Last week marked the end of November and the first full operational week for both Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, yet, it took a massive snow storm in the last three days for Whistler to reach its average November snowfall. In the final week of November, Whistler received 68 cm of snow and another 75cm over the first two days of December. But the funny thing about Whistler’s weather is the months that it receives the largest amounts of snow.
For the past 11 years, Whistler-Blackcomb has received an average snowfall of 1,192cm (11.92m) per year. But it’s the months in which it’s receiving the largest snowfalls that make you wonder. For the past six years, November and March have seen the largest average monthly snowfalls in Whistler at 353cm and 258cm respectably and over the past 11 years, November and March rank first and third respectably.
Whistler Historical Snowfall
|Year||11/12||10/11||09/10||08/09||07/08||06/07||Average Monthly Total|
|Source of data: Whistler.com|
Whistler-Blackcomb has traditional received approximately 40 to 45% of its average annual snowfall at the beginning of the snow season and at the end of it, making it one of the last North American ski resorts to close each season. This also allows Whistler-Blackcomb to have some of the best early season and late season snow conditions of any ski resort in North America. But why is this happening? Well that’s for Mother Nature to decide. We think it might have something to do with Vancouver, Whistler’s closest major city, receiving the highest average monthly rainfall in the month of November for the past 30 years.
Looking at Whistler’s Weather Mystery…
With Whistler only a 1.5hr drive away from Vancouver, the two city climates can be interlinked quite often. The reason why Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain may get more snow at the beginning of the season is likely because they’re at the right freezing elevation to benefit from seasonally wet periods of precipitation that fall on the ‘Wet Coast.’ Whistler’s seasonal November temperatures range from 5 degrees Celsius in the village to as low as -10 or -15 in the alpine, creating for the perfect snowfall situation with a fluctuating freezing level between 1000 to 2000 metres and elevation range of 675 metres in Whistler Village to 2,284 metres at the top.
Vancouver’s coastal mountains don’t benefit as much from the early seasonal precipitation with warmer temperatures and elevation ranges that are lower than the freezing level. The elevation ranges on Vancouver’s three coastal mountains, Grouse Mountain, Seymour Mountain, and Cypress Mountain vary from 274 metres to 1440 metres.
With Vancouver receiving approximately 225mm of rain on average in the month of November, it makes sense that all that rain would translate into an epic snowfall in Whistler. We’re certainly not preaching that the best time to visit Whistler during the winter is in early or late season, but it does seem to be when the mountain resorts enjoys the largest average monthly snowfalls and possibly the best snow conditions for skiers and boarders. But whether there is a lot of snow or a little snow doesn’t really matter. There are still a lot of things to do in Whistler during the winter months, making it one of the great winter destinations to spend a family holiday.