It may surprise some, but Wichita is the largest city in Kansas (most of Kansas City is in Missouri). Surrounded by wheat fields and oil-industry facilities, this traditional Midwestern city has a diverse agricultural and industrial economy. In part because of its invulnerable central U.S. location, World War II aircraft design and production facilities were located in the area. Today aviation firms like Beech, Cessna (Raytheon), Stearman, Lear (Bombardier), and Boeing all have plants nearby, and there are numerous supporting precision parts and engineering firms in the area.
Downtown Wichita has undergone renewal, and the city center has new and attractive parks and a new convention center along the Arkansas River. Arts and entertainment facilities contribute to a strong community feel. The workforce is relatively well-educated and paid, the Cost of Living Index is very reasonable with good housing values to be found. With 170 miles to Tulsa and 190 miles to Kansas City, residents are mainly dependent on local features. The area ranks consistently well in most categories.
Wichita is mainly flat with trees along the river and its tributaries. The climate is continental. Masses of warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico collide with cold, dry air from the Arctic to create a wide range of weather year-round. Summers are usually warm and humid, but can be extremely hot and dry. Winters are usually mild with brief periods of very cold weather and high windchill. Summer temperatures above 90 degrees (F) are common, while winter below-zero highs occur about 2 days per year. Seventy percent of precipitation falls from April through September. The range of annual precipitation is notable, with over 50 inches in wet years and less than 15 in dry years. Thunderstorms occur mainly during spring and early summer with potential for damaging rain, hail, winds, and tornadoes.