Due to the rain shadow effect of the nearby Olympic Mountains, Victoria is the driest location on the British Columbia coast, with much lower rainfall than other nearby areas. Total annual precipitation is just 608 millimetres recorded at the Gonzales weather station in Victoria compared with 1,589 millimetres in Vancouver. Even the Victoria Airport, 25 kilometres north of the city, receives about 45 per cent more precipitation than the city proper. Victoria’s mild climate can support some palm trees, including the Chinese Windmill Palm.
One feature of Victoria’s climate is its distinct dry and rainy seasons. Nearly two-thirds of the annual precipitation falls during the four wettest months, November to February. Precipitation in December, the wettest month (109 millimetres ) is nearly eight times as high as in July, the driest month (14 millimetres ). Victoria experiences the driest summers in Canada outside of the extreme northern reaches of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Victoria averages just 26 cm (10.2 in) of snow annually, about half that of Vancouver. Roughly one-third of winters see virtually no snow, with less than 5 cm falling during the entire season. When snow does fall, it rarely lasts long on the ground. Victoria averages just two or three days per year with at least 5 centimetres of snow on the ground. Every few decades Victoria receives very large snowfalls. The record breaking 100 centimetres of snow that fell in December 1996 places Victoria third for largest snowfall among major cities in Canada.
With 2,193 hours of bright sunshine annually, Victoria is the second sunniest city in British Columbia after Cranbrook. In July 2013, Victoria received 432.8 hours of sunshine, which is the most sunshine ever recorded in any month in British Columbia history.
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