Variance in Location by US State

State Similarity Index rubric, Geography category, location

The State Similarity Index attempts to quantify how similar states are to each other relative to other states. The index is a statistically-based way to measure this. 20% of the index is based on geography. 10% of a state’s geography score (2% of the overall State Similarity Index score) is allocated for the specific location of each state. Both latitude and time zone were included in the calculation.


The United States is a geographically diverse country, spanning a wide range of latitudes from the northernmost state of Alaska to the southernmost state of Hawaii. The variance in latitude among the states is vast, with Alaska being the northernmost state, reaching up to the Arctic Circle, and Hawaii being the southernmost state, situated in the tropics. Other northern states, such as Maine, Minnesota, and North Dakota, also experience colder climates, while southern states such as Florida, Louisiana, and Texas enjoy warmer temperatures year-round. The variance in latitude not only affects the weather patterns of each state but also influences the types of vegetation, wildlife, and agriculture found in each region.

US Department of the Interior

States were categorized based on their centroid’s latitude (in degrees above north):
20-22, 28-30, 30-32, 32-34, 34-36, 36-38, 38-40, 40-42, 42-44, 44-46, 46-48, 62-64

Time Zone

The use of time zones in the United States helps ensure that businesses, transportation, and communication run smoothly across the country despite their distances. The United States (not including overseas territories) spans across six time zones. The Eastern Time Zone is the most populous and covers major cities such as New York, Washington D.C., and Atlanta, along the Atlantic Coast. The Central Time Zone covers a majority of the states in the Great Plains and also most states that border the Gulf Coast. Only landlocked states, like Colorado and Wyoming, have a majority of their territory in the Mountain Time Zone. The Pacific Time Zone covers mainland states on the Pacific Coast and Nevada. Maine has the eastern-most point, while Alaska has the western-most point.

National Institute of Standards and Technology

States were categorized by percentage land area in each time zone:
Eastern, Central, Mountain, Pacific, Alaska, Hawaii

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