Embracing Calgary's Weather
Calgary is just east of the Rocky Mountains, at 1,050 metres (3,445 feet) above sea level. Due to this altitude, the climate is semi-arid. Temperatures are mild compared to most of Canada, and even when it’s cold, it’s usually sunny.
In fact, the sun shines an average of 332 days per year (that’s about 2,300 hours), making Calgary the sunniest major city in the country.
Calgary weather definitely varies. In the summer, the skies are generally blue and temperatures can soar above 30°C (86°F). It usually cools off comfortably at night. From late May through the summer, days are long and nights are short; the sun rises by 6 a.m. and darkness doesn’t settle in until 10 p.m. or later. Golfers love it — there’s time for 18 holes after work.
Autumn can be long and magnificent; spring is a celebration, and winter is usually pleasant by Canadian standards, with temperatures staying in the deep freeze for only a few weeks.
The most distinctive characteristic of a Calgary winter is the chinook: a warm, moist wind from the Pacific Ocean that can raise the temperature by as much as 15°C (60°F) in a few hours. When the grey chinook arch appears in the western sky, the warm wind is about to blow in. Don’t be surprised to see Calgarians breaking out their summer wear during a chinook, which can last anywhere from several hours to a week or more.
Calgarians are prepared for anything — we joke that you can see three seasons in a day. To stay comfortable, it’s all about layering. If you drive, you’ll find yourself using your car heater in the morning and your air conditioning in the afternoon, especially during late winter and early spring.
The toque (pronounced “touk”) is a staple of the Canadian wardrobe. Known elsewhere as a beanie, knitted winter hat or watch cap.
THE BUNNY HUG
The hoodie, or “bunny hug” if you’re from Saskatchewan, as many Calgarians are, is a multi-weather staple. Great for a cool summer evening, essential for under the winter coat during outdoor activities — and Calgarians do get outside no matter what the weather, so a hoodie is an all-season wardrobe must-have.
The most distinctive characteristic of a Calgary winter is the chinook: a warm, moist wind from the Pacific Ocean that can raise the temperature by as much as 15°C (60°F) in a few hours.