"Timing has a lot to do with the
outcome of a rain dance.” - Cowboy Proverb
There's an old saying that suits the Chilcotin very well.
"If you don't like the weather now....wait five minutes."
No truer words were ever spoken!
The Chilcotin is mostly made up of high elevation arid plateau
surrounded by mountains. It sits in the rainshadow of the
very new, very high, Coast Mountain Range that wraps around
its western and southern boundary. This means vegetation is
predominately spruce trees, pine trees, wild rose, tough grasses,
kinnickinnick, lichens and moss and not a few tough alpine
plants thrown in. Where snow melts and collects you'll find
meadows of tall sharp leaved grass, willows, aspen, alder
and other buck brush with a few clumps of swamp spruce thrown
in for winter color. The only exception to plants accustomed
to little rainfall is when you drop in elevation within or
near Tweedsmuir and get into rainforest type vegetation.
The Chilcotin is not known for heavy rainfall or snowfall,
although we all have 'those' years. Temperatures in the hottest
part of summer rarely get above 80-85F, but it does happen.
Temperatures in winter used to commonly drop to -50F to -60F
in winter but that's much rarer now. We actually have few
extreme weather events in the Chilcotin, making it easier
to plan a vacation.
Judging what the weather is going to be like in the Chilcotin
requires both skill and imagination. Unfortunately, we have
a very limited number of weather stations reporting in the
area and none that are accessible by the public. The only
accessible stations are Williams Lake, Puntzi Mountain, (Tatlayoko)
and Bella Coola. All of those areas have wildly differing
weather. For example, Williams Lake is in a valley at a lower
elevation, gets very hot in summer, is warmer in winter, and
has much higher humidity than most of the Chilcotin Plateau.
It sits on the eastern terminus of Highway 20 West.
Puntzi is at the other extreme. In fact, it has recorded
one of the lowest temperatures ever for Canada, is at a high
elevation and is consistantly colder in winter and cooler
in summr than Williams Lake or even most stops along Highway
Bella Coola at the western terminus of Highway 20 is more
extreme yet since it sits at sea level on an ocean inlet,
is protected in a deep valley by surrounding mountains, gets
very little snow in winter but can get prodigious amounts
of rain year round. Temperatures there rarely go too much
below freezing, although it happens.
The trick of predicting the weather in the West Chilcotin
is to take weather information from all three reporting stations,
add a little luck and some knowledge of your particular locale,
and guess. We locals are usually much better at predicting
weather for our respective areas than the weathermen are.
So for your convenience, we have posted the weather from all
three reporting stations on the right and you can get a more
indepth and long range forecast by clicking on the link for
each. However, for the purposes of planning your vacation
over the long term, you are probably better off discussing
the optimum times to arrive at your chosen region with local
operators. They will do what they can to predict for you the
best times for the activities you would like to enjoy while
you are here.