Only a few cities in the world have mountains, oceans, and pristine rainforests all on their doorstep, and Vancouver is one of them. Thanks to the close proximity to the Pacific Ocean and coastal mountains, winters in Vancouver are mild. But you may be wondering if Vancouver ever gets snow. To answer this question once and for all, I’ve put together 10 clarifications about snow in Vancouver.
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1. Does it Snow in Vancouver, Canada?
The quick answer is YES. It snows in Vancouver every winter.
That said, Vancouver has a mild climate, with temperatures rarely exceeding 30°C (86°F) or falling below freezing.
2. Does it Snow a Lot in Vancouver? / Is Snow Rare in Vancouver?
Compared to other parts of Canada, Vancouver enjoys mild winters and blizzards are very rare events.
But make no mistake, occasional winter storms that blend heavy rain and wind chills with 5°C (41°F) can feel very cold, so wearing layers is key.
Although major blizzards are rare when snow does fall, traffic grinds to a halt, and the roadways can become icy, especially east in Metro Vancouver. So watch out on your early morning commute in winter.
Luckily, snow storms don’t happen every year, and snow disappears quickly (in a day or two) but not before causing chaos on Vancouver streets. The city isn’t well-equipped to handle “heavy” snow conditions, and most people don’t have winter tires.
I put heavy in quotation marks because compared to other major Canadian cities, plowing a bit of snow on the roads would be a walk in the park.
Many significant snow showers occur overnight and quickly change to rain or wet snow in the morning. They’re so light that they can be mistaken for freezing rain or heavy frost.
3. What Months Does it Snow in Vancouver?
Although Vancouver doesn’t get that much snow, it can be very rainy in the cities, especially from November through March.
As the rest of Canada says, at least you don’t have to shovel it.
In Vancouver, it snows from December to early March. January is typically the snowiest month of the year. December is the coldest month.
Head out of town and up into the mountains with higher elevations, though, and it’s a totally different story. Whistler ski resort gets, on average, 10.8 m / 35.5 feet of snow annually.
Ski Resorts Near Vancouver
Vancouver is epic for skiing. I mean, how many cities can claim 5 ski resorts in close vicinity – Whistler Blackcomb, Grouse Mountain, Cypress Mountain, Mount Seymour and Mount Washington?
Some of North America’s finest ski slopes are just 100km (64 miles) or so drive from Vancouver at the Whistler Blackcomb resort and Cypress Mountain, which co-hosted the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
The winter sports season starts in November and runs through March. Besides skiing and snowboarding, snowshoeing and snow tubing are also popular winter activities for locals.
Snow tires are essential for winter travel in north Vancouver and mountain areas such as Whistler.
If you drive into mountains with high elevation, check the snow weather forecast beforehand. Even the main-highway mountain passes can be forced to shut down because of hazardous conditions, such as avalanches. The Ministry of Transportation website has up-to-date forecasts and information about current road conditions/closures.
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4. How Much Does it Snow in Vancouver, BC?
Vancouver has less than 5 centimeters of snow on the ground for about ten days a year. But because of frequent rains, it melts quickly.
5. How Many Days a Year Does it Snow in Vancouver?
Vancouver has, on average, 10 snowfall days a year.
6. Does it Snow in Vancouver in December?
December is the time to embrace the winter in Vancouver by either going into hibernation or adding a few extra layers of clothing and hitting the ski slopes.
In December, you can see the first snowfall, but Vancouver usually gets less than five snow days a month. December average temperatures range between 2°C (35.6°F) and 5°C (41°F).
Fun-wise, it all revolves around Christmas.
The burning question is… does it snow in Vancouver at Christmas?
The chances of snow at Christmas in Vancouver are pretty low. If it snows, it tends to melt quickly. But you can still enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. Many special Christmas events take place during this time.
The first week of December, Santa Claus Parade is a family favorite. Plus, there are outdoor ice rinks and festive markets to enjoy.
So, even if you don’t get to experience a white Christmas in Vancouver, it can still be fun.
For winter wonderland, I recommend heading to Banff instead.
7. Does it Snow in Vancouver in January?
January in Vancouver, Canada, is another cold winter month with a bit of snow. The average temperatures are similar to December, ranging between 2°C (35.6°F) and 5°C (41°F).
January is Vancouver’s quietest month when it comes to tourists. It’s usually cold, grey and gloomy weather-wise, with occasional sparkling blue skies to keep the Vancouverites from getting too miserable.
Here are some fun activities that take place in January in Vancouver to beat your winter blues:
This chilly New Year’s Day event has been taking place annually in English Bay, Vancouver, since 1920. In the afternoon, more than a thousand people flock into the ocean and then leap out shivering a few seconds later. You can also participate by taking a cold dip and boosting your immunity.
Dine Out Vancouver
From around mid-January, restaurants across the city offer two weeks of great-value three-course meals.
A Push Festival is a three-week event of innovative theater, music, opera and dance from around the world or around the corner. Performances are held at venues across the city.
8. Does it Snow in Vancouver in February?
February is the last month of the winter season in Vancouver. The average temperature fluctuates between 2.2°C (36°F) and 5.5°C (41.9°F).
There are still good off-peak hotel deals to find (except around Valentine’s Day), and the weather may start warming a little – but don’t count on it.
Here are popular February events in Vancouver:
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is a multi-day celebration in and around Chinatown that can take place in January or February, but it always includes plenty of colors, dancing and great food. Highlights are the Dragon Parade and firecrackers. For more information, check the Vancouver Chinatown website.
Granville Island chases away the winter blues with warming weekend-long live music, family-friendly activities and walking tours of makers at Winterruption. Dress warmly as many it’s mostly outdoors.
9. Does it Snow in Vancouver in March?
March is the first month of spring in Vancouver, with an average temperature between 3.8°C (38.8°F) and 7.6°C (45.7°F). You can still get periods of light snow (about a day or two). The spring also means the rain is in full swing.
If you bring a waterproof jacket and complain about the frequent rain pours, you’ll fit right in.
February is the month of the Vancouver International Dance Festival.
Local, national and international dancers come together to town. The Vancouver International Dance Festival proves the city’s credentials as a major dance capital and usually takes place in February.
10. Does it Snow On Vancouver Island?
Yes, Vancouver Island gets snow, particularly in the mountains, where there is a large and popular ski area, Mount Washington Alpine Resort.
Snow is less common by the ocean and at the southern tip of the island in the provincial capital of Victoria.
While the rest of Canada in winter is experiencing freezing temperatures and loads of snow, Vancouver Island is mostly rainy. Abundant rains make for lush rainforests and full lakes.
The best part of winter on Vancouver Island in British Columbia is storm watching. There are many popular storm-watching sites in Tofino.
Vancouver Island is the ultimate city getaway for overworked Vancouverites. In the winter, you’ll enjoy fewer crowds on the island, fresh ocean air and lush rainforest.
If you want to escape from winter, these are 5 of Vancouver Island’s warmest places:
- St Mary Lake, Salt Spring island
- Gonzales Heights, Oak Bay
- Cortes island
- Islandview Beach, Central Saanich
Climate in Vancouver, BC, Canada
Vancouver’s mild oceanic climate comes with one drawback—it rains a lot which can cause flooding.
Overall, the main contributing factor to the mild climate in Vancouver is the Pacific Ocean.
If Vancouverites postponed running, biking, or golfing because of a bit of rain, they’d get outside only half the year. Vancouver’s annual rainfall is about 158 cm (62 inches) compared to Seattle’s 92 cm (36.2 inches).
Summer is by far the most popular time to visit Vancouver. Daytime temperatures in July and August average a pleasant 23°C (73°F).
Generally, the warmest month is August, with temperatures around 22° Celsius (72° Fahrenheit).
In the summer, the city comes alive with cyclists, joggers, and in-line skaters; the beaches and outdoor pools with swimmers and sunbathers; and the nearby mountain parks with campers and hikers.
Winter weather is relatively mild, with January’s average high being 5°C (41°F). On a few occasions each year, snow does fall in downtown Vancouver, but it melts quickly.
Vancouver’s main winter draw is as a gateway to major ski resorts, including Whistler Blackcomb, which is open from early November.
The first snow usually arrives in December. Heavy snowfall is very rare.
Spring and Fall are lovely, with temperatures around 14–17°C (the upper 50s and low 60s°F).
Vancouver Weather Monthly
Source: Weather and Climate