What Is A Banana Belt?

Dubois, Wyoming experiences a warmer climate than rest of the state due to its unique geographical location.
Dubois, Wyoming experiences a warmer climate than rest of the state due to its unique geographical location.

There are regions in the world which stand out for receiving less rainfall and warmer weather relative to the surrounding regions. Such areas are known as banana belts and are often found on the sides of mountain ranges which experience the rainshadow effect. Warmer winds descending the mountain slopes are responsible for the warming effect. These warmer temperatures during harsh winters make banana belts attract not only humans but also wild animals such as mule deer which are known to migrate to banana belts in Wyoming in search of pasture. Dubois, Hagerman Valley, and Rapid City are a few examples of banana belts in the United States while Canada is home to banana belts such as Medicine Hat, Victoria, and Melita. While the term is popularly used to describe regions in North America, particularly in the United States and Canada, banana belts are also found in Western Europe.

Banana Belts in the United States

The United States’ interior is home to several banana belts. Much of North Dakota’s southwestern region is also classified as a banana belt as it experiences warmer winters compared to other parts of the state. In Oregon, the state’s South Coast records higher temperatures in winter than other areas of the state making the South Coast another example of a banana belt. The state of Montana also has a banana belt. Neighboring the Purcell Mountains, the State’s Tobacco Valley has the mildest weather in Montana, making the valley a banana belt. Dubois, a town which is sandwiched between two towering mountain ranges, is the best example of a banana belt in Wyoming. Unlike the snow-covered surrounding, Dubois rarely receives snow even during the cold winter months. Southern Idaho is known to have warmer temperatures than the rest of the state, but it is the Hagerman Valley which best portrays a banana belt in Idaho.

Banana Belts in Canada

Canada also has regions which can be termed as banana belts. One example is the country’s warmest metropolitan region, of Greater Victoria and particularly the city of Victoria which has fewer frozen days compared to the surrounding region in British Columbia. Other examples of regions in Canada which qualify to be banana belts are Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, both found in the province of Alberta. The two areas experience warmer winters relative to the surrounding region in Alberta, and this is caused by the Chinook Winds. These winds which are found in the interior parts of North America have a warming effect on the regions and are thought to be derived from the phrase “ice-eater.” Other banana belts in Canada include Ontario’s Essex County and Windsor, Manitoba’s Melita, and the Gulf Islands situated in British Columbia’s Strait of Georgia.

Banana Belts as Tourist Sites

Due to the absence of snow during the winter, banana belts make a great location to conduct outdoor activities during the cold winter months. Tobacco Valley and Dubois have been packaged as a tourist destination for outdoor activities during the winters and attract thousands of visitors each year. Some of the activities carried out on banana belts include hiking, horse riding, nature walks, and bike riding.


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