The month is June. As I sit down to write this post with my warm cup of tea, I look outside the window and all I can see is rain, rain and rain. No, it is not a joke, it is actually raining at the moment and the weather is expected to remain gloomy for a week. This depressing weather is more frequent than not and is the reason one of Vancouver’s nicknames is Rain City.
How many days a year does it rain in Vancouver?
Early February this year, Vancouver had 28 consecutive days of varying degrees of rain. Compared to the rest of Canada, Vancouver has a rather mild weather overall. We don’t get the constant snowfalls and the subzero temperatures which makes it a great place to settle into if you’re moving from a place with moderate climate. However, with an average of 165 days of rain a year, it is easy to say that it does rain a lot.
Rain really starts to be a pain in October (which was the month we moved in!) and we only saw the first sign of snow the February afterwards. In between, it was nothing but constant rain.
How bad is the rain then?
One of the most annoying things about Vancouver rain, particularly downtown where I live, is that when it rains, it doesn’t pour. On most rainy days, you can get away with not wearing a cap or carrying an umbrella as you will never be drenched. But it will still feel as if someone is following you with a mist spray.
Thunderstorms are also extremely rare, on average you can expect six thunderstorms a year. In the past 18 months we’ve been here, I haven’t seen lightning or heard thunder once. Usually you can tell if a storm is approaching or fading away due to the sounds and lights, but here, it just feels like a constant drizzle with no end in sight.
What can you do on a rainy day?
With the gloominess and darkness outside and the constant eternal drizzle, it may be tempting to stay indoors and watch Netflix or read a book. However, that’s not a lifestyle that one can carry because obviously it does rain a lot in Vancouver. Rain itself is not an obstacle, not even for outdoor activities. In time, those droplets will just become an annoyance as you’re walking in a forest or a park or just going out to the grocery store or a coffee shop. Usually, regular activities are rarely rescheduled or postponed due to the rain as it’s such a common occurrence, it just is.
When we first landed in October and went for walks around the neighborhoods, we did notice there weren’t many people on the streets and at first believed the area was dead. The reason was that we were in a more residential area. Restaurants and coffee shops may not necessarily be full during the fall and winter opposed to the summer but you will still see people going out, having dinner and drinks.
What to wear in Vancouver when it rains?
If you’re in the city itself, your regular clothes will be fine. If you’re thinking of the essentials, they would be:
- A windbreaker jacket or a raincoat: it doesn’t get cold but can get quite windy. I only have a raincoat with a cap which I put on so I don’t have to bring out my umbrella. Call me lazy, but after a while you’ll notice most of the rain is not umbrella worthy. It would be good to note that even though it’s mostly raining, it’s rarely ice cold. So take that into consideration when thinking of your layers under the raincoat.
- Waterproof shoes: there will be puddles and having shoes that let water seep into your socks and feet is one of the worst feelings to have.
- A waterproof backpack: when going on picnics, or on hikes or just hopping on and off transit, almost everyone needs a backpack. Add to it the rain, and you’ll need a pack that is waterproof to avoid getting all your stuff drenched on arrival.
- An umbrella (optional): almost everyone will tell you an umbrella is a must have in Vancouver. Depending on where you live this is more or less true. In the west end where we live, I think I’ve used my umbrella twice overall. Most days you won’t need one and might even find yourself snickering at those carrying one!
Is seasonal depression common?
Unfortunately and as much as you try to keep an active lifestyle during the fall, the constant rain can sometimes get to you. Waking up to go to work with it being dark and gloomy outside day after day is not the most uplifting situation to be in. A combination of vitamins, in particular vitamin D, a sunlamp and exercise can do wonders to help you feel well throughout the dampness and wetness. Make sure to keep an eye on your mood and if you feel you need additional help, there are resources out there to provide you with additional support and counseling.
And what about snow?
Snow is a rarity on our side of the country unless you’re in the mountains. Ever since I moved here, I’ve probably seen snow a handful of time and it’s never enough to be an obstacle to walking or moving around. The largest snowstorm would leave maybe 5 to 10 cm. However that doesn’t last long since those storms haven’t lasted more than a day or two and you guessed it, because it starts raining afterwards. Unfortunately, that means that the streets will turn to brown slushy snow rather than the white winter you see in the rest of the world. The City of Vancouver has not been particularly efficient at handling snow since it’s so rare and the slush is officially the worst thing about Vancouver winters.
Once it starts snowing, your regular Vancouver rain shoes will be more than enough to keep you from having damp feet and from sliding while walking. You might only need to wear thicker socks for the cold!