How much does it snow in Nanaimo?

308174535_3cd83a6833.jpgAn excerpt from a post I wrote in the last few days of March, 2008:

“The craziest thing happened in Nanaimo yesterday. It snowed! This is unheard of at this time of year. Snowing at all is a bit of a special event around here, even in the middle of winter, but in the beginning of spring is something people will talk about for weeks or months. After all, a couple of weeks ago the sun was warm enough for some of the die hard summer lovers to start wearing shorts and rev up their BBQ’s for the first time. Then I woke up to about 5cm of snow yesterday my first words were (jokingly) “The world is going to end.” But I’m still here, for now at least.”

I spent three winters out in Nova Scotia when I was going to university. The single biggest adjustment for me was the six months of deep snow and extreme cold and wind. Having grown up near Nanaimo I had only heard about the kinds of winters the rest of Canada faces. Suffice to say, when facing them myself for the first time, my tough guy spirit was eroded pretty quickly. I just couldn’t believe that people lived with that kind of cold on a regular basis. I remember lots of days and nights with -20 C and snow piled four, five or even six feet high. Not to mention the bone chilling intense wind. There were new body sensations I had never experienced such as the feeling of the hairs inside your nose literally freezing every time you inhale only to melt again when exhaling. When I first saw -30 C I was so incredulous that I considered skipping the rest of university and buying a plane ticket home. I could go on but I think you get my point.

Now that I’m back on my beloved west coast, Canadian winters are again something I watch via the internet and TV. A sort of spectator sport that makes us west coasters say “Glad I don’t live there…” a feeling which I think every Canadian can relate to when watching American politics.

Winters in Nanaimo are basically clouds and rain so it’s not like a tropical paradise to escape winter altogether. That said, it doesn’t freeze most nights, it’s hardly frozen at all in the daytime and what little snow we get is typically gone within a couple of days. I often say that our season setting gets stuck on fall and then stays there until sometime in March. I laugh lovingly at the west coast reaction to two or three centimeters of snow. It’s often enough to close schools and offices. We are so sheltered, it’s kind of cute by the broader Canadian standard.

And here are some metrics. According to this great map put out by the CBC that shows the typical yearly snowfall of Canada’s 100 largest “cities”, Nanaimo is number 93! That’s a good list to have a low score on if you ask me.

Ryan Coffey

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