Flags barely seen through a snowstorm at night.
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Chilcotin Weather

"Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance. - Cowboy Proverb

There's an old saying that suits the Chilcotin very well. "If you don't like the weather now....wait five minutes." No truer words were ever spoken!

The Chilcotin is mostly made up of high elevation arid plateau surrounded by mountains. It sits in the rainshadow of the very new, very high, Coast Mountain Range that wraps around its western and southern boundary. This means vegetation is predominately spruce trees, pine trees, wild rose, tough grasses, kinnickinnick, lichens and moss and not a few tough alpine plants thrown in. Where snow melts and collects you'll find meadows of tall sharp leaved grass, willows, aspen, alder and other buck brush with a few clumps of swamp spruce thrown in for winter color. The only exception to plants accustomed to little rainfall is when you drop in elevation within or near Tweedsmuir and get into rainforest type vegetation.

The Chilcotin is not known for heavy rainfall or snowfall, although we all have 'those' years. Temperatures in the hottest part of summer rarely get above 80-85F, but it does happen. Temperatures in winter used to commonly drop to -50F to -60F in winter but that's much rarer now. We actually have few extreme weather events in the Chilcotin, making it easier to plan a vacation.

Judging what the weather is going to be like in the Chilcotin requires both skill and imagination. Unfortunately, we have a very limited number of weather stations reporting in the area and none that are accessible by the public. The only accessible stations are Williams Lake, Puntzi Mountain, (Tatlayoko) and Bella Coola. All of those areas have wildly differing weather. For example, Williams Lake is in a valley at a lower elevation, gets very hot in summer, is warmer in winter, and has much higher humidity than most of the Chilcotin Plateau. It sits on the eastern terminus of Highway 20 West.

Puntzi is at the other extreme. In fact, it has recorded one of the lowest temperatures ever for Canada, is at a high elevation and is consistantly colder in winter and cooler in summr than Williams Lake or even most stops along Highway 20.

Bella Coola at the western terminus of Highway 20 is more extreme yet since it sits at sea level on an ocean inlet, is protected in a deep valley by surrounding mountains, gets very little snow in winter but can get prodigious amounts of rain year round. Temperatures there rarely go too much below freezing, although it happens.

The trick of predicting the weather in the West Chilcotin is to take weather information from all three reporting stations, add a little luck and some knowledge of your particular locale, and guess. We locals are usually much better at predicting weather for our respective areas than the weathermen are. So for your convenience, we have posted the weather from all three reporting stations on the right and you can get a more indepth and long range forecast by clicking on the link for each. However, for the purposes of planning your vacation over the long term, you are probably better off discussing the optimum times to arrive at your chosen region with local operators. They will do what they can to predict for you the best times for the activities you would like to enjoy while you are here.

 
 
Clicking on Full Forecast on any of the icons will give you a detailed weather forecast for
that region.
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