Travel Tips

Analyzing Whistler’s Mysterious Weather and Average Snowfall

Glacier skiing on Whistler Mountain


Last week marked the first major snowfall in Whistler Blackcomb, as freezing levels dropped to 1700 m leading to perfect snowfall conditions. Not a bad start for for mid-October conditions, where the typical daily high is around 16°C (60°F) and a daily low of 3°C (38°F). According to AccuWeather, more snow is expected to come in the next coming weeks as temperatures start to drop.

For the past 10 years, Whistler-Blackcomb has received an average snowfall of 1,154cm (38 feet) 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 270cm and 279cm respectably. Consequently, over the past 10 years November and March rank first and second.

Whistler Historical Snowfall


Year 13/14 12/13 11/12 10/11 09/10 08/09 Average Monthly Total
Source of data:
Month cm cm cm cm cm cm cm
November 112 217 312 266 560 150 270
December 74 343 137 363 148 169 206
January 123 117 244 196 291 118 182
February 238 128 151 259 132 143 175
March 270 228 405 315 222 236 279
April 76 60 133 143 107 72 99
May 12 19 7 38 34 42 25
Annual Total 905 1112 1389 1579 1494 930


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.

Raining in VancouverVancouver’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.

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