Leo and the Chinook …

1 Feb

Leo and the Chinook

I see that Leo Decapprio is sticking with his story about our Alberta Chinook winds as being proof of ‘Global Warming’. Leo experienced the Chinook phenomenon while The Revenant was being filmed in Alberta last winter.

chinook arch
Sooo, in the interests of Science and public awareness, I will attempt to set the record straight:

Wikipedia says:
Chinook winds /ʃɪˈnʊk/, or simply chinooks, are foehn winds in the interior West of North America, where the Canadian Prairies and Great Plains meet various mountain ranges, although the original usage is in reference to wet, warm coastal winds in the Pacific Northwest.”

Chinook is claimed by popular folk-etymology to mean “ice-eater”, but it is really the name of the people in the region where the usage was first derived. The reference to a wind or weather system, simply “a Chinook”, originally meant a warming wind from the ocean into the interior regions of the Northwest of the USA (the Chinook people lived near the ocean, along the lower Columbia River). A strong Chinook can make snow one foot deep almost vanish in one day. The snow partly melts and partly evaporates in the dry wind. Chinook winds have been observed to raise winter temperature, often from below -20 °C (-4 °F) to as high as 10-20 °C (50-68 °F) for a few hours or days, then temperatures plummet to their base levels. The greatest recorded temperature change in 24 hours was caused by Chinook winds on January 15, 1972, in Loma, Montana; the temperature rose from -48 to 9 °C (-54 to 48 °F).”

chinook arch 2

Some of this information is not quite accurate. Chinooks can easily last a week and I’ve experienced (though rarely) them lasting as long as 2 weeks – or more. The temperature range and change can be great and sudden – spanning an over 80 degree F change in a few hours. They can also occur in any month or season – but are obviously most noticeable in Winter.

chinook arch 3
These images shows a Chinook Arch – a rather spectacular (especially at sunset) and welcome phenomenon – as the clouds are driven by the West winds over the Rocky Mountains and forms these ‘arches’ that can span hundreds of miles from mid Alberta down into the US.

Chinook Tall Tales:

CHINOOK STORIES http://plainshumanities.unl.edu/encyclopedia/doc/egp.fol.006

” … Among the frontier yarns that were spun was the story of the man who hitched his team of horses to a post one snowy evening only to awake the next morning to find his horses dangling from the church steeple. Another often told story describes a horse-drawn sleigh racing a chinook home: as the horses struggled through chest-deep snow, the front runners of the sleigh sloshed through mud while the back runners kicked up dust, Another variant of this story has the man driving the sleigh in front suffering frostbite while his children in back catch sunstroke. … ”

There you go Leo …

Now stop your nonsense!

7 Responses to “Leo and the Chinook …”

  1. Cindy Bruchman February 2, 2016 at 5:53 am #

    Very interesting! Warm winds that can last a couple weeks and reach high temps of 80s–wow!

    • jcalberta February 2, 2016 at 9:15 am #

      No Cindy – they CAN span from -30F to +50F – that’s the 80 degree difference. Rare, but has happened. So you go from freezing to death to balmy barbecue.
      True Story: Brother Bruce and I lived in a top floor apartment of an old house. We had a cold snap – about -30F and our pipes froze. Our sewage then backed up into our bath tub. Not nice. Phoned the landlord. Said he’d come over in the morning with a blowtorch and try to thaw the pipes. But during the night a Chinook rolled in and did the job … and things were back to normal by sun up. YAY Chinook!

      • Cindy Bruchman February 2, 2016 at 9:52 am #

        An unfortunate situation resolved! Yuck and you’re lucky. 🙂

  2. Rick February 2, 2016 at 8:52 am #

    I always wondered how a chinook worked. Thanks for the info.

    • jcalberta February 2, 2016 at 9:17 am #

      I know they get Chinooks in Montana – and quite possibly as far down as Colorado. Might call them a different name though.

  3. Marilyn Armstrong February 3, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

    I enjoyed that. I sort of knew a little about it, but that’s the best explanation I’ve ever gotten. Thanks!!

    • jcalberta February 4, 2016 at 10:26 am #

      We’re lucky in this. We’ve had winters here where I rode my bike all winter. That’s not the norm, and more often we get our share of cold. I hated chinooks when I was a kid because it melted the ice and I wanted to play hockey. This year we’ve got El Nino – so it’s been a mild winter. We’ve been watching the massive blizzards they’ve been getting down East – with no envy.

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