British Columbia has something to offer during every time of year! Vast differences in the areas and seasonal shifts dictate preparation for the circumstances a personal encounter. Here's a handy guide for your reference:
Winter along the coast is mild, but the mountains are steep. Most of BC's population is centered in the southwest corner along the Pacific Ocean and on Vancouver Island.
- Winter is wetter than summer, but with over 40 inches of rain in the urban areas each year a raincoat is always a good idea. A short drive to the mountains generally means a snowy playground between November and April.
- Summer months are mainly focused around getting out on the water as much as possible, and with the protected waters around all of the islands, this is frequent! Temperature ranges average 43°F as a winter low up to 72°F as a summer high. Fluctuations are to be expected.
Weather fluctuates a bit more in this semiarid region. Mountain ranges near the coast have taken most of the rain, leaving the average rainfall in the Okanogan basin somewhere around 12 inches per year. Generally speaking, it is evenly dispersed throughout the year. Temperatures ranges average 33°F as a winter low up to 82°F as a summer high. Fluctuations are to be expected.
The Rocky Mountains are a natural border between the more centralized city of Prince George and the plateau region in the Northeast holding the town of Dawson Creek. The centralized region collects more rain (23 inches in Prince George compared to 17 inches in Dawson Creek) and is more moderate in its temperature ranges, 11°F as a winter low in Prince George compared to -2°F in Dawson Creek. Summertime highs in both locations average 72°F in July. More than 5 feet of snow fall in Dawson Creek in an average year. More than 6 feet of snow fall in Prince George. The mountains between them get much, much more.
Most of British Columbia's residents live in a rainy, temperate zone. Vancouver receives over 43 inches of rain per year--five more inches than Seattle! This is less than half, however, of the northern BC coast city of Prince Rupert. It receives roughly 100 inches of rain per year! Lower elevations along the coast and on the islands generally stay above freezing during the winter and have mild highs in the summer.
Extreme shifts in climate depend on what region in British Columbia is being considered. One of the world's only temperate rain forests to be located so far from an ocean lies in the western slope of the Rocky Mountains, just a short way from an arid climate the Okanogan Valley. Precipitation in the form of rain or snow largely depends on the elevation of the terrain in question.
Temperatures in the northern reaches of British Columbia can average less than freezing. Contrarily, average temperatures in those same regions hover around 70°F. This is a similar high temperature to the majority of populated areas in BC.