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Old Posted Aug 3, 2010, 10:59 PM
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The Canadian Climate / Ecological Thread

Hello

I thought that our forum could use such a thread. The weather thread is great for day to day observations and forecasts, but I felt we need a thread completely devoted to Climatic and Ecological discussions as well.

I wanted to start it off by posting a few graphs I made today to shed some education on the myth that the West Coast is always rainy and wet.

I focus particularly on Victoria because I feel very few across the nation actually know how dry and sunny it is.

This first chart is the Victoria airport and the Victoria Gonzales weather station. One immediately sees that the South Coast of BC has a strong wet / dry season cycle, hence it is sometimes classified as sub Mediterranean instead of Marine (along with its mild temperatures as well). The Gonzales station is also considerably drier than the airport, which is located a good 20 km out of the city.




Here are the Victoria stations compared to Vancouver. As you can see Vancouver experiences the same cycle, but is somewhat more moist than Victoria year round.




Now here is vancouver compared to the Spences Bridge weather station in the dry interior of BC. This really shows the amazing difference in precipitation levels the Coast Mountains make. Spences Bridge is also one of the driest locations in Canada south of the 60th parallel, and it is only a 2.5 hour drive east of Vancouver.




Here is the Victoria stations compared to Calgary. From late April to late September it is actually drier in Victoria than in Calgary. Of course this flips dramatically in the winter, when Calgary is one of the driest cities in Canada.




This is the Victoria stations compared to Halifax. Here one can see how much drier this area of the south coast is than Halifax.




Here is the Victoria stations compared to Toronto. Here, the Victoria Airport station is drier than Toronto on average from April to September, while the Gonzales station is actually drier than Toronto from March to October (the majority of the year)




Here is Vancouver compared to Halifax, and believe it or not, YVR receives around 250mm less a year or precipitation than Halifax.




And here are all of the stations together. Here it is really interesting to compare and contrast all of the different precipitation patterns across Canada (the sub Mediterranean wet winter / dry summer of southern coastal BC, the dry desert of the BC interior Valleys, the dry winter moist summer of the Alberta grasslands, the dry winter & strong summer convection rain Southern Ontario and the true Maritime climate of Halifax, with only a slight reduction of rain in the summer.



I hope you enjoyed this, and please feel free to dispel your own climate myths that haunt your region and / or showcase ecological and climatic aspects of your province.

Cheers

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Old Posted Aug 3, 2010, 11:19 PM
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A lot of Canadians are confused about coastal BC weather and think that it is very wet year-round.

When it comes to Atlantic Canada, it has a reputation for "rugged" weather but it is a region with a wide range of climates. The mildest parts of Eastern Canada are along the southern parts of the coast, which is exactly what you'd expect. I've seen a few people move to Halifax from places like Edmonton or Montreal expecting it to be "cold and snowy" and then being kind of surprised when it was still 10 in November...
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Old Posted Aug 5, 2010, 7:07 PM
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I think that is because most people associate Atlantic Canada with a Newfoundland climate, which is false, especially for the southern portions of Nova Scotia.

Anyways, talking about the dry season on the West Coast, Vancouver just had its first rain shower last night in 23 days and Victoria is on their 31st day of no precipitation, while White Rock is on their 33rd.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2010, 2:49 AM
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The weather station in downtown Montreal is once again king of the lows during summer along with Windsor.

avg. low(July) in Windsor: 19.8C
avg. low(July) in downtown Montreal: 18.9C

coldest temperature since July 1 in Windsor: 12.3C
coldest temperature since July 1 in downtown Montreal: 12.8C (That's the warmest "coldest temperature" in Canada)

While only a few km away on the same island the official weather station in Montreal fell to 9.9C. That's almost a 3C difference with the downtown.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2010, 3:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metro-One View Post
I think that is because most people associate Atlantic Canada with a Newfoundland climate, which is false, especially for the southern portions of Nova Scotia.

Anyways, talking about the dry season on the West Coast, Vancouver just had its first rain shower last night in 23 days and Victoria is on their 31st day of no precipitation, while White Rock is on their 33rd.

Newfoundland's climate is still very mild compared to most of Canada. St. John's has the third mildest winter out the major Canadian cities, the only citiess milder are Victoria and Vancouver, and most other parts of the island have similar winters and much better summers. Labrador is really the only place with extreme temperatures.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2010, 3:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metro-One View Post
I think that is because most people associate Atlantic Canada with a Newfoundland climate, which is false, especially for the southern portions of Nova Scotia.

Anyways, talking about the dry season on the West Coast, Vancouver just had its first rain shower last night in 23 days and Victoria is on their 31st day of no precipitation, while White Rock is on their 33rd.
The major differences are that Halifax (& region) has earlier springs, slightly warmer summer and fall seasons, and less wind and snow than NL. The rain and fog amounts are similar to St. John's, and St. John's actually has slightly higher temps in the winter. Naturally when you go farther north it's a bit harsher in general. The East coast areas, however, may be less affected by future global warming than many other parts of Canada.

Vancouver usually has dry summers, and this year seems somewhat normal to me.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2010, 4:13 AM
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It's a bit misleading to state that St. John's is warmer in the winter than Halifax. The St. John's airport is warmer than the Halifax airport, but the Halifax airport is more than 30 km inland and north of the city. Winter temperatures at a station like Shearwater or Halifax Citadel are much warmer than any of the St. John's stations.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2010, 4:22 AM
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Interesting thread and thanks for the graphs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
A lot of Canadians are confused about coastal BC weather and think that it is very wet year-round.
And within the Metro Vancouver area itself large variations in precipitation/sunshine also exist. I've resided in the southern suburbs of Tsawwassen and White Rock for most of my life and Tsawwassen has always been described as having "twice the sunshine and half the rainfall of Vancouver".

While that statement may not be totally accurate, it also does ring true in terms of personally experiencing sunshine in Tsawwassen and rainfall in Vancouver on numerous occasions over the years, esp. during the wet winter months.

From one web source, unverified annual rainfall figures in Metro Vancouver are as follows:

North Vancouver/Coquitlam - 100 inches+
(adjacent to mountains)

Vancouver/Fraser Valley - 60 inches

Tsawwassen - 30 inches

And that's a considerable differential, if accurate.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2010, 9:41 AM
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I noticed that Halifax also has more rain then St. John's which I was surprised to see.

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Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
It's a bit misleading to state that St. John's is warmer in the winter than Halifax. The St. John's airport is warmer than the Halifax airport, but the Halifax airport is more than 30 km inland and north of the city. Winter temperatures at a station like Shearwater or Halifax Citadel are much warmer than any of the St. John's stations.
This happens in St. John's too though, downtown for instance is always several degrees warmer. I'vel heard several people say that they find that in Halifax when it's -2, for example, it feels colder then -2 in St. John's for whatever reason.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2010, 9:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PoscStudent View Post
I noticed that Halifax also has more rain then St. John's which I was surprised to see.
Both have roughly the same precipitation total but there is more snow in St. John's.

Quote:
This happens in St. John's too though, downtown for instance is always several degrees warmer.
Not really. I am not talking about in the downtown, I'm saying that in Halifax there are stations comparable in distance and setting to the one in St. John's - Shearwater is about the same distance away and is an airport, not an urban setting. The heat island effect is similar in many cities but not every city has an airport 30 km outside of the core.

During the coldest months there isn't a huge difference but it's a stretch to say that St. John's is milder. Its high temperatures are only 0.3 degrees warmer in January than at the Halifax airport station and it is slightly colder in December, February (actually the coldest month in St. John's - it is incorrect to take January in St. John's and compare it to the coldest month in other places), and March. The other two Halifax-area stations are warmer every month of the year, which is to be expected since they are significantly farther south.

Some St. John's area: St. John's A, St. John's West CDA.

Some Halifax area: Halifax A, Shearwater, Halifax Citadel.

Quote:
I'vel heard several people say that they find that in Halifax when it's -2, for example, it feels colder then -2 in St. John's for whatever reason.
There's not much way to discuss claims like this.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2010, 9:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Stingray2004 View Post
And within the Metro Vancouver area itself large variations in precipitation/sunshine also exist. I've resided in the southern suburbs of Tsawwassen and White Rock for most of my life and Tsawwassen has always been described as having "twice the sunshine and half the rainfall of Vancouver".
I've come back from Seattle many times to see giant rain clouds off in the distance, hanging around the mountains.

I also go to the island frequently and it always seems a little nicer there in the winter.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2010, 10:22 AM
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First off, awesome graphs! I had been kicking around the idea of doing something like this myself.

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A lot of Canadians are confused about coastal BC weather and think that it is very wet year-round.
Same goes for Calgary. When I moved from Vancouver to Calgary I was expecting the city to be dry and brown in the summer, even ex-Calgarians told me as much. I had been surprised that it seemed to be green and lush here every year since I moved here, whereas Vancouver and Victoria seem to have had droughts every summer so far. Now I know I'm not just imagining it.
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Old Posted Aug 6, 2010, 2:11 PM
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Same goes for Calgary. When I moved from Vancouver to Calgary I was expecting the city to be dry and brown in the summer, even ex-Calgarians told me as much. I had been surprised that it seemed to be green and lush here every year since I moved here, whereas Vancouver and Victoria seem to have had droughts every summer so far. Now I know I'm not just imagining it.
Well, the brownness of Calgary is rather exaggerated, especially by locals. This year everything is still green as all hell. What people are really talking about is the yellowing and eventual browning of the surrounding grasslands, which is already happening in early August. We see much more of this in the city proper than other places, because of the lack of tree cover in much of the city. It's exacerbated by the fact that so much of Calgary is brand-spanking-new, so there hasn't been time for trees to grow on much of this. I'm thinking things like boulevards and the banks around major roads/interchanges, that sort of thing.

Now, by September things are already going brown and by late September, I've never seen it very "green" here. But that's no different than any other city in this climate. Trees drop their leaves in the fall and grass starts to die. It just seems more noticeable in Calgary. It may also be due to the fact that you have a lot further "view" here due to all the hills. It's possible to see huge chunks of Calgary from just about every corner of the city, so you're exposed to so much more brown at a time than you would be somewhere else.

But yeah, we're definitely nowhere near as dry as is made out. Look at those precipitation graphs - Calgary gets steady rain all summer long. It's just that spring can sometimes take FOREVER to get here, and fall seems to come earlier, so the green season is shorter than most of Canada.

Oh, and on Vancouver - I've never found it anywhere near as rainy as people claim, but it sure is cloudy in the winter. And when it rains, it's this near-constant drizzly shit. So while overall precipitation may not be THAT high, it still feels like it's always raining. Contrast that to a prairie city (or Montreal, or Toronto) where much of the precipitation falls in massive, short-lived storms. Calgary gets almost all of its monthly precipitation in 2 or 3 big dumps, as opposed to spread out throughout 27 days like Vancouver seems to be.

Yes, this is a hint for someone to work up some "daily sunshine hours" graphs.
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Old Posted Aug 7, 2010, 3:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by someone123 View Post
Both have roughly the same precipitation total but there is more snow in St. John's.

Not really. I am not talking about in the downtown, I'm saying that in Halifax there are stations comparable in distance and setting to the one in St. John's - Shearwater is about the same distance away and is an airport, not an urban setting. The heat island effect is similar in many cities but not every city has an airport 30 km outside of the core.

During the coldest months there isn't a huge difference but it's a stretch to say that St. John's is milder. Its high temperatures are only 0.3 degrees warmer in January than at the Halifax airport station and it is slightly colder in December, February (actually the coldest month in St. John's - it is incorrect to take January in St. John's and compare it to the coldest month in other places), and March. The other two Halifax-area stations are warmer every month of the year, which is to be expected since they are significantly farther south.

Some St. John's area: St. John's A, St. John's West CDA.

Some Halifax area: Halifax A, Shearwater, Halifax Citadel.
Yes, but there is not much reason to claim large differences, both have a similar maritime temperate climate. I would argue that Environment Canada should not make claims without qualifying them. I don't consider Halifax Airport to be representative of the city either, but checking out those links, there is not a very great difference between them and the ones in NL. St. John's airport is on a plateau at a high elevation (~140 metres) and that would explain a difference between it and downtown; also the stations you linked at Halifax are at lower elevations, and would be more reprsentative of downtown temps.

The stereotypes of Canadian weather really do have a lot of truth in them, it's all apples, oranges, etc. Vancouver has had no rain for about a month (this is a stereotype which is not as well known). I expect thundershowers in Quebec and Ontario in the summer, and I did in fact experience this while traveling through Montreal airport in July - extreme rainfall and some lightening occurred while I was there; in fact I have experienced this every time I have spent any time in the summer in Toronto or Montreal (that's my stereotype); while it's much less likely on either the West or East coasts.
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Old Posted Aug 10, 2010, 1:33 AM
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Originally Posted by freeweed View Post
Well, the brownness of Calgary is rather exaggerated, especially by locals. This year everything is still green as all hell. What people are really talking about is the yellowing and eventual browning of the surrounding grasslands, which is already happening in early August. We see much more of this in the city proper than other places, because of the lack of tree cover in much of the city. It's exacerbated by the fact that so much of Calgary is brand-spanking-new, so there hasn't been time for trees to grow on much of this. I'm thinking things like boulevards and the banks around major roads/interchanges, that sort of thing.

Now, by September things are already going brown and by late September, I've never seen it very "green" here. But that's no different than any other city in this climate. Trees drop their leaves in the fall and grass starts to die. It just seems more noticeable in Calgary. It may also be due to the fact that you have a lot further "view" here due to all the hills. It's possible to see huge chunks of Calgary from just about every corner of the city, so you're exposed to so much more brown at a time than you would be somewhere else.

But yeah, we're definitely nowhere near as dry as is made out. Look at those precipitation graphs - Calgary gets steady rain all summer long. It's just that spring can sometimes take FOREVER to get here, and fall seems to come earlier, so the green season is shorter than most of Canada.

Oh, and on Vancouver - I've never found it anywhere near as rainy as people claim, but it sure is cloudy in the winter. And when it rains, it's this near-constant drizzly shit. So while overall precipitation may not be THAT high, it still feels like it's always raining. Contrast that to a prairie city (or Montreal, or Toronto) where much of the precipitation falls in massive, short-lived storms. Calgary gets almost all of its monthly precipitation in 2 or 3 big dumps, as opposed to spread out throughout 27 days like Vancouver seems to be.

Yes, this is a hint for someone to work up some "daily sunshine hours" graphs.
Again, not even this is entirely true. While there is no debating that late fall and winter is grey in Vancouver (and green ) much of our precipitation also falls during intense storms. It is not uncommon to have several days during a winter storm season where over 50mm of rain will fall within a 24 hour period, far from light drizzle, hehe.

Most of the rain that falls during the second half of spring, summer and the first half of fall is more akin to how rain falls in Toronto or Calgary. generally shorter in time and more intense (of course there are always days or periods that go against the average trend, but this is true for anywhere in the world).

For Victoria and area, even in the winter there is far less light drizzle than that of Vancouver, and it is not uncommon for rain systems to blow over Victoria in a few hours and leave the city in sunshine for the rest of the day. (simply because of the rain shadow created by the Olympic and Vancouver Island Mountains and that there are no mountains close to Victoria and Nanaimo to the east for such systems to stall against.)

Even White Rock, southern Surrey and Delta are far drier and sunnier than Vancouver and other areas of the metro in the winter (and all year) because they are further away from the north shore and Cascade mountains.

Anyways, here is a cool map displaying the vast variety of Biogeoclimate zones found throughout BC.

The bunch grass zone is the most arid part of BC, and the hottest in summer, home to such cities as Kamloops and Osoyoos. The Ponderosa Pine and Interior Douglas Fir zones are the other major zones that comprise the dry interior of BC, in these two zones summers range from hot to warm and still have large patches of grasslands within them (that are similar to the bunchgrass zone), these zones are home to such cities as Kelowna, Vernon and Cranbrook.

Then there is the Coastal Douglas Fir zone along the eastern edge of vancouver Island, the Gulf islands, parts of the Sunshine Coast, and the southern most areas of Greater vancouver. This is the zone which is often referred to as sub Mediterranean, due to its dry summers, drier winters and mild temperatures. This is the northern most extension of this ecosystem which is largely based in California. Here, the dominant tree species are Douglas Fir, Arbutus, Garry Oak, Western Red Cedar and Big Leaf Maple. There are even small areas of grasslands known as Garry Oak Meadows within this zone. Sadly, these meadows are among the most endangered ecosystems in Canada. In this zone one can even find the odd Prickly Pear Cactus on rocky bluffs and dry meadows.




here is the site this image is from:

http://www.sfu.ca/geog/geog351fall07...ll%20Zones.htm

This map can be found on may environmental sites about BC.

I have tried to find similar detailed maps for other provinces, but so far no luck.

Cheers!
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Old Posted May 7, 2017, 2:40 AM
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Bump, though this isn't the tree discussion thread I recall we had.
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Old Posted May 7, 2017, 3:00 AM
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Long time no see, haha.

I was thinking maybe one of the mods could re-name this thread something a little different / obvious (The Canadian Flora,Fauna, and Climatic thread)?

Or maybe I will make a new thread?

Let me know what you think.
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Old Posted May 7, 2017, 11:25 AM
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Newfoundland's climate is still very mild compared to most of Canada. St. John's has the third mildest winter out the major Canadian cities, the only citiess milder are Victoria and Vancouver, and most other parts of the island have similar winters and much better summers. Labrador is really the only place with extreme temperatures.
Sorry, but that's not true at all, Windsor is warmer than St John's in every month of the year at both our airport station as well as our milder urban Windsor-Riverside station.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind...ntario#Climate

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._...brador#Climate
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Old Posted May 7, 2017, 12:15 PM
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Most of the perceptions around the climate in St. John's are true from an average Canadian perspective, except that it's especially cold in winter. I didn't even know cars could be plugged in until I moved away. I still shudder remembering winters away. Soft snow audibly crunching underfoot? Car bodies shattering like glass in minor fender-benders? It was all new to me.

The stand-out features of our climate to me are an extremely delayed start to spring, a foggy late spring, a so-called "Indian summer" every year, and a relentless parade of storms during the winter - basically everything that hits between Toronto and Miami passes right over St. John's eventually.



As this is a very windy place, winter windchills commonly dip into the -20s and occasionally beyond that - but most of the towns are built in sheltered areas. It's amazing to me hiking in the winter and being genuinely cold and windblown, then coming around some bend on a coastal trail and into a community and you need to strip everything off. Everything is suddenly so still.

For Canadians, St. John's also gets very little sun. But Canada is a bit spoiled in that regard. We'd be one of the sunniest cities in much of western and northern Europe despite being by far the least sunny of the "major" cities here. Our climate is pretty typical of western and northern Europe in the summer, but far colder in winter. Dublin for comparison:



Another thing most Canadians would notice is that proper rain is quite rare here except during the winter. Our precipitation tends to be a wet mess in winter - snow, sleet, ice pellets, freezing rain, and heavy rain. In warmer months, it tends to be fog and drizzle. Fog you can just be out in and not get wet at all - but drizzle is kind of like standing near the base of a waterfall. It's light enough to blow around the air, but heavy enough to get you wet. Umbrellas are useless against drizzle, and in wind, so they're all but unknown here. You would naturally assume someone was a tourist if you saw them using an umbrella about town.

Also there's some precipitation most days, even during the summer. It's not as reliable as the tropics, but for the most part there's at least fog early in the morning, it clears for a fine afternoon, and then clouds over (potentially with drizzle) in the evening.

And as for the difference between the airport and the downtown, there was a pretty extreme example of it this spring. Three days of unceasing freezing rain - trees down, power out, etc. Scenes of carnage up in the suburbs on Facebook. But, downtown, nothing. You can see the ice building up on the hills, but it never reached the core.

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Old Posted May 7, 2017, 12:28 PM
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Let's put this to rest now, Victoria, Vancouver, Windsor, and Halifax all have better year round weather than St. John's. I've never heard anyone anywhere other than on this forum argue otherwise.

Source: http://climate.weather.gc.ca/climate...s/index_e.html

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