There are lots of memes on the internet about how cold Canada is. Unfortunately, these jokes have led many outsiders to think that Canada is just a large expanse of snow-streaked land. But Canada is much more than that. So, is Canada as cold as they make it?
Canada is a cold country, but there’s much more to it. Due to its size, it has 12 climatic zones with different levels of coldness. Canadian provinces and territories fall into six zones in terms of weather. These are the West Coast, Prairies, Arctic, Atlantic Seaboard, Central Canada, and Boreal.
Despite the popular belief that Canada is cold, it’s not completely so in reality. There are places in the country where summers are very hot and places with mild temperatures all year round. This article looks at what makes Canada a cold place and the different climatic conditions all over the country.
Why is Canada Cold
Canada isn’t an exclusively cold place, but it does experience significant cold. The major factor responsible for this is its latitude. Its high latitude means that it receives less sunlight during the winter. The northernmost parts of the country even experience a significant number of days without sunlight during the winter. Places in the northernmost part of Canada, such as Eureka, Nunavut, Grise Ford, experience months without sunlight during the winter.
Beyond the fewer days of sunlight in the winter, another factor responsible for the cold temperature in Canada is the ocean currents from the arctic circle that sometimes reaches Canada. In addition, Canada experiences massive and extremely cold winds and storms. All these ensure that the weather stays very cold.
Is Canada Always Cold
The country, which covers the whole northern stretch of North America, is one of the biggest in the world. Such a large expanse of land also means that there are different climatic conditions.
The average summer temperature in Canada varies from location to location. On the East and West Coast, it’s usually around 20 degrees Celsius, but it gets much hotter in the interior, with the temperature ranging between 25-30 degrees Celsius. There are even occasions of extremely high temperature where it can exceed 40 degrees in some interior locations. Generally, the interior locations and prairie provinces have extremes of weather both in the summer and winter. Thus, while Canada is very cold, it’s not always cold.
Most of the population resides in the western and southern parts of the country, where the weather is much warmer. Parts of Provinces such as Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario are in these areas, and they are the warmest areas any time of the year.
How Cold Are the Provinces and Territories in Canada?
Cold temperature varies by location in Canada. According to the Koppen Climate Classification, Canada has 12 climatic zones. One of the major ones is the Cool Continental/Subarctic Climate which most provinces in Central Canada enjoy. There’s also the Tundra Climate covering the northern stretch of the country and the Temperate Continental Climate. Beyond these three, other climatic zones in the country include Cold Desert, Cold Semi-Arid, Ice Cap, Temperate Mediterranean, Temperate Oceanic, etc.
Outside of all these classifications, the provinces and territories in Canada can be classified into six different categories when it comes to how cold they can get. These are:
1. The West Coast
British Columbia is the only province in this category, and it enjoys some of the best temperatures in Canada. It’s close to the Pacific Ocean, which brings humid air with its winds. Temperature is great along the coast, with a lower amount of stone compared to the Canadian average. The Coastal Range and the Rocky Mountains shield the land area from the humid winds. While the temperature might differ from city to city, British Columbia is still one of Canada’s warmest places to live. Its average daily temperature of 11 degrees Celsius is similar to that of Central Europe. In Vancouver, winters usually have 0-5 degrees Celsius, while the summer is usually around 20 degrees Celsius.
2. The Prairies
This region experiences some of the extreme temperatures in Canada. The large expanse of land covering Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan provinces is in the southern part of the country. Nestled between the Great Lakes and the Rocky Mountains, winter can be cold, but summer gets equally hot just as well. The average summer temperature is above 17 degrees Celsius, but it can get as hot as 23 degrees Celsius. During the cold months, the average daily temperature drops to around -8 degrees Celsius, and in January, the coldest month, it can reach -18 degrees Celsius. Thus, the prairie provinces are part of the coldest places in Canada.
3. The Arctic
Nunavut and the northernmost parts of Quebec and the Northwest Territories are in this region, and it’s the coldest part of Canada by far. Thus, only a few people live in these parts. For example, Iqaluit, which is the capital city of Nunavut, has less than 10,000 people in it. Summer along these parts lasts only a few weeks. Temperature varies by location. For example, the average summer temperature in Hall Beach is 6 degrees Celsius while it’s 11 degrees Celsius in Baker Lake. The same thing applies to winter, varying based on how close the area is to the Arctic. Iqaluit has a temperature of -27 degrees Celsius, while Pond inlet temperature is -32 degrees Celsius. Generally, winters are very harsh, and summer is very short.
4. The Atlantic Seaboard
This region comprises three provinces – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edwards Island, and Newfoundland. These areas experience great weather fluctuations. Temperature extremes are quite common, and so is heavy snow.
5. Central Canada
This region is where most of Canada’s population is. It covers Ontario to Quebec and includes cities such as Toronto, Montreal, and other smaller cities. Summers vary between mild and hot, while winter is usually cold with lots of snow. In Toronto, the summer has an average temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius, while its coldest month, January, has an average temperature of -2.5 degrees Celsius. The temperature in the winter is negative, with an average of -5.5 degrees Celsius, and it rarely gets hotter than 20 degrees Celsius.
This region covers Southern Labrador, some parts of Newfoundland interior, northernmost Ontario and Prairie provinces, most parts of Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. Winter in this region can be as low as 40 degrees Celsius, and in summer, it can be as high as 30 degrees Celsius. But the summer usually doesn’t last beyond three months.
Canada is a very cold place. In fact, the title for the coldest city in the world is between it and Russia. However, cold alone doesn’t define Canada’s weather as it’s a very big country with different climatic zones. Furthermore, it experiences all four seasons, which means it also has hot months.