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Saturday, March 28, 2009

How Many "Days of Sunshine"? It's a Cloudy Issue

Does Bend, aka "the Paradise of the Cascades," really get 300 sunny days a year? Not according to the weather experts.

Posted By on Sat, Mar 28, 2009 at 9:05 AM

Does Bend, aka "the Paradise of the Cascades," really get 300 sunny days a year? Not according to the weather experts.


In KOHD's "You Ask, We Answer" feature, meteorologist Adam Clark answers a question from a viewer in Bend who wanted to know if the frequently heard 300-sunny-days claim is legit. Short answer: Nope - it's exaggerated by more than 60%.

"According to George Taylor, who wrote the book 'Climate of Oregon,' for a sunny day we need 15% or less of the sky to be covered by clouds over the 24-hour period," Clark explains. "A mostly sunny day is indicated by 15-30% cloud coverage [or less], and this type of coverage totals 51% of the days we see here in Central Oregon. After doing the math, the total number of days recorded as 'sunny' is 186. So there you have it."

The catch here is that the claim as typically stated is not that Bend has 300 sunny days per year; it's that Bend has 300 days of sunshine - a subtle but very important distinction.

According to The Wandering Eye's anonymous but highly reliable sources, a sophisticated scientific procedure was employed to establish that Bend enjoys "300 days of sunshine."

Back in the 1950s, a special high-tech sensory device (a pencil stuck vertically into the top of a cardboard box) was placed on the roof of the old Bend post office building for one year and constantly monitored by a small boy who recorded every time that the sun shone brightly enough to make the pencil cast a shadow for at least 10 consecutive seconds. Whenever that occurred at least once in any 24-hour period - voila! - a "day of sunshine."

So there you have it - the real story. Unless somebody has a better one.

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