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Kelowna (/kəˈloʊnə/) is a city on Okanagan Lake in the Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. It serves as the head office of the Regional District of the Central Okanagan. The name Kelowna derives from an Okanagan language term for “grizzly bear”.
Kelowna is the third largest metropolitan area in the province with a population of 194,882, behind only Vancouver and Victoria. It ranks as the 22nd largest in Canada and is the largest city in British Columbia that is located inland. Kelowna’s city propercontains 211.82 square kilometres (81.78 sq mi), and the census metropolitan area contains 2,904.86 square kilometres (1,121.57 sq mi). In 2016, the population of Kelowna consisted of 127,380 individuals occupying 53,903 private dwellings.
Nearby communities include the City of West Kelowna (also referred to as Westbank, Westside) to the west across Okanagan Lake, Lake Country and Vernon to the north, as well as Peachland to the southwest and, further to the south, Summerland and Penticton.
Kelowna is classified as a humid continental climate per the Köppen climate classification system due to its coldest month having an average temperature slightly above −3.0 °C (26.6 °F), with dry, hot and sunny summers, cold, cloudy winters and four seasons. The official climate station for Kelowna is at the Kelowna International Airport, which is at a higher altitude than the city core with slightly higher precipitation and cooler nighttime temperatures. The moderating effects of Okanagan Lake combined with mountains separating most of BC from the prairies moderates the winter climate, but Arctic air masses do occasionally penetrate the valley during winter, usually for very short periods. The coldest recorded temperature in the city was −36.1 °C (−33.0 °F) recorded on 30 December 1968.
Weather conditions during December and January are the cloudiest in Canada outside of Newfoundland thanks to persistent valley cloud. As Okanagan Lake hardly ever freezes, warmer air rising from the lake climbs above colder atmospheric air, creating a temperature inversion which can cause the valley to be socked in by cloud. This valley cloud has a low ceiling however, and often bright sunshine can be experienced by driving only 20 minutes or so up into the nearby mountains, above the cloud. Summers in Kelowna are hot (sometimes extremely hot) and sunny, with daytime temperatures often exceeding 32 °C (90 °F). The hottest recorded temperature at the airport was 39.5 °C (103.1 °F) on 24 July 1994, and the highest temperature ever recorded in the city was 41.0 °C (105.8 °F) in August 1998 near but not at the airport. It is not at all unusual for heat waves to occur in July, August and even June and September on occasion, where temperatures above 30 °C persist for weeks. During summer clear, dry air allows night-time temperatures to fall rapidly. The city averages about 380 millimetres (15 in) of precipitation per year, with about 1/5 of the precipitation falling as snow, the bulk in December and January; however, June is the wettest month of the year.
While some smaller communities such as Blue River and Golden get less wind, Kelowna has the greatest percentage of “calm” wind observations for any major city in Canada (39% of the time). The four-year average wind measured at the airport has been less than 5 knots on average 10/12 months of the year between 2008 and 2011. As shown in the climate chart below, Kelowna has an average high temperature that is above freezing every month of the year – an exceptionally rare phenomenon for a Canadian city that is located inland. In fact, average high temperatures in January surpass those of St. John’s, Newfoundland, which experiences heavy moderation from the warm Atlantic current. Kelowna’s average year-round high temperature of about 14.6 degrees is also one of the highest in Canada – largely thanks to the rare combination of high summer temperatures typical of continental climates, along with relatively mild winters – a very rare feature of a continental climate.
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