It snowed 11 cm today at my home in Calgary on October 23, 2012. That’s about 4 inches for those of you on the old scale. It’s enough to make you can huff and puff shoveling the driveway and sidewalk. It’s enough to turn a 25 minute commute into an 80 minute crawl.
And it’s not out of the ordinary.
There has been snow on the ground in every month of the calendar year over Calgary’s history. Our first year in the city saw snow on the ground in 10 different months. It first snowed mid-September, and it was still on the ground the day of my son’s 3rd birthday party on June 1.
After facing the first snow falls, then the bitter cold and a long feeling of winter, things don’t get better once spring rolls around. While the rest of Canada is waking up to a new season in March and April, Calgary is actually experiencing the snowiest months of the year.
Looking over a 30 year average you’ll see that why the city averages no snowfall in June, July, and August, every other month does feature a considerable dump. 21cm is expected in March, 15cm in April, and 10cm can fall on the ground well past Mother’s Day. Still, despite all that snow, there’s only a 59% chance for snow to be on the ground for Christmas.
The only good thing about snow in Calgary is that it’s usually gone as quickly as it arrives. The dry air is ripe to suck up the moisture from the ground, especially if a chinook blows in from the mountains.
The chinooks make life interesting. When Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988, the February 13 Opening Ceremony saw temperatures in the low 20s and event facilities covered in artificial snow.
The snowfall this year allowed Nakiska to set October 26, 2012 as their opening date for downhill skiing. That is the earliest opening date for any ski resort in Canada. Ever. Yes, it snows in Calgary all year round.