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Weather, News

This is the sunniest, least rainiest place in Metro Vancouver

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Kenneth Chan Jan 24, 2019 3:20 pm 163

Metro Vancouver’s southern horizon often seems brighter during a rainy day in northern areas of the region, such as downtown Vancouver.

And that is because it actually is.

Vancouver storm rainfall

Stormy clouds and rainfall in Vancouver, but sunny skies in the southern horizon. (Doug Farmer / Flickr)

Data provided by Environment Canada shows average precipitation levels dropping as you reach closer to the southwestern corner of the region.

This means Delta’s coastal community of Tsawwassen is the sunniest and least rainiest area in all of Metro Vancouver.

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On average, Tsawwassen experiences about two weeks more without any rainfall than the weather station at Oakridge — near the city of Vancouver’s geographic centre. There are days when Tsawwassen is only graced by light rainfall for an hour, while Vancouver and other north of Fraser communities experience a deluge throughout the day.

Overall, Metro Vancouver’s southwestern corner sees about 62% of the rainfall that is recorded at Oakridge. Temperatures in Tsawwassen are also generally moderate, with seldom seasonal extremes, due to its coastal influence.

Here is a breakdown of historical precipitation averages recorded at key weather stations:

  • Tsawwassen:
    • Average annual rainfall: 900 mm
    • Average annual days with rainfall: 152 days
  • White Rock:
    • Average annual rainfall: 1,056 mm
    • Average annual days with rainfall: 153 days
  • Vancouver International Airport (Sea Island, Richmond):
    • Average annual rainfall: 1,052 mm
    • Average annual days with rainfall: 165 days
  • Vancouver-Oakridge:
    • Average annual rainfall: 1,457 mm
    • Average annual days with rainfall: 164 days
  • North Vancouver-Cleveland Dam:
    • Average annual rainfall: 2,351 mm
    • Average annual days with rainfall: 170 days

For further comparison, the weather station at Grouse Mountain — located near the peak lodge at an elevation of 1,103 metres — sees an annual average of 2,730 mm of total precipitation, including 1,862 mm of rainfall and 869 cm of snow.

In an interview with Daily Hive, Environment Canada meteorologist Matt MacDonald told Daily Hive the south-north weather gradient has a lot to do with terrain and the rise of elevation.

“Terrain creates what we call an orographic effect. It pushes the air masses upwards and it just increases the precipitation,” he said.

“Because most of our weather comes from the west or southwest, that moisture hits the North Shore mountains, and the North Shore mountains act as a good barricade to that moisture and a lot of it gets squeezed out.”

Vancouver clouds rainfall storm

Storm clouds over downtown Vancouver and the North Shore (left) and sunny skies over South Vancouver and the South of Fraser (right). (Michelle Zaporojets / Flickr)

With these weather patterns, and paired with generally fertile soils, Tsawwassen is an optimal location for agriculture.

And if not used for agriculture, it could be a more viable year-round location in the region for outdoor attractions, including amusement and theme parks — especially with improved transportation connections as a result of an eventual George Massey Tunnel replacement.

(Big Splash Waterpark)

Big Splash Waterpark, formerly Splashdown Park, in Tsawwassen. (Big Splash Waterpark)

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