Ottawa has a humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb) with four distinct seasons. The average July maximum temperature is 26 °C (79 °F). The average January minimum temperature is −15.3 °C (4.5 °F).
Summers are warm and humid in Ottawa. Daytime temperatures of 30 °C (86 °F) or higher are commonplace. Ottawa averages many days with humidex (combined temperature & humidity index) between 30 °C (86 °F) and 40 °C (104 °F) annually.
Snow and ice are dominant during the winter season. Ottawa receives about 235 centimetres (93 in) of snowfall annually. Days well above freezing and nights below −30 °C (−22 °F) both occur in the winter. High wind chills are common, with annual averages 14 days with wind chills below −30 °C (−22 °F).
Spring and fall are variable, prone to extremes in temperature and unpredictable swings in conditions. Hot days above 30 °C (86 °F) have occurred as early as April (as in 2002) or as late as September, as well as snow well into May and early in October (although such events are extremely unusual and brief).
Average annual precipitation averages around 940 millimetres (37 in). Ottawa receives an average of 915 mm (36.0 in) of total precipitation a year. There are about 2,060 hours of average sunshine annually (47% of possible)
Neighbourhoods and outlying communities
Ottawa is bounded on the east by the United Counties of Prescott and Russell; by Renfrew County and Lanark County in the west; on the south by the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville and the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry; and on the north by the Regional County Municipality of Les Collines-de-l'Outaouais and the City of Gatineau. Modern Ottawa is made up of eleven historic townships, ten of which are from Carleton County and one from Russell.
The city has a main urban area but there are many other urban, suburban and rural areas within the modern city's limits. The main suburban area extends a considerable distance to the east, west and south of the centre,and includes the former cities of Gloucester, Nepean and Vanier, the former village of Rockcliffe Park and the community of Blackburn Hamlet, the community of Orléans. The Kanata suburban area consists of Kanata and the former village of Stittsville. Nepean is another major suburb which also includes Barrhaven and the former village of Manotick. There are also the communities of Riverside South on the other side of the Rideau River, and Greely, southeast of Riverside South.
There are a number of rural communities (villages and hamlets) that lie beyond the greenbelt but are administratively part of the Ottawa municipality. Some of these communities are Burritts Rapids; Ashton; Fallowfield; Kars; Fitzroy Harbour; Munster; Carp; North Gower; Metcalfe; Constance Bay and Osgoode and Richmond. There are also a number of towns located within the federally-defined National Capital Region but outside the city of Ottawa municipal boundaries, these include the urban communities of Almonte, Carleton Place, Embrun, Kemptville, Rockland, and Russell.
Cityscape and infrastructure
Influenced by government structures, much of the city's architecture tends to be formalistic and functional. However, the city is also marked by Romantic and Picturesque styles of architecture such as the Parliament Building's gothic revival architecture. Ottawa's domestic architecture is dominated by single family homes. There are also smaller numbers of semi-detached, rowhouses, and apartment buildings. Most domestic buildings are clad in brick, with small numbers covered in wood or stone. The Ottawa skyline has remained conservative in skyscraper height throughout the years due to a skyscraper height restriction. The restrictions were originally implemented to keep Parliament Hill and the Peace Tower at 92.2 metres (302 ft) visible from most parts of the City. Today, several buildings are slightly taller than the Peace Tower, with the tallest located on Albert Street being the 29-storey Place de Ville (Tower C) at 112 metres (367 ft). Federal buildings in the National Capital Region are managed by Public Works Canada, while most of the federal land in the region is managed by the National Capital Commission; its control of much undeveloped land gives the NCC a great deal of influence over the city's development.
The current public transit system is operated by OC Transpo, a department of the city. An integrated hub-and-spoke system of services is available consisting of: regular buses travelling on fixed routes in mixed traffic, typical of most urban transit systems; a bus rapid transit (BRT) system — a high frequency bus service operating on the transitway — a network of mostly grade-separated dedicated bus lanes within their own right-of-way and having full stations with Park & Ride facilities further supported by on-road reserved bus lanes and priority traffic signal controls; a light rail transit (LRT) system known as the O-Train operating on one north-south route; and a door-to-door bus service for the disabled known as ParaTranspo. Both OC Transpo and the Quebec-based Société de transport de l'Outaouais (STO) operate bus services between Ottawa and Gatineau. Currently, Ottawa has a 12.5 km light-rail metro up for tender while Gatineau is building its own BRT called the Rapibus.
Ottawa is served by a number of airlines that fly into the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport, as well as two main regional airports Gatineau-Ottawa Executive Airport, and Ottawa/Carp Airport. The city is also served by inter-city passenger rail service at the Ottawa Train Station by Via Rail, and inter-city bus service operating out of the Ottawa Bus Central Station.
Highways, streets and roads
The capital city of Canada is also served by a network of freeways, the main one being provincial Highway 417 (called The Queensway), Ottawa-Carleton Regional Road 174 (formerly Provincial Highway 17), and Highway 416 (Veterans' Memorial Highway), connecting Ottawa to the rest of the 400-Series Highway network in Ontario. Highway 417 is also the Ottawa portion of the Trans-Canada Highway. The city also has several scenic parkways (promenades), such as Colonel By Drive, Queen Elizabeth Driveway, the Ottawa River Parkway, Rockcliffe Parkway and the Aviation Parkway and has a freeway connection to Autoroute 5 and Autoroute 50, in Gatineau. In 2006, the National Capital Commission completed work on the long-discussed Confederation Boulevard, a ceremonial route linking key attractions in National Capital Region on both sides of the Ottawa River, in Ottawa as well as Gatineau, Quebec.
Bicycle and pedestrian pathways
There are numerous paved multi-use trails that wind their way through much of the city, including along the Ottawa River, Rideau River, and Rideau Canal. These pathways are used for transportation, tourism, and recreation. Because most streets either have wide curb lanes or bicycle lanes, cycling is a popular mode of transportation in the region throughout the year. There are over 220 kilometeres of paths located throughout the Ottawa-Gatineau region. A downtown street that is restricted to pedestrians only, Sparks Street was turned into a pedestrian mall in 1966. On July 10, 2011 Ottawa saw its first dedicated, segregated bike lanes in the down town core. The lane is separated from car traffic by a low concrete barrier with many gaps to allow for loading and unloading of people and goods. Ottawa's cycling advocacy group, Citizens for Safe Cycling, has been actively promoting safer cycling infrastructure in the community since 1984. On Sundays (since 1960) and selected holidays and events additional avenues and streets are reserved for pedestrian and/or bicycle uses only. In May 2011, The NCC introduced the Bixi Bike rental program.