Extreme weather events are reshaping hydrological cycles across the globe, yet our understanding of the groundwater response to these extremes remains limited. Here we analyze groundwater levels across the South Coast of British Columbia (BC) in the Pacific Northwest with the objective of determining groundwater responses to atmospheric rivers (ARs) and drought. An AR catalogue was derived and associated to local rainfall defining extreme precipitation. Droughts were quantified using dry day metrics, in conjunction with the standardized precipitation index (SPI). From September to January, approximately 40% of total precipitation is contributed by ARs. From April to September, more than 50% of days receive no precipitation, with typically 26 consecutive dry days. We used the autocorrelation structure of groundwater levels to quantify aquifer memory characteristics and identified two distinct clusters. Cluster 1 wells respond to recharge from local precipitation, primarily rainfall, and respond rapidly to both ARs during winter recharge and significant rainfall deficits during summer. Cluster 2 wells are also driven by local precipitation, and are additionally influenced by the Fraser River’s large summer freshet, briefly providing a secondary recharge mechanism to South Coast aquifers. Accordingly, groundwater recessions are offset to later in the summer, contingent on the Fraser River, mediating drought. The results suggest that groundwater memory encapsulates multiple hydrogeological factors, including boundary conditions, influencing the response outcome to extreme events.