Surfing, scuba diving and snowshoeing: making the most of B.C.'s winter

The grim weather isn't likely to go away anytime soon — above normal rain and snow and below normal temperatures are forecast for this winter with the possibility of another La Niña winter, said CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe

Grim winter weather likely here to stay as rain and snow warnings in effect across B.C.

The waves like these in Tofino, B.C., are especially good for surfing during the winter months, says Janice Fraser. (Kevin Drews/The Canadian Press)

With weather warnings in effect across the province from unrelenting rain in the south to snow and freezing rain in sections of the north, it's clear winter weather is here.

The grim weather isn't likely to go away anytime soon; above normal rain and snowfall and below normal temperatures are forecast for this winter with the possibility of another La Niña winter, said CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.

"It's a 65 to 75 per cent chance that we will be in this La Niña through winter and into February so actually a little bit longer than the La Niña that we were in last year," Wagstaffe told CBC host of B.C. Almanac Gloria Macarenko.

Snow began to fall in Metro Vancouver at the beginning of December last year. (West Vancouver Police Department/Twitter)

Embracing the winter

That's good news for skiers, snowshoers and other outdoor enthusiasts but less welcome news for commuters and fans of warmer weather.

There are two options for either camp of British Columbians, said Janice Fraser, managing editor of Destination B.C.

"You either embrace it and put on all your warm layers and head out into the cold to enjoy some of the adventures," Fraser said. "Or you embrace that coziness that you can get from inside."

Retreating to cozy cabins, lounging by fireplaces and venturing out to hot springs are some of the most popular trends for warmer winter activities, she said.

"On the adventurous side — surfing," she said. "Winter is actually some of the best times, the best waves on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, to head out and catch a wave."

The same is true for scuba diving.  

"British Columbia is probably one of the best places in the world for cold water scuba diving and the waters are much clearer at this time of year from November through February," Fraser said.

Snowshoeing is an easy way to transition to outdoor exploration during the winter, says Sam Waddington. (The Happy Camper/Facebook)

Easy transition

Chilliwack councillor Sam Waddington, who also owns Mount Waddington's Outdoors in the city, said he is often asked about accessible outdoor winter sports and where to start.

"A lot of people have gotten into hiking in the last little while and are a little bit more outdoorsy, but trying to bridge the gap into winter can be a challenge," he said. "I would always recommend snowshoeing."

He said snowshoeing is an easy transition to winter hiking because there are lots of marked trails and places that rent snowshoeing equipment for a low cost.

"Pack appropriately, prepare yourself, ease into it," Waddington said. "It's just a whole different world out there in the winter and it's worth exploring."

To hear more from B.C. Almanac, click on the audio link below:

B.C. Non-Profit Housing's Kishone Roy and B.C. Co-op Housing Federation's Thom Armstrong on affordable housing. CBC Meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe, Waddington's Outdoor's Sam Waddington, and Destination B.C.'s Janice Fraser talk about everything winter. 52:54

With files from B.C. Almanac.