A banana belt is any segment of a larger geographic region that enjoys warmer weather conditions than the region as a whole, especially in the wintertime. The term "banana belt" is broad enough that it can be used to describe everything from the entire Antarctic Peninsula, to the southern part of American midwest states, to microclimate areas of mountain ranges.
Banana belts of the latter type may form on the lee sides of mountain slopes caused by orographic lift. When air rises over the top of a mountain range, it cools and releases moisture on the windward slope. As the air is pulled down the other side, it is compressed and heated via adiabatic heating, and it warms and dries territory in the mountain's rain shadow.
North American examples of "banana belts" include:
- Rapid City, South Dakota, in the Black Hills.
- Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory.
- Windsor and Essex County in Ontario
- The Niagara Peninsula in Ontario.
- The southern Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia in British Columbia
- Menominee, Escanaba, and Manistique in the banana belt of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
- Sausalito, California has a small banana belt region located in the hillside which is said to escape the fog and rain of the San Francisco and southern Marin County areas.
- The Arkansas River Valley, Colorado located in the Rocky Mountains, east of the Continental Divide and below the Sawatch Range of 14,000 foot peaks, is often referred to as a "banana belt". It includes the towns of Leadville, Buena Vista, Salida, Parkdale, Canon City to Pueblo, Colorado.
- The portion of the Oregon Coast region south of Port Orford is known as "Oregon's Banana Belt" because of its mild climate in relation to the rest of the coast. The largest communities in this region are Brookings-Harbor and Gold Beach.
- Melita in Manitoba.
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