Winter Weather in Western Canada

Friday, January 18, 2013

Winter Weather in Western Canada

If you are moving to the western provinces or if you are a newcomer wondering what the winter months might bring, here is a brief overview:

  • In general, the winters are wet and the summers quite dry, and the mountainous interior is much colder and snowier than the Pacific coast.

  • Typical winter temperatures: British Columbia does not experience the extremely low temperatures one finds in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In the latter three, nighttime temperatures often drop to -25C and daytime ones to -15C. The coast of B.C. almost never drops below freezing point. Alberta serves up some cold winters, but lies somewhere between Saskatchewan/Manitoba and B.C. The sun often keeps going, even while it is snowing.

  • Snow: In general, the mountainous interior gets a lot more snow than the coast line. While Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta experience a fair amount of winter snow, B.C.’s oceanic climate means that its winters are more rainy than snowy.

  • Rain: B.C. gets a lot of rain during the winter, while the other three provinces receive smaller amounts of rain spread more evenly through the seasons.

  • Wind: the wind in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta is absolutely freezing. New Westerners often comment on that as one of the most disconcerting parts of winter. It often makes the temperatures feel a lot colder than they are. Some areas experience the Chinook wind phenomenon, which are warm winds that raise winter temperatures temporarily.

  • The greatest advantage of the snowy weather in the western interior is, of course, for snow sports enthusiasts. The snow serves up some great skiing experiences, such as at Lake Louise in Alberta.