Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's SAD (Sucky Affective Disorder) Season

When Hell freezes over ...
... it'll be just like Bend.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (or Sucky Affective Disorder, as I like to call the Bend version) afflicts millions of people in the United States during the gray, gloomy, dark months of winter, causing depression that can be severe enough to trigger suicide. The grayer and gloomier and darker conditions are, the more likely people are to develop SAD. (It's estimated that as much as 8% of the population of Alaska gets it.)

If you're prone to SAD, that's another excellent reason for NOT moving to Bend, Oregon.

First, there's the darkness. Bend sits at 44 degrees north latitude, which is almost halfway to the North Pole. That means in winter the days here are short -- not as short as Alaska's, but damn short. At this time of year the sun doesn't come up until about 8 and sets a little after 4. That's barely eight hours of daylight.

And then there's the grayness and gloominess. Chamber of Commerce bullshit about "300 days of sunshine a year" to the contrary notwithstanding, Bend is NOT sunny. It isn't even significantly sunnier than notoriously gray and drizzly Portland, as a look at the objective data shows.

Take a look at this chart from the Web site tracking the amount of daily sunshine in Bend through the year. Notice that the dark green line representing Bend's sunshine is BELOW the national average almost all year. Only for a brief period in July and August does it creep above average. From mid-October to mid-March (six months a year) Bend is far less sunny than the national average.

Now contemplate this chart showing Portland's sunshine levels. Notice it's almost identical to Bend's.

How can Bend possibly be as gray and gloomy as Portland when Portland is so much rainier? The explanation is pretty simple: The storms that blow in from the Pacific dump their rain on Portland (and snow on the Cascades) so there isn't much moisture left in them when they get to Bend -- but Bend still gets the clouds.

And then there are our sucky INVERSIONS, which we have described at length earlier. Portland doesn't get them as a rule, so it's sunny there on many winter days when Bend is socked in with iron-gray skies and freezing fog.

If you develop SAD, of course, you have various options for handling it -- antidepressant drugs, light therapy, taking a vacation in Cabo or Palm Springs. But the best option is to avoid it by living someplace that doesn't suck as hard as Bend does.


Anonymous said...

I think is is EXTRA SAD that I have to leave Bend to see sun, and drive up to the mountain!

blackdog said...

I apologize for the links to the charts not working -- I don't know what the problem is. If you go to, look up each city and scroll down until you get to the climate data you'll find them. Otherwise you have to take my word for it.