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How do our Seattle winters rank on the scale of miserableness?

You might be surprised where the State of Washington lands on this list.  After all, even though we don’t have what most people would consider a brutal winter, we do have month after month of darkness and dampness and 41 degrees and just . . . blah. And as you probably know all too well, by, like, March or April, that can drive some people insane. Some people who actually live in my house and are married to me, in fact.

If you moved here from a sunnier climate, like California, it probably drives you crazy when it’s drizzly and dark and in the low 40s on a typical winter day here, while just a couple of hours south of us by plane, your old friends in the Golden State are walking their dogs and rollerblading in sunshine and 65 degrees.

On the other hand, if you hail from a climate that’s colder and snowier like I did many years ago (Chicago), you actually miss those winter days when you may have a foot of snow on the ground and the temperature has dropped to, like, zero, but at least the sun is blazing down from a crisp, clear blue Midwestern sky and everything is bright.

So . . . how miserable are our winters, really? Well whaddaya know? The website Thrillist Travel made a list.

First of all, #50 on the list — meaning the state with the LEAST miserable winters — is of course Hawaii. Lovely, sure, but you’re probably not spending more than 10 days a year there unless you’re a surf instructor, a server in a touristy restaurant, or Oprah.

It’s also worth noting that while dry and sunny Arizona is just above Hawaii as the 49th most miserable, and California is next at #48, the mile high state of Colorado is #47, and they have lots and lots of snow. But as the story says:

 . . . the thing is, snowfall is a cause for celebration here. Have you ever been to Colorado in wintertime? The sun is shining, the winter sports are world class, and if people aren’t (legally) high as balls, then they’re getting into some fantastic beer. They even threw in a 2016 Super Bowl for good measure.  . . .  Colorado has basically solved winter.  

Meaning, lots of snow doesn’t automatically make for a miserable winter.

So where are we on the list? According to the two guys who wrote this story (who are from New England and the Midwest, BTW), Washington has — ta daaa!!! — the 18th most miserable winters in the US. That’s just behind Oregon at #17 (although they say Portland’s winters are depressing; the rest of Oregon is beautiful.)

Credit: John Fisher

Who tops the list with the most miserable winters in the country? Coming in at #1 it’s . . . . Minnesota:

Parts of northern Minnesota see up to 170in of snow in a winter. One hundred seventy inches! It can get down to -60 degrees, a temperature at which frostbite can occur in fewer than five minutes. There are no chinook winds or moderating oceans to temper things outside of a small area by Lake Superior. Your sports teams never win championships. All of your good high school hockey players end up starring for NHL teams in other cities. Ice fishing can’t be that cool, really.

I might have picked Alaska, but these guys put that state at #3, I guess because you have to be a special breed of person to want to live there in the first place, and you know what you’re in for.

So  . . . . Washington winters are far from the worst in the country, but let’s be honest: Winter is not Washington at its best. Get back to us with a list of the best Julys and Augusts in the country, and we’ll be competitive.

Check out the complete list here.

AboutJohn Fisher

John is a Midwest native who started his Northwest radio career in 1992 after moving to Seattle from Chicago. He’s an avid cyclist, traveler, foodie, and dog lover (Zoe and Gizmo, both shelter dogs.) He’s worked with various animal organizations including PAWS, Seattle Humane Society and Seattle Animal Shelter. John got a late start on fatherhood – he and his wife have a 3-year-old son named Dawson who likes to talk back to the radio when he hears his father on the air, just like he does in person.