Canada is a very large country with a highly varied topography so there is no single ‘Canadian climate.’ Coastal regions differ from the prairie provinces, and the mountains in the west differ greatly from the eastern deciduous forest area. Global climate change is also affecting normal weather patterns, so the following is meant to be a very approximate guide to our Canadian climate.
May to September is generally the Canadian outdoor camping and touring season, with a month on either side still pleasant. Warming temperatures appear to be changing that in the prairies, where it is getting warmer earlier in the year and staying warmer later. The season for skiing and snow-boarding is November to March.
Canada is getting warmer. Analysis shows a warming trend over the period 1948-2009 with an increase in the average temperature of 1.4C over the 62 years in the record. The climatic region showing the strongest warming trends are found in the far north, with temperature increases of 1.6C to 2.2C over the study period. (StatsCan)
- January is the coldest month across Canada. In the interior, bitterly cold temperatures are usually accompanied by lots of sunshine, making it a dry cold climate. The coastal and Great Lakes regions are much more humid, producing a damp, cold winter.
- Spring officially arrives March 21, but temperatures are often above seasonal earlier than that. After that date, although days are longer than the nights, the odd snow fall may still occur. In the higher elevations, snow cover can remain throughout May and June.
- Summer solstice is June 21, and temperatures continue to climb rapidly through July & August. July is the hottest month of the year, with temperatures often 30C (86F) or more across the country. The dry air in the interior makes high temperatures more bearable than the coastal regions with their high humidity.
- Autumn officially begins September 21, and the air can develop an occasional chilly aspect. October has the highest temperature variations of the year – it’s a month when you can get 30C (85F) or snow. Mild weather can continue through until early December, but the snow can also begin anytime.
Canada’s climate is not as cold all year around as some may believe. In winter, temperatures fall below freezing point throughout most of Canada, but the south-western coast has a relatively mild climate. Along the Arctic Circle, mean temperatures are below freezing for seven months a year. During the summer months the southern provinces often experience high levels of humidity and temperatures that exceed 30 degrees Celsius regularly. Western and south-eastern Canada experience high rainfall, but the Prairies are dry with 250 – 500 mm of rain every year. A selection of cities in Canada with the average annual temperatures and other weather information can be found on this site.
Operated and maintained by Environment Canada, this site contains official climate and weather observations for Canada. Climate normals or averages are used to summarize the average climatic conditions of a particular location. At the completion of each decade, Environment Canada updates its climate normals for as many locations and climatic characteristics as possible. The climate normals and extremes offered here are based on Canadian climate stations with at least 15 years of data from 1971-2000.