Eau Claire and the surrounding area fare well on a host of “best of” lists put out by different media outlets using a variety of data.
We’ve been among the leaders in rankings of places to retire, best small cities, safest cities, best places to live, and best small cities for business and careers. We’ve earned mention in other categories as well, and our higher education institutions often are held in high regard when compared with their peers.
Recently, however, 24/Wall Street placed the Eau Claire metropolitan statistical area on a list we’d just as soon avoid. Apparently, we’re ranked No. 27 among MSAs in the U.S. for having an average of only 3 hours, 55 minutes of peak sun per day. We also have an average high temperature of 52.2 degrees and 33.6 inches of precipitation annually.
The website took into account data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s North America Land Data Assimilation System. One peak hour of sun is a period during which the sunlight intensity exceeds 1,000 watts per square meter.
“Dominating” the rankings were the states of New York, Pennsylvania and Washington with, respectively, eight, six and five entries in the top 30. Duluth, Minn., came it at No. 5 and our neighbors to the south, La Crosse-Onalaska, squeaked in at No. 30.
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We can take great solace, however, in another finding. WalletHub has determined we Wisconsinites reside in the nation’s 11th-happiest state.
The ranking explored 31 metrics that included depression, sports participation and income growth. The Badger State fared particularly well in its volunteer rate, which ranked fourth nationally.
“What we spend our money on does seem to matter,” said Lauren Braswell of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, who was one of several experts who participated in the study. “Buying experiences, such as travel, or giving to others or to charities is associated with greater and longer lasting increases in our happiness than spending money to buy things.”
The rewards of charitable efforts are to be expected, but what she’s saying in the first part of that comment is that leaving Eau Claire can make us happier when we’re in Eau Claire. That certainly seems on point during the cruel months of January and February.
There also is good news from the Mayo Clinic News Network. An online report reads that, “the amount of sun exposure needed for adequate vitamin D production is uncertain, but most estimates are no more than 15 minutes a day between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., three times a day.”
Even in Eau Claire, we can manage that. We’re not sure the same can be said of Burlington and South Burlington in Vermont, which “topped” the rankings of MSAs with the least amount of sunlight.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention one other set of rankings — all of which, admittedly, should be taken with a grain of salt — that came out just this week.
SafeHome.org deemed Wisconsin as the No. 22 best state for journalists to live and work.
We’ll take it.
— Liam Marlaire, assistant editor