days of rain a year. To make matters worse, rain is consistent year round. 40 days of snow guarantee snowy winters, too.

Further Reading

If you’d rather live in a warmer city in Pennsylvania, check out my article on the warmest cities in Pennsylvania.

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