The climate of Canada
Canada is the second largest country in the world. With a surface area
of almost 10 million square kilometers it is larger than China, the
United States and Brazil. With a surface area of almost 17 million
square kilometers Russia is the largest country in the world. Despite
its vast size Canada has only few different climate zones. This is
caused by Canada’s situation far from the equator and a limited number
of factors that influence the climate. The
Rocky Mountains in the
western part of the country are an important factor because
depressions cannot reach the interior. This also means cold polar air
has a clear passage to reach the interior. During the winter
temperatures may drop as low as -30 or -40 degrees Celsius. Sometimes
it may even get colder which causes villages to be completely isolated
from the outer world. The currents in the oceans also have a great
influence on the climate of Canada. In the east the Kuro-Shio-Drift
supplies relatively warm water which causes the climate on the west
coast to be much warmer and much more pleasant than on the east coast.
In the east the Labrador Current supplies relatively cold sea water;
this causes the weather in British Columbia to be much milder. During
the summer the heat is tempered by the sea water. During the winter
the sea water and the mountains cause the climate of the south western
part of Canada to be mild. During the winter temperatures will be
above freezing point most of the time. This causes this part of Canada
to be much warmer than other parts of Canada where it may get (really)
Climate information of places and areas in Canada
The climate information on this page is only brief. Specific
information about weather and climate can be found on the climate
pages per area or town. As for Canada the following climate
information is available:
According to the Köppen climate classification the largest part of
Canada has a land climate; varying from a moderate land climate in
some southern parts of the country which passes into a cool land
climate or sub arctic climate (type Dfc). The north and north east
have a tundra climate (type ET). Winters here are very cold; summers
are cool and dry. The Rocky Mountains in the west have a high mountain
climate with large areas of perennial snow. Temperatures here hardly
rise above freezing point, even during the summer. Some lower parts in
the Rocky Mountains have a cool continental climate (type Dsc). Along
the west coast there is a moderate maritime climate (type Cfb) with
mild winters, warm summers and reasonable amounts of precipitation.
Most of the precipitation falls during winter. However, there is no
real dry season here.
Canada has (very) cold winters except for the west coast where the
warm sea water causes temperatures to be higher. The cold polar air
from the interior cannot reach the western coastal areas because of
the Rocky Mountains. The western part of Canada sees more settled
weather in winter than other regions. However, there is a reasonable
chance of precipitation because of the supply of (large) depressions
from the sea. Because of the Rocky Mountains the rain remains
stationary in this area causing high precipitation figures in some
places. In the west the winter is the wettest period of the year with
an annual precipitation figure of 1,000 millimeters on average.
Precipitation falls in the form of rain, snow, glazed frost and hail
from October till March. In central Canada winters are cold without
exception. The only question is how cold it will get. This is
determined by the supply of very cold polar air from the north. In
central Canada temperatures of -20, -30 or even -40 are not uncommon
from November till March. The southern part of Canada usually has less
cold winters. However, a strong current with cold air may travel south
causing subzero temperatures even in the United States of America.
During the winter the south-eastern part of Canada has the most
unpredictable weather. During the day temperatures may be above
freezing point, but when you travel further into the interior towards
major cities such as Quebec and
Toronto it may get really cold. During
the winter periods of depressions with low temperatures are being
alternated with depressions with reasonable amounts of snow and short
periods of thaw.
Warm summer months
Most places in Canada have warm summers. Cities such as Vancouver and
Victoria have daytime temperatures of 20-25 degrees Celsius and night
time temperatures of 10-15 degrees Celsius. Summers are relatively dry
with 40-60 millimeters of rain per month. Temperatures may rise as
high as 30 degrees Celsius in this area. However, temperatures above
30 degrees Celsius are uncommon. Even in places such as Dawson,
located in Yukon close to the border with Alaska maximum temperatures
of 20-25 degrees Celsius are not uncommon in July which is the warmest
month. At the end of August subzero temperatures during the night may
occur. A month later subzero temperatures during the day are not
uncommon. It may get quite warm in the southern part of Canada.
Because the sea has no influence here temperatures may rise to 22-30
degrees Celsius on average. Sometimes peaks of 40 degrees Celsius can
be recorded in Ontario. Where temperatures are concerned the eastern
part of Canada (Nova Scotia and Newfoundland) are reasonably warm.
However, this area is quite wet because of depressions that come from
the north eastern tip of the United States. During the summer about
100 millimeters of rain can be expected per month. This makes this
area not really suitable as a beach destination. During the summer the
northern part of Canada, especially the regions above the Arctic
Circle are cold. The north eastern tip (Ellesmere and Devon) are
covered with permafrost. About 40-60 days per year get no frost.
During the warmest days in the coldest area of Canada temperatures of
10-12 degrees Celsius can be recorded.
Where precipitation figures are concerned there are very large
differences within Canada. The northern part (around and above the
Arctic Circle) is very dry with about 100-200 millimeters of
precipitation per year, almost all of it in the form of snow. The
interior between the Rocky Mountains and the Hudson Bay in the west
are also dry with 250-500 millimeters of annual precipitation. The
south east in the state of British Columbia is slightly wetter. Along
the east coast and the western side of the Coast Mountains it is much
wetter with about 700-2,000 millimeters of annual precipitation. The
west coast is the wettest place in Canada with more than 2,000
millimeters of rain per year, a large part of which falls in the form
of rain. Unlike tropical areas where rain is mostly short lived longer
periods of rain are not uncommon here. Although summers are not really
dry winters (October till March) are the wettest here.
The north-eastern parts of Canada regularly get storms caused by
depressions from the east coast of America. Even hurricanes may occur
here. During storms it may get quite spooky along the east coast,
especially when large amounts of rain fall. A different type of wind
is a snowstorm. These so-called blizzards occur regularly in the
eastern part of Canada.
The figures below are based on long term weather and climate
records. They are an average for the most densely populated area of
Canada: the south of Ontario and Quebec. The figures are an average
for the region north of the border with the United States where the
capital Ottawa and the two largest cities (Toronto and Quebec) are
situated. The water temperatures are an average for Lake Ontario.
Because major differences may occur please go to the individual pages
for climate information on other places and regions in Canada.
More climate information
Climate tables are useful but they don’t give an overall picture of
the climate and possible weather conditions during a period of time.
How high the chances are of hot or cold weather or hurricanes can
often not be found in these tables. This is why we offer extra climate
information per month. The information below is an average for the
south of Ontario and Quebec. Large cities such as Quebec, Toronto and
Ottawa are situated here. Other cities and regions have different
figures. The north east gets less sunshine; the westerly coastal areas
are much wetter and the north has wintry weather almost all year
Please visit the individual pages for climate information on other
places and regions in Canada.
The information at this site was carefully composed from climate data collected by meteorological services, meteorological offices, climate experts and other sources. “More climate info” is based on statistics, climate data and personal experience. No rights can be derived from this site. Weather has no memory and gives no guaranties. Nothing is as changeable and unpredictable as the weather. The authors of this site feel in no way responsible for any damages caused by misinterpretation or other circumstances that may influence your holiday or trip to a certain destination. We provide information, it’s up to the reader to use it to it’s benefit.