MU climatologist: Gray days highest in at least 20 years

Linda Geist
Senior Information Specialist
University of Missouri Cooperative Media Group

December 23, 2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Gray skies in December may have you searching for sunlight and singing, "It will be a blue Christmas without you."

If you think this December has been unusually gray, you're right, says University of Missouri Extension state climatologist Pat Guinan. Missouri experienced the lowest direct solar output for the first three weeks of December in at least two decades

"December is typically our cloudiest month, but the weather pattern and surface conditions over the past few weeks have been especially conducive toward an unusual number of cloudy days for this time of year," said Guinan.

Light deprivation can have you singing the post-holiday blues.

MU Extension human development and family studies specialist Jeremiah Terrell says winter melancholy is common. The Christmas tree is curbside, family members are gone and the turkey leftovers have been pushed to the very back of the refrigerator. Meanwhile, gray days seem never-ending.

"We tend to go into hibernation mode when it is cold and dark. For some, a prolonged down period is due to being left alone to their thoughts," Terrell says.

To avoid the blues, Terrell offers these tips.

  1. Exercise. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and improves your mood.

  2. Keep routines. Go to bed at regular times. Don't nap late in the afternoon or early evening even though lack of sunlight makes it tempting.

  3. Do things you enjoy doing. The dark days of winter are the perfect time to catch up on hobbies or start new ones.

  4. Check with your doctor first, but consider taking a good multivitamin containing vitamin D.

  5. Eat healthy. Watch your diet and avoid fatty and sugary food.

  6. Take advantage of daylight hours. Take a walk outside. Sit near windows at home or in restaurants.

  7. Consider light therapy with bulbs that mimic natural light. There are several products on the market.

  8. Go on vacation to a sunny place or plan warm-weather activities such as gardening or summer trips.

  9. Stay active. Plan outings. Invite people into your home for an evening of board games or cards.

  10. Find ways to celebrate winter. Enjoy the simple things like watching and photographing wildlife or a cup of hot cocoa shared with a friend.

Source: Pat Guinan, 573-882-5908; Jeremiah Terrell, 660-385-2173