Today, I'm talking about weather.
The Rocky Mountains line the western boundary of Alberta. On the other side of the mountain range is the province of British Columbia and beyond that, the Pacific Ocean. This environment is ripe for creating unique weather patterns. One of these is called chinooks (aka chinook winds, chinook arches or snow eater), the word is pronounced with a "sh" instead of a "ch" sound.
Chinooks are very active in southern Alberta (approximately 20-30 per year). (I expect this phenominum extends into Montana, but you should look that up for yourself to confirm). These are warming winds that can change the temperature by an incredible amount. In the middle of winter, a chinook could raise the temperature as much as 20 degrees celius in an hour! Snow banks dissolve in its path, which is a great thing to see in winter, but some people experience headaches as a result of the rapid temperature change, which isn't so great for them.
These winds can be incredibly strong, gusting up to 100 km/hr! On those occasions, roads have to be shut down because they can blow trucks off the road and property is damaged. This is particularly problematic on the southern highway that winds along the foothills through the Claresholm area. Calgary has been hit with more severe winds in the last few years too, and has had to close downtown streets due to falling debris from the high rises.
Still, most southern Albertans enjoy chinooks as a warm respite. The melting snow makes it seem that there will be an eventual end to the cold prairie winter. Many Calgary based businesses have "chinook" in their names, such as Chinook Centre, a large shopping mall, which I think shows the good feelings associated with the winds.
|A chinook arch over the Calgary skyline. (Lorraine's Photo)|
Do you have regular or unusual weather events where you live?