Exactly 20 years ago, I was living in the Seattle area interning at a weekly newspaper and waiting tables at the Brown Bag Cafe.  I loved the Pacific Northwest, but the grayness was hard to take.  One day in January 1993 while I was driving home from work, the clouds cleared and I was utterly riveted by the sun. The light in the sky was so beautiful and foreign that it startled me. Not long after that, I decided it was time to return to New England.

For years, I thought I had left all of that grayness behind by moving back East. I was wrong. It turns out that I am living in one of the cloudiest places in the country:Burlington, Vermont.

I’ve always heard people compare Burlington’s gray skies to Seattle. No way, I thought. Not even close. Lately though, it seems like we’ve had endless stretches of cloudy days, and it’s bothered me enough to ask a local meteorologist if that Burlington-Seattle comparison carried any weight.

Funny enough, it does.

If you look at clear days (no more than 30 percent cloud cover), Burlington is actually tied with Seattle for the lowest number of clear days per year – a mere 58 days.

The specific reasons for this are far too complicated for me to explain. Burlington is surrounded by water, relatively speaking. The Atlantic Ocean is to our east, the Great Lakes are to our west, the James Bay/Hudson Bay in Canada is to the north and northwest, and Lake Champlain is right in our backyard. Very simply put, the proximity to all of these bodies of water increases the cloud cover in Burlington.

As I write this, the sun is shining and it’s bright and beautiful outside.  I’m not startled by the sun or yearning to be somewhere else. Instead, I’m grateful to enjoy a somewhat cloudless day and to be living exactly where I belong.


  • It’s so true. While I’ve always lived in New England, my partner and I recently moved to the Mad River Valley, and keep noticing how cloudy it is. But we love it here. (We’ll just be sure to have a solarium or tons of windows when we buy or build a house.) :)

    • Hi Lisa,

      The Mad River Valley is such a great place. Dave and I lived there when we first moved up from Boston. We have many fond memories from our time there. Heard it’s snowing there today — enjoy.

  • My husband and I spent a stressful few hours in Burlington once for a job interview and left without experiencing much. Since that time, we have read numerous places about what a special place it is. Your blog is helping me get to know the area from the inside out. Your photos are beautiful, thanks for sharing! And just a side note, I think the drama is the New England skies is so different than on the West Coast. Too many gray days makes me depressed anywhere, but many days in New England, the moody sky makes me happy! Of course, I also appreciate the sunshine as much as anyone! Days in January can get to anyone anywhere I think! :)

    • Hi Megan,

      Thanks so much for saying hello and for your kind words! Burlington is a wonderful place and the city has a great sense of community. January is definitely a dreary month, but I can already notice the days getting slightly longer (it’s not pitch black at 4:30 anymore!). We’ve also had quite a bit of snow since Christmas, so that has definitely brightened things up. Hope you can get back to Burlington sometime soon. Take care.

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