What's Your Ideal Weather?

For the endless situations to which the maxim "The grass is always greener..." can be applied, it is probably most true when actually talking about the greenness of grass.

I grew up in Buffalo, NY, where the right to complain about weather is born of the dark and dreary winters that seem to last for six months every year. I spent fifteen months living in the comparatively tropical locale of Washington, DC and, after moving back to Buffalo a month ago, I decided it's time to use some scientific rigor to answer the question of where the weather is better. Places like San Diego and Hawaii have reputations as year-round oases that can do no wrong, but where else in the country can fans of fair weather go to be continually doused in sunshine and moderate temperatures? I'm not looking for sunny skies and 80 degrees everyday, but some place with less shoveling and fewer frostbite concerns would be great.

So after a couple of days of writing code to obtain and process climate data for (almost) every zip code in the United States, I finally got some results on a visually friendly map. Behold.

(blue is best, then green, yellow... well, yes, you all remember the color wheel. purple means insufficient data)

This map essentially boils down to three criteria:
  • Someplace that never gets too hot
  • Someplace that never gets too cold
  • Someplace that stays dry (but not too dry)
Not surprisingly, all 136 zip codes that achieved a perfect score are in California (mostly between LA and San Diego). Some runners up included Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas, Pinon, New Mexico and Springerville, Arizona. Some of the inland heavy-hitters have pretty frigid overnight lows in the cooler months, but I was willing to admit them for the sake of variety.

I was surprised at Denver, CO, which received an impressive 23 of 28 points. As it turns out, it has more of an arid highland climate than it's skiing reputation would suggest (due to it's location in the shadow of the Rockies).