"Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow"
- Helen Keller
Many Kamloops residents are transplants from a different place and a significant number of us came to Kamloops from the Prairies, particularly from Saskatchewan. When I ask these former flatlanders what they like most about Kamloops the most common answer is our climate. They certainly are not alone in that opinion. Our most recent citizen satisfaction survey indicated climate as being the number one thing residents liked about Kamloops.
However, this time of year Prairie people have a common complaint. The winter in Kamloops, while relatively mild, is far too cloudy. While they don't miss the cold temperatures, our residents from the Canadian breadbasket certainly miss the accompanying sunshine. Some wax nostalgic over the winter days in Saskatchewan stating they didn't mind the minus 30 degree temperatures because it was so bright and sunny. I, and most others who grew up in Kamloops aren't quite as convinced that we would want to wish away our cloud cover in exchange for bitter cold. Still, we have to acknowledge that our winter weather is often very drab.
So how grey is it? Environment Canada has compiled a database of the one hundred largest cities in Canada and ranked them in a wide variety of categories. It turns out that Calgary has the sunniest winters of any city in Canada with over 366 hours of sunshine. Many other Prairie cities are close behind. At the other end of the scale, Kamloops ranks 85th out of 100 with a mere 197 hours of sunny skies. The rest of the Interior fairs no better. Kelowna and Penticton are 95th and 96th respectively. Even Prince George ranks below us in 90th place. The dividend for Kamloops is that we have the 11th mildest winter in the country and the ten cities that are milder pay for it with a lot more rain. Our average night time low temperature in December, January and February is six below zero. Sunny Winnipeg and Saskatoon average twenty below without the wind chill. Add the 40-50 extreme windchill days most Prairie cities experience over a winter and perhaps the cloud cover becomes a bit more bearable. Still, one has to admit that the days of cloudy skies can grow tedious over time.
Over an entire year, Kamloops fairs a lot better in the sunshine department. We rank 25th out of 100 large Canadian centers with an average of 2,074 hours of sunshine per year. Medicine Hat tops the list with over 2500 hours but Kamloops is a lot sunnier than Kelowna which ranks 56th in the country or Prince George (61st). Vancouver is the greyest of the large cities ranking 67th. Not surprisingly, the cloudiest place of the 100 larger centers is soggy Prince Rupert, which is also the wettest. We seem to concentrate our grey skies into the winter and our sunny skies into the summer. In many respects that's a deal I am prepared to accept.
As winter turns to spring, Kamloops moves up to 26th on the sunshine scale and we have the second mildest spring temperatures in Canada. While the title of mildest Spring weather belongs to Chilliwack, this community ranks 95th for springtime sunshine and is the third wettest city in the nation. Besides milder spring temperatures than the Okanagan, Kamloops has a sunnier spring than Kelowna (41st) and Penticton (39th).
When Summer rolls around, Kamloops really starts to shine. We edge out Penticton for the title of hottest summer of any city in Canada. In addition, we rank second in the country for sunny days in warm months. We are a small fraction of a day behind Portage La Prairie in this department with a lot less mosquitoes.
As Canadians, we really have no business complaining about the Kamloops climate. As far as avoiding the rain, the snow and the extreme cold, Kamloops is about as good as it gets in this country.
So, if the grey weather is getting you down, the other great climate advantage we have in Kamloops is that we can easily escape the most cloudy days with a quick trip into the hills. Unlike equally cloudy cities in Southern Ontario, a short drive to Sun Peaks or Lac LeJeune will often take you out of our cloudy valley and into bright sunshine. It's the perfect cure for a drab day.