Quick, what’s the first thing you think of when you hear “Pacific Northwest”? You probably think of Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, and then rain. By far the most famous climate features of the region have always been rain, clouds and then more rain. And while we do get quite a bit of it, there’s a lot more to living here.
The Pacific Northwest can be thought of as running from southern Vancouver Island through Washington & Oregan, and extending inland until the first coastal montain ranges. The area is actually classified as a type of Mediterranean climate, thanks to the warm, dry summers and not-too-cold winters. As such this stretch of coastline is similar to parts of Chile, Australia, and Morocco, which might be hard to believe.
Despite it’s reputation, Seattle actually averages less precipitation annually than Point Roberts. Seattle isn’t even a top ten rainiest city in the US, except in November, when Seattle is actually the rainiest major city in the US. It certainly was this year! Summer months tend to have very little precipitation, and the amount of rain tends to be light (it just never seems to stop). The facts back this up too: in terms of days with rainfall, Seattle ranks sixth with about 150 days per year, and has at least partial cloud cover for over 300 days a year.
Vancouver, conversely, lives up to its reputation as a rainy city, receiving the fourth-most annual rainfall in Canada, with its suburban neighbour Abbotsford receiving the most. Clouds cover the area most of the year, and it certainly feels like it rains every single day.
Californians and Arizonans are currently asking “why live somewhere you never see the sun?” Well maybe because Victoria & Vancouver rank 1st and 2nd in Canada when it comes to:
- Most warm nights (2˚C/35.6˚F or higher)
- Mildest weather (days between 10-20˚C/50-68˚F)
- Longest frost-free season
You’ll also find the two cities in the top ten for fewest storms, fewest strong winds and least snow. And Seattle has an average of only 24 days a year where the temperature reaches over 80˚F, and 23 days where it goes under 32˚F.
The Pacific Northwest is the land of mildness – warm nights, short winters, few storms and consistent light rain. Of course that’s not applicable to our coffee! But that’s what we love about it; it’s great for hiking, fishing, biking and even walking the dog, and you never have to worry about it getting too hot or too cold. And plants love it too – the old saying told to Seattle newcomers is that while you think the predominant colour is grey (from the skies) then you may leave, but once you see that it’s green (from the trees and forests) then you’re ready to stay!
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