'Sunshine' State not so sunny when it comes to 4th of July weather history
FOX Weather has researched how often rain has fallen on the Fourth of July in several large cities and compiled a list of the 10 regions that have been picked on the most by Mother Nature. Look away, Florida.
The hot dogs and burgers are grilled, the lawn chairs are set, the American flags sit ready to wave, and the fireworks are ready to dazzle.
The one thing not invited to this Independence Day bash? Rainfall.
Nothing can put a damper on a good "Happy Birthday, America" celebration like a sudden drenching. So just how often might this unwanted guest crash the party?
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FOX Weather has researched how often rain has fallen on the Fourth of July in several large cities and compiled a list of the 10 regions that have been picked on the most by Mother Nature.
Oh, those pesky Florida summer thunderstorms
The results show the "Sunshine" State might need a new moniker, at least this time of year.
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We used one-quarter inch of rainfall as our first criteria to qualify as a rainy Fourth – as that much rain would turn any outdoor gathering into a mucky mess in no time, even if it's just a passing thunderstorm (though rain would count on this chart while falling at any point during the day.)
The five cities with the most frequently rainy Fourth of Julys are all in Florida, with Fort Myers leading the way at 53 Independence Days with at least one-quarter inch of rain in its 130 years of recordkeeping. That's a whopping 41%.
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Winter Haven, Lakeland, Orlando and Tallahassee round out the top five. Parkersburg, West Virginia, is the first non-Florida city on the list, coming in at No. 6 with 28% of all Independence Days that meet our definition of rainy.
Passing thunderstorms are a near-daily occurrence during the summer in Florida, so don't think of it as raining all day long – and there is plenty of sunshine in between storms. But when it rains, it pours. If that thunderstorm forms in the late evening, then…ick. But again, Floridians are well-versed in the rain-dodging routine.
If we back off the criteria to just needing 0.01 inches of rain – enough to qualify as an official rainy day but perhaps not really enough to totally wash out an event – the list hardly changes. Nine of the top-10 cities are in Florida and all have had measurable rain at some point on the Fourth of July. Fort Myers again leads the pack at 61%.
And the forecast for this year's show indicates nature's fireworks will be fighting for sky supremacy once again, with scattered thunderstorms in the forecast across much of Florida – yes, including Fort Myers.
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What about the surest bet for dry?
On the other end of the nation, you'll find several areas where it has never rained on the Fourth of July (at least, since records have been kept).
San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Diego all report zero days with measurable rain on July Fourth – though, in 1898, the rain gauge at the USC campus in downtown Los Angeles did record 0.07 inches of rain. It's the only such rain measured in the L.A. area on July Fourth since the late 19th century.
You might think Arizona would be on the list too, but no.
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In fact, Tucson, Arizona, and Seattle have had the same frequency of Independence Days with measurable rain: 23.4%. That number is lower than much of the year for Seattle due to summer being the dry season in the Pacific Northwest – and higher than usual in the Desert Southwest due to the onset of the monsoon season.
What about other towns?
Here is the frequency of measurable rain and heavy rainfall for select large towns across the U.S.:
Whatever the weather has in store for you this Fourth of July, we wish you a safe and happy one.