Sunday, February 22, 2009

First rainfall in a long time

Clouds over the Granville Street Bridge, January 2003
Clouds over the Granville Street Bridge, January 2003

Apparently talking about the weather is a very Canadian trait. We're obsessed with it, and why not? Part of the Canadian lifestyle is the inherent ability to adapt our lives around the ever-changing weather. As a result, casual banter with strangers almost always involves the topic. It's why my posts on this blog to you dear reader, tend to focus a little too much on the weather.

But you see, when we get to February on the west coast, you never quite know when spring is going to start, but you do know that it could happen any day. So while February may well be the coldest month in Montreal or Chicago, it's actually the end of our winter here on the Pacific coast. We begin to realize that we can put away our winter coats, our gloves and our scarves. We start to wear our lighter jackets. The daylight regime helps too - it stays light out until at least 6pm these days and the sun now rises at 7am.

So where was I going with this? Well, it rained late last night for the first time in weeks. That's right - it actually rained in Vancouver! It kept raining from around midnight until this morning, falling gently until... oh... 11am? Noon? That's when it stopped.

But it's now 3:30pm, and the sun is shining. It's 9 degree Celsius (48 Fahrenheit). This is a typical February day in Vancouver. The nay-sayers like to talk about the endless winter rains, but honestly? Vancouver's rain is overrated.

People like to over exaggerate Vancouver's rain, to make it sound more dramatic than it really is. People like to say it rains non-stop for months or that it's a rainy place 12 months a year. And then you have people who actually believe them.

The reality is that the rain is seasonal - it starts in late autumn, typically by November, and it lasts until spring. But by spring, people mean March/April. As you get away from the rainiest months of the year (November, December, and January), the amount of rainfall actually drops off significantly until you get until July, August and September which are so dry, we experience drought (and the city enforces strict water regulations).

And with the winter rain, it's so sporadic. You might get a low front with expansive grey clouds hovering over the city, similar to the photo I took above. And those clouds might hover over the city for a week at a time... but it might only truly rain for a few hours total for that week.

While we do get the occasional day-long rainfall, they're never thundershowers or monsoons. More often than not, it's a very gentle rain - the kind where you're not sure if using an umbrella is even worthwhile.

But enough on the rain right now! I'll make a future post with actual climate statistics, although this Wikipedia article paints an accurate picture.

Edit: It's 6:30pm, the Academy Awards are on TV, and the rain has started again.

1 comment:

Rob Inukshuk said...

Nicely explained. I'm sick of people saying it is always raining in Vancouver. The weather in Vancouver is typical for the Pacific North west and is what makes the region what it is. Lush and green.

Anyhoo, enjoy the soon to arrive spring. We have a ways to go yet!