Vancouver is known for its frequent rainfall. The city gets around 70 inches of precipitation each year. Heavy rainfall can cause traffic disruptions, flooding, drainage issues, and potential water contamination from runoff in flooded areas (dirt and oil in the water.) Google Weather often provides an alert when there’s going to be enough rain in the next few days to potentially cause flooding.
City crews patrol the area to clear leaves and other debris from street drains and to maintain proper drainage. Vancouver gets around 1500mm of rain per year. North Vancouver, however, gets around 2500 mm per year, which is great, because it keeps the trees well hydrated. With forest fires becoming a big problem around the world, heavy rain might be a good thing to protect property values. You don’t want to live in a dry place like Kelowna or California that has a lot of nearby trees.
While North Vancouver gets the most rain, it is at a high elevation. Other areas like Richmond and Delta which are at water level are the areas that often flood. There are a ton of streams in North Van that quickly drain the water into the Vancouver Harbour and Indian Arm.
Let’s Science This
Vancouver is known for its rainy weather. With an average of 160 rainy days per year. So why does it rain so much in Vancouver? The answer has to do with the city’s location and the movement of air masses.
Vancouver’s location makes it susceptible to rainy weather. Anytime we have the winds coming from a westerly direction, the air is coming over the Pacific where it has picked up lots of water that has evaporated from the ocean. As the air rises and cools as it approaches the coastal mountain range, the water vapor condenses and falls as rain.
In the fall and winter, low-pressure systems known as mid-latitude cyclones can also bring rainy weather to Vancouver. These storms form on the Asian side of the Pacific and travel across the ocean, becoming their strongest when they cross the international date line.
What you should do when it’s raining hard
During heavy rainfall, it is important to protect yourself and your home. Slow down when driving and give yourself more time to reach your destination. Watch for flooded roads and avoid them if possible. Clear leaves and debris from catch basins and gutters near your home to prevent flooding. Keep in mind that bridges and tunnels can shut down. Look at this article about the tunnel shutting down when there was heavy snow in Richmond. It could happen with heavy rainfall too.
Stay away from large rivers, like the Fraser River, as it can rise quickly and become dangerous during heavy rain. Rivers can become unstable and give way without warning.
Does it rain too much in Vancouver?
After a flood, protect yourself from contamination by avoiding contact with flood water and washing your hands frequently. Be prepared for potential damage to roads and utilities in your community. Follow instructions from local authorities and take steps to protect your home from further damage.
Follow instructions from first responders and turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Stay out of moving water and do not walk or drive through it.
In conclusion, Vancouver is one of the nicest cities to live in, despite the rain. Just take steps to prepare for any flooding, and you should be fine. Flooding only normally happens in November, the heaviest rain month.