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The Valley of the Sun

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The capital of the southwestern U.S. state of Arizona

With sunny days 86 percent of the time, it’s easy to see why Phoenix and its suburbs are known as the Valley of the Sun, or simply, the Valley. The climate is probably the city’s most distinguishing feature, and is a major attraction for many visitors and new residents—especially those from colder parts of the country.

The Valley is a place where shorts are acceptable attire year-round, where people tend to take it easy in the summer, and where rain is a major news event. Grass seed is planted in October and the leaves change in December. Unheated swimming pools can be used as early as April, but the water cools off by late September—even when daytime highs are still in the 100s.

Newcomers may find it amusing when TV weathercasters use the word "warm" to describe a 100-degree day. But while 100 degrees can be sweltering in other parts of the country, Arizona’s famous dry heat makes the high temperatures more bearable. On average, the temperature exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit for 88 days a year; but only 10 of those days exceed 110, when the natives begin to admit that it’s hot.

Rain falls approximately 36 days a year, but with the average annual rainfall totaling just under eight inches, you won’t need your umbrella very often.

Winter is nearly everyone’s favorite season in Arizona, because desert temperatures are perfect for golf, hiking and other outdoor activities. And thanks to Arizona’s diversity of elevations, snow country is just a short drive from the Valley. Phoenix occasionally gets a trace of snowfall, but the area hasn’t had a full inch of snow in 60 years. Sweaters or jackets are necessary for evenings, when the Valley typically gets some frost between late November and early March. That’s when the weathercasters advise viewers to cover tender plants in "colder Valley locations."