Spokane ranked 4th most depressing winter

SPOKANE, Wash. - Financial website Smartasset compiled a list of the cities in the U.S. with the most depressing winters. Spokane ranked number four. 

The list was compiled based off of two main factors: percent of possible sunshine, and solar radiation. The study looked at what percent of time it's sunny from November through February, and how much energy a solar panel generates during a winter day in each city. The Pacific Northwest overall was noted for its gloomy winters, claiming all four of the top spots for the darkest winters, due to short days and cloud cover. 

Topping the list was Anchorage, with days lasting fewer than six hours in the dead of winter. 

Seattle came second, with dark, gloomy winters, followed by Portland, with a slightly higher degree of sunshine. 

Spokane earned its place as fourth on the list because of the following, according to the website: 

"The fourth city in a northwest quadrumvirate of gloominess, Spokane is actually slightly further north than Seattle—its shortest day is a full 23 seconds shorter than Seattle’s.  The good news for Spokanites is that their weather isn’t quite as gloomy as either Seattle’s or Portland’s. On average during the months of November, December, January and February, Spokane is cloudy 70% of the time."

Looking to move someplace where winters aren't so miserable? Arizona, Florida, and Hawaii are your best bets.

Some people love winters here in the Inland Northwest, but for others, the thrill of living in a winter wonderland wears off, and by this time of year, they're just waiting for the days to get longer and the weather to warm up.

This winter we've faced single digit temperatures with lots of snow and ice. Followed by more snow. Followed by flooding. Followed by potholes. And wrapping everything up in a dreary little bow? Cloudy, gloomy days.

"I haven't talked to anybody that is really enthused by it," said Spokane resident Lee Alkier.

But some actually do say they love winter weather.

"I love it because I actually just moved here in the middle of the storm from Arizona," said Jennifer Dillon, "so from the desert to here, it's wonderful."

But for others, these months of dark and gray days are getting to them.

"A little touch of SAD I suppose from that, when the sun comes out, I feel better," one man in downtown said.

SAD is short for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

"It affects a group of people who every year, [during] winter time, the days get shorter, and they get depressed," explained Dr. Bob Riggs, a family physician at Group Health.

Dr. Riggs explains SAD is a subset of major depression.

"[People with SAD] sleep more, they eat more, they tend to eat more carbs, they gain weight, they feel sad and hopeless and lethargic," he said.

According to Group Health, experts believe SAD is caused by a lack of sunlight, upsetting your 'biological clock' and causing problems with serotonin.

Even if you don't have Seasonal Affective Disorder, cold weather and short days can feel draining.

Dr. Riggs says to a great way to combat feeling down in the winter is to get outside and get out into the sunlight, if possible.

Find cold-weather activities you enjoy.

"Having something to do outside that made you feel positive about being outside, really helped to the point where we started looking forward to winter," Dr. Riggs said, speaking from his own experience.

And remember, brighter, warmer days are on the way in just a few weeks.

Dr. Riggs said he has also seen lots of people coming in with lingering colds, or injuries from slipping on the ice this winter. He also explained that taking good care of yourself, exercising 2-3 times per week, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, and getting enough sleep can help your mood.

If you think you may have seasonal affective disorder, look here for more information.