A little rainfall (or a lot) doesn’t stop these hikers from enjoying the outdoors.

PAC RIM ACTIVE: October was wet, but not the wettest

Columnist Sandy McRuer talks about rain trends on Vancouver Island

It’s been a pretty wet month, wetter than usual. And quite honestly, I haven’t been out much, other than to watch birds. And I think many people would rather not hear about me blather on about them more than I already do.

So the topic today is rain.

When I was in the tourism business, one of the questions I often got asked is, “How much does it rain on Vancouver Island?

Good question. After all, we live here in a temperate rainforest. And the answer, of course, is “It varies!” But overall, the months with the lowest precipitation are June, July, and August.

I pulled out some precipitation data from the Environment Canada Weather Office site. I selected a few communities from up and down Vancouver Island, and on both the east side and the west side.

The trends are quite interesting. Holberg, on northern Vancouver Island, gets close to four metres, or 12.5 feet, of rain. Wow! That’s a lot of rain! And Tofino, about a third of the way up the Island on the west side gets a similar amount, 3.3 metres or 11 ft.

But Henderson Lake, just down the Alberni Inlet, takes the cake at 6.6 metres or almost 22 ft. of rain a year! All these locations are on the west side of the Island.

The east side of Vancouver Island is much drier. At 0.83 m, Victoria gets only about four centimetres more precipitation a year than Toronto. That’s not much. It’s less than two inches’ difference considering that both cities get less than a yard of rain a year. It’s less than a quarter of what Holberg gets.

About halfway up the east side of the island is Campbell River. It gets more precipitation, about 1.3 m or 4.4 feet. But still much drier than the west side. Port Alberni lies in the middle of the Island at the end of a long inlet or fjord. The precipitation here is about half of Tofino’s, And Tofino is only 80 km away.

How does this compare to, say, a tropical rainforest like Costa Rica? Simply put, the wettest parts of Costa Rica are about as wet as the wettest parts of Vancouver Island. The country receives more than six metres in a year, comparable to Henderson Lake. It rained every day for 359 days in one location. But the driest parts of Vancouver Island are actually drier than the driest parts of Costa Rica.

The lower precipitation levels on the east side of Vancouver Island can be explained by the mountains in the middle of the island. The prevailing winds are from the west. Moisture-laden air is pushed up over the mountains. In doing this, the air temperature drops and the air cannot carry as much water. It falls on the west side, leaving the air drier when it arrives further east.

As the air moves back down the other side of mountain range, it also warms, and its ability to hold moister increases. This of course, is called the rain-shadow effect. The further south you get on the east side of the Island, the more pronounced this effect becomes.

Astonishingly, there is even a species of cactus that grows on the southernmost parts of Vancouver Island and on some of the Gulf Islands.

The driest months of the year are reliably June, July, August and September. Over on the east side of the Island, you can count on it raining less at this time of year than in Toronto at this time of year.

So unless you want to do some winter storm-watching on the west coast, the time to visit is during these months. Isn’t it handy that it coincides with summer vacations?

facebook.com/albernivalleynews

twitter.com/alberninews

Just Posted

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District approves one cannabis store, denies another

Stores would have been located across the street from one another in Cherry Creek

UPDATED: Taylor Flats wildfire in the Alberni Valley under control

Fire is located close to Highway 4 near Sproat Lake

EDITORIAL: Plastics ban needs to start from the top

The more people talk about the plastics ban, the more it may catch on elsewhere…

West Coast Amateur in Port Alberni a success

Top overall winner, with a gross score of 140, was Derek Reid from Arbutus Ridge

ARTS AROUND: Last call for cruise ship vendors

Last cruise ship arrives in the Alberni Inlet on July 6

VIDEO: Sproat Lake Fire Department demonstrates sprinkler safety

Demonstration only took 3-5 minutes to create a deadly scenario where no one could survive

Tax credits, penalizing big polluters, key to Conservative climate plan

Canada’s commitment is to cut emissions to 70 per cent of what they were in 2005 before 2030

Comox Samaritan covers bear with blanket, gets a big surprise

Conservation officer says person lucky after animal hit by car in record year for bear encounters

Victoria double murder trial: Blood splatter analyst found no shoe prints on scene

RCMP analyst testifies to smears, fingermarks, ‘swipe and wipe’ patterns around apartment

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Channel your inner pirate in epic Canada-wide treasure hunt

200 treasure chests hidden among trails and waterways, lots of prizes to be claimed

Most Read