Skip to content

Newcomer to Vancouver: You all LOVE to talk about your weather

In this regular column, North Shore News reporter Mina Kerr-Lazenby shares the ups and downs of moving to Metro Vancouver, and all it entails.
Vancouver's weather is hot topic for newcomers and locals alike.

Of all the things I expected to have in common with Vancouverites, as a British newcomer to beautiful B.C., weather sat at the nethermost part of the list, wedged somewhere between our thoughts on tipping and binge drinking.

And yet it is the weather, or rather, our mutual obsessive desire to talk about it whenever and wherever possible, that has me feeling like I never left Blighty at all.

“Nice day outside, isn’t it?” “Bit nippy today!” “Is it raining where you are?” Like involuntary word vomit, starting, filling, or ending a conversation with something weather related is as requisite as getting into an Uber and asking the driver whether he has had a busy shift.

God knows we would all spontaneously combust trying to navigate small talk without the conversational crutch of what’s going on in the sky.

Thankfully though, there is enough to talk about in Vancouver that such a situation would never occur – and it was something I was made aware of long before I even stepped foot on Canadian soil.

Some friends and family, assuming Canada in its entirety must be like the Eastern Antarctic Plateau, would question just how I was going to manage the snow and the blistering cold. I would apparently have to swathe myself in Lenny Kravitz-style scarves just to tolerate the temperatures, and I’d practically be snowshoeing to work each winter’s morning.

The more educated few would attest Vancouver is balmy compared to its Eastern neighbours, and I would be lucky to see snow outside of the ski hills.

The rain, however, would be ceaseless, people would warn. There would be months of it. Lashings of it. An annual Genesis flood so rampant I would forget the beauty of a clear blue sky. It’s called ‘Raincouver’ for a reason, people would say with a cringe-worthy nudge and wink.

So you can imagine the surprise when I moved to Vancouver in late-August to be met with weeks of summer-like conditions.

As autumn sidled on in I braced myself for weather befitting of a Brontë novel, but skies stayed clear and temperatures high. The city was parched and its inhabitants were feverish in the heat, more loquacious than ever – only now on the lack of rain rather than the abundance of it.

By the time snowmageddon hit the city in November I was unsure what to believe, taking every weather-related statement with a hefty pinch of rock salt.

What’s next for the city that never sleets? A hurricane? A tornado? A showering of frogs? Should anyone need evidence of the impending climate apocalypse, it seemed Vancouver was the place to be.

I was befuddled, but the confusion was mutual – when it came to navigating the weather, we were all blundering around like expats in an entirely new country. There was comfort, and conversation, to be found in that.

It was Oscar Wilde who said conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative, but it’s unlikely Wilde could have fathomed a world where heat waves and wildfires and atmospheric rivers are commonplace.

When a slight drizzle makes for ice-breaker material, who could possibly resist the urge to wax lyrical about something as scandalous and fresh as a deadly heatwave or a pre-winter blizzard?

There are few topics that are as spicy as the weather lately, and with that I think we can all be let off the hook for resorting to something once regarded as a social faux pas. For those who agree feel free to join me for a chat – I’m the one by the window, holding a 10-per cent tipped beer, waiting to throw up my thoughts on the state of the clouds.

[email protected]