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The province is the namesake of the Alberta clipper, a type of intense, fast-moving winter storm that generally forms over or near the province and pushed with great speed by the continental polar jetstream descends over the rest of Southern Canada and the northern tier of the United States.In the summer, the average daytime temperatures range from around 21 °C (70 °F) in the Rocky Mountain valleys and far north, up to around 28 °C (82 °F) in the dry prairie of the southeast.

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There are three large lakes, Lake Claire (1,436 km (451 sq mi)), and Lake Athabasca (7,898 square kilometres (3,049 sq mi)) which lies in both Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The longest river in the province is the Athabasca River which travels 1,538 km (956 mi) from the Columbia Icefield in the Rocky Mountains to Lake Athabasca.

The province extends 1,223 km (760 mi) north to south and 660 km (410 mi) east to west at its maximum width.

Its highest point is 3,747 m (12,293 ft) at the summit of Mount Columbia in the Rocky Mountains along the southwest border while its lowest point is 152 m (499 ft) on the Slave River in Wood Buffalo National Park in the northeast.

Most of the northern half of the province is boreal forest, while the Rocky Mountains along the southwestern boundary are largely forested (see Alberta Mountain forests and Alberta-British Columbia foothills forests).

The southern quarter of the province is prairie, ranging from shortgrass prairie in the southeastern corner to mixed grass prairie in an arc to the west and north of it.

The region, with its proximity to Canada's largest oil fields, has most of western Canada's oil refinery capacity.

Calgary is located approximately 280 km (170 mi) south of Edmonton and 240 km (150 mi) north of Montana, surrounded by extensive ranching country.

Average high temperatures in January range from 0 °C (32 °F) in the southwest to −24 °C (−11 °F) in the far north.

The climate is also influenced by the presence of the Rocky Mountains to the southwest, which disrupt the flow of the prevailing westerly winds and cause them to drop most of their moisture on the western slopes of the mountain ranges before reaching the province, casting a rain shadow over much of Alberta.

Alberta has a humid continental climate with warm summers and cold winters.