Victoria BC has a temperate climate that is usually classified as Marine west coast with mild, damp winters and relatively dry and mild summers. It is sometimes classified as a Mediterranean climate (Csb), a designation that would only make residents burst out laughing.
The truth is, the weather is quite similar to that of Vancouver or Seattle only with considerably less rainfall (fully half that of Vancouver and 35% less than Seattle). The rain clouds seem to pass over Vancouver Island only to bump into the mountains around Vancouver and Seattle, causing them to deluge those cities in a way that Victoria does not typically see. Daily temperatures in Victoria rise above 30°C (86°F) on an average only for one or two days per year and fall below -5°C (23°F) on an average of only 2 nights per year. During the winter, the average daily high and low temperatures are 8.2°C (47°F) and 3.6°C (38°F), respectively. The summer months are equally mild, with an average high temperature of 19.6°C (67°F) and low of 11.3°C (52°F). Victoria does occasionally experience more extreme temperatures. The highest temperature ever recorded in Victoria was 36.3°C (97.3°F) on July 11, 2007, while the coldest temperature on record was -15.6°C (4°F) on December 29, 1968 and January 28, 1950. Victoria has not recorded a temperature below -10°C (14°F) since 1990.
Total annual precipitation is just 608 mm (24 inches) at the Gonzales weather station in Victoria, contrasted to 970mm (38 inches) in nearby Seattle (137 km/85 miles away to the southeast), and to 1,219 mm (48 inches) of rainfall in Vancouver, (100 km away). Perhaps even more dramatic is the difference in rainfalls on Vancouver Island. Port Renfrew, just 80 km from Victoria on the wet southwest coast of Vancouver Island receives 3,671 mm (145 in). Even the Victoria Airport, 25 km north of the city, receives about 45 per cent more precipitation than the city proper. One of the most striking features of Victoria’s climate is the 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 mm/4 in) is nearly eight times as high as in July, the driest month (14 mm/0.5 in). During the summer months, Victoria is the driest major city in Canada. Victoria averages just 26 cm (10 in) of snow annually. Every few decades, Victoria receives very large snowfalls, including the more than 100 cm (39 in) of snow that fell in December 1996. On the other hand, roughly one third of winters will see virtually no snow, with less than 5 cm (2 in) falling during the entire season. When snow does fall, it rarely lasts long on the ground. Victoria averages just 2-3 days per year with at least 5 cm (2 in) of snow on the ground. The rain shadow effect also means that Victoria gets more sunshine than surrounding areas. With 2,223 hours of sun annually, Victoria is one of the sunniest places in British Columbia, and gets more sunshine than most other cities in Canada except those in the southern Prairies. The benefits of Victoria’s climate are evident through the city’s gardens, which are more likely to display drought-tolerant oak trees, eucalyptus, arbutus, and even bananas, than they are likely to feature evergreen conifers, which are typically associated with the coastal Pacific Northwest environment. Victoria’s equable climate has also added to its reputation as the “City of Gardens”. With its mild temperatures and plentiful sunshine, Victoria boasts gardens that are home to many plant species rarely found elsewhere in Canada. Several species of palms, eucalyptus, and even certain varieties of bananas can be seen growing throughout the area’s gardens. The city takes pride in the many flowers that bloom during the winter and early spring, including crocuses, daffodils, early-blooming rhododendrons, cherry and plum trees. Every February there is an annual “flower count” in what for the rest of the country and most of the province is still the dead of winter. Due to its mild climate, Victoria and its surrounding area (southeastern Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, and parts of the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast) is also home to many rare, native plants found nowhere else in Canada, including Quercus garryana (Garry oak), Arctostaphylos columbiana (Hairy manzanita), and Canada’s only broad leaf evergreen tree, Arbutus menziesii (Pacific madrone). Many of these endangered species exist here at the northern end of their range, and are found as far south as Central and Southern California, and even parts of Mexico.