Chinook winds are an amazing weather phenomenon that involves the rapid appearance of warm, dry high-pressure winds in the winters which cause shocking temperature increases.
How do these winds develop?
The only two things that are needed for Chinook winds to develop areocean air that is moist and mountains. They specifically appear towards the Rocky Mountain range towards North America. The air mass cools as it goes up into the mountain and brings snow and rain. The dry air mass after all the snow and rainfall moves down to the eastern side of the mountains. This dry air mass rapidly warms up and becomes even drier than it originally was coming from the ocean. These winds suddenly change their direction towards the southwest or the west, these Chinook winds rise speedily.
Hot and turbulent winds play havoc with the temperature
Chinook winds are as hot as 50 degrees Fahrenheit and are quite warmer than the winds they have displaced. As these winds blow the temperature also rises rapidly. In the year 1962, thanks to Chinook air, the temperature of Alberta, Canada rose up to sweltering 41 degrees, and that too within an hour.
Why are these winds called Chinook?
The name comes from the name of indigenous people who resided near the lower side of the Columbia River. Chinookan people lived in the present-day Washington and Oregon region. This weather phenomenon is also known as “Snow Eater” as it can” eat” a foot of snow in one single day. They are known by different names in different parts of the world. In the European Alps, they are known as Foehn, in Central Asia, they are known as Afganet. Even in America, the winds are known as “Santa Ana winds” in southern California.
The disastrous effect of the Chinook winds
Chinook winds have a deep impact on the vegetation. It makes soil loses its moisture and also mass as high speeding winds carry it away. All vegetation that is hibernating because of cold winter suddenly are shaken up and can be dehydrated due to extreme fluctuation in the temperatures. They also impact the fauna that is hibernating in the winter under the insulating sheet of snow. The worst of all is the wildfires that are started due to arid and warm climate. These wildfires are disastrous not only for wildlife and nature but for humans too. There are also increased cases of migraines and strokes.
Have you ever experienced Chinook winds?