Weather in Vancouver: Climate, Seasons, and Average Monthly Temperature

False creek view at sunset from Vancouver Science World on a rainy day, in Vancouver BC Canada.

 

totororo/Getty Images 

Vancouver weather is infamously wet, yet mild year-round. As writer Allan Fotheringham put it, "Vancouver is the Canadian city with the best climate and the worst weather." From temperatures in the high 70s F in summer to mid-40s F in winter, the climate is seldom unpleasant.

Vancouver's coastal location in the Pacific Northwest means several things for the climate—the most obvious aspect being the rain and the low cloud that descends from the mountains and can sometimes make the city feel a little bit 'socked in' with gray skies. Vancouver's abundance of greenery needs the rain that falls for most of the year—in fact, the city is actually located within the temperate rainforest, so it's no surprise that it's wet most of the time.

Winters are wet, but snow is rare, except on local ski hills. When snow does sprinkle in the city, it can cause travel chaos and things to shut down—much to the amusement of the rest of Canada as they effectively deal with much more snow without batting an eyelid.

Summer is a popular time to visit the city thanks to the sunny days and outdoor activities, but spring and fall are ideal times to experience a quieter side to Vancouver. While you might get the odd rainy day, chances are you'll get some sunny ones to enjoy too.

When it comes to packing for your trip. it's always best to bring layers. Vancouverites are notoriously casual dressers, so your main priority is to stay dry and warm. Embrace the less than perfect weather, and bring an umbrella!

Snowy Vancouver, BC skyline
Image Courtesy of Tourism Vancouver / Clayton Perry

Winter in Vancouver

Winter in Vancouver sees little snow, but it's wet with large amounts of precipitation in the form of rain and slush. One thing for visitors to be aware of is the phenomenon of flash freezing, which occurs when precipitation arrives and temperatures drop below freezing, as it can create challenging driving conditions on the Sea to Sky Highway. Nearby Whistler, however, gets loads of snow and is a major ski destination through May. Cypress, Grouse, and Seymour mountains are found on the North Shore, only 15-30 minutes away from the city, and they become ski destinations every winter.

What to pack: If you're planning on hitting the slopes then you'll need thermals and waterproof sports layers, but in the city, you just need to make sure you stay dry, so pack lots of layers and waterproof clothing. Gumboots are a popular choice of footwear here. If you don't want to bring them with you, Canadian Tire is a good place to head to pick up a cheap pair. Vancouverites deal with snow in the same way that they deal with rain—simply put up your umbrella and get on with life.

Average temperatures and rainfall by month:

  • November: 37 / 48°F (3 / 9°C) and 167.2 mm / 6.58 inches
  • December: 34 / 43°F (1 / 6°C) and 161.2 mm / 6.35 inches
  • January: 32 / 43°F (0 / 6°C) and 131.6 mm / 5.18 inches
  • February: 34 / 46°F (1 / 8°C) and 115.6 mm / 4.55 inches.
cherry_festival_bike.jpg
Image Courtesy of Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival

Spring in Vancouver

Spring in Vancouver comes early, with February seeing the arrival of tulips and temperatures on average staying above 32 degrees F, however, wet weather is still the norm

One of the most lovely aspects of spring in Vancouver is the blossoming of the cherry trees, something that is celebrated across the city. While April Showers are to be expected, the city also sometimes has summery days in late April and May, when many of the outdoor activities and festivals start to kick off for the season.

What to pack: Everything! Joking aside, the weather can be very variable this time of year, so once again, layers are your friend. Bring sunscreen as springtime (especially April) can bring some unseasonably hot sunny days, and also pack water-resistant gear and an umbrella.

Average temperatures and rainfall by month:

  • March: 41 / 55°F (5 / 13°C) and 105.4 mm / 4.15 inches
  • April: 41 / 55°F (5 / 13°C) and 74.9 mm / 2.95 inches
  • May: 46 / 61°F (8 / 16°C) and 61.7 mm / 2.43 inches.
Outdoor Swimming Pool at Kitsilano Beach
Gunter Marx Photography / Getty Images

Summer in Vancouver

Summer in Vancouver, like the other seasons, has relatively moderate weather, with less humidity than eastern cities like Toronto and Montreal. Daytime temperatures run around to the high 70s F, but bring a sweater for cooler evenings. Locals call June, 'Juneary' as it can sometimes be cooler than spring with rainy days and cooler nights, but July and August are usually hot and dry. Increasingly, smoke from forest fires in the interior is becoming a problem in August time, and it can reduce temperatures but make the air quality a lot worse—look out for advisories as the smoke can affect health and logistics such as flights.

What to pack: Generally, summertime in Vancouver is dependably warm and sunny, so bring your beachwear and casual summer clothes for hot weather. Pack sunglasses and sunscreen, or pick up a cheap beach bag on Robson Street if you don't want to bring lots of belongings.

Average temperatures and rainfall by month:

  • June: 52 / 66°F (11 / 19°C) and 45.7 mm / 1.8 inches
  • July: 55 / 72°F (13 / 22°C) and 36.1 mm / 1.42 inches
  • August: 55 / 72°F (13 / 22°C) and 38.1 mm / 1.5 inches.
Fall foliage at VanDusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver, BC
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Fall in Vancouver

Autumn in Vancouver sees the city's rain slow down. Temperatures remain moderate compared to the rest of the country, staying in the 40's°F (4-10 °C). September to November is a great time to visit as the weather is pleasant and airfares and hotel rates drop.

It's also a beautiful time of year to go 'leaf peeping' and see the colors of the trees change from jade to amber and fiery reds. Stanley Park becomes ablaze with ruby reds and oranges and the city's streets light up with fall colors. September, and most of October, is often like a late summer with sunny days and cooler evenings before the rain sets in for the winter.

What to pack: Layer up for fall. Cozy sweaters are essential, though sometimes the mild and slightly humid temperatures mean you're more likely to want a breathable jacket that will keep you dry. Gumboots might also be a good idea if you're planning on being outdoors.

Average temperatures and rainfall by month:

  • September: 50 / 64°F (10 / 18°C) and 64.4 mm / 2.54 inches
  • October: 43 / 57°F (6 / 14°) and 115.3 mm / 4.54 inches.