SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Now, we’re the ‘dreariest place’ in the whole USA



March 31, 2015
Tuesday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
Dreary: dull, bleak, lifeless, depressing.

jpg  Dave Kiffer

Brian Brettschneider is a man after my own heart.

He is a meteorologist and is clearly obsessed with the minutiae of the weather. He has a marvelous blog called "Brian B's Climate Blog".

Check it out sometime, it's really good.

But last week it was really, really, really good.

Brian has taken it upon himself to define what dreary weather is. Or to at least define the comparative levels of dreary-tude.

This is important because, if there is one thing we - in Our Fair Salmon City - pride ourselves on, it is the dreariness of our weather.

After all, don't we immediately get our Gore-Tex knickers all up in a twist when our precipitacious cousins in Seattle complain about THEIR weather?

Seems like every other week they are fussing about some sort of icky weather superlative that seems barely a drip-drop in the bucket compared to our normality.

Sure, the Pacific Northwest can have some rain and clouds and blah weather. Otherwise it would be Southern California.

But whenever they dare to grump about their piddling little bit of rain or all those clouds blocking their sun, we pshaw loudly.


You don't know rain like we do in Ketchikan. It has been raining here ever since, well, ever since EVER!.


We haven't seen Deer Mountain since 1987.


What is this 'sun' that you speak of?

We have read in the old sagas that 'sun' once appeared before the ancient peoples of Revillagegadia and they were sore afraid.

One day, it is prophesied, it will return. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

But I digress.

Brian Brettschneider has come up with a formula for a dreary index and he has measured the larger cities in America to determine which is the most dreariest. He measures total rainfall, days of precipitation and days of cloud clover. Each is worth 10 points and a perfect score is 30.

Unfortunately, Mr. Brettschneider has applied his formula only to cities above 250,000 in population. It is no surprise that since WE are NOT in this contest that Seattle is tied for 1st, with Buffalo, New York.

Both cities rated a 27.

Seattle is dreary. Anyone with a six hour layover at SeaTac can attest to that.

But Buffalo?

Home of the hot wings and “lake effects” snow?

I suspected it was a dreary place to live when the Bills lost four Super Bowls in a row.

But apparently, the weather is worse year round than those inevitable July 4th blizzards. Go figure.

All the way at the other end of the scale were the decidedly less dreary cities of Las Vegas and Phoenix, both at 3.

Now, there are a lot of reason why one wouldn't want to live in either of those cities.

Most notably, the high incidence of people spontaneously combusting in the summer heat.

But, the index only measures rainfall and clouds and both Phoenix and Las Vegas have seen neither of those atmospheric events since the nuclear tests in the 1950s caused radioactive manna from heaven to come down.

The only Alaska city big enough for formal inclusion on Brettschneider's Diary of Dreary, is, of course, Los Skanchorage. Skanchorage came it at 32 out of the 75 cities on the list. It was only middling in terms of total precipitation and rainy days, but it scored a perfect 10 for being pretty cloudy. Must be all that pot smoke.

Interestingly enough, both Seattle and Buffalo got their country-leading dreariness from the number of wet days and overall cloudiness. Neither was particularly noteworthy in their amount of precipitation. So take that, you whiners!

So, after all this, I'm sure you have a question (readers of this column are very questionable).

Even though we are not a city of 250,000 population, where do we stack up?

I'm so glad you asked.

Now remember, the scale goes no higher than 30, so at best we are no more than 3 points higher than Seattle or Bufffalo. That's a bummer cause, I bet, if it was a 1 to 50 or 1 to 100, we would leave those other cities in the dust!

Natch, I wrote Brian and asked where we would be in an expanded list. He noted that he had limited the scope to the bigger cities for ease of reading and absorbing the information (a story about his "index" appeared in USA Today).

But he was more than willing to speculate about Our Fair Salmon City,

"It turns out that the entire area from Prince William Sound to Annette Island (plus Kodiak Island) has a perfect score of 30," Brettschneider replied. "Since all of Alaska is in the top 10% for cloudiness and Ketchikan is the rainiest city (5,000+ people) in the U.S. and in the top 5 for most days with rain, they might be at the very top of the list."

Well, there you have it.

Cold hard wet facts.

On the Web:

Columns by Dave Kiffer

Historical Feature Stories by Dave Kiffer


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2015

Publish A Letter

Letter to the Editor

SitNews ©2015
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska


SitNews ©2014
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

Contact the Editor