Thursday, December 23, 2010

All I want for Christmas is a Chinook

No, not a helicopter.  A warm wind.

Chinooks are quite prevalent across southern Alberta and are known as "snow eaters".  Ordinarily, we may get 5 or 6 of these each winter. We were robbed last winter!  
(They also occur across some parts of Europe and are known as the Mistral winds in France.)

(Click on this to enlarge photo)

It looks like we had one arriving on Tuesday evening - a large warming weather front blows in, 
the sunset highlighting it for us for only about eight minutes.  You have to be quick around here with the camera.

“Those who have not the warm, invigorating Chinook winds of this country, cannot well comprehend what a blessing they are. The icy clutch of winter is lessened, the earth throws off its winding sheet of snow. Humanity ventures forth to inhale the balmy spring like air. Animated nature rejoices.” 
(1900–Calgary weekly Herald)

The cloud formations can look stormy and sinister - but they rarely bring anything other than a welcome rise in the temperature - and sometimes some fierce winds.  
But not today ... so far.

We humans may relish a temporary relief in the depths of a cold winter.  Nature gets mightily confused however, especially the vegetation which thinks "yippee" and may start to bud and leaf out too early, only to be cut down and thwarted as the next hard frost arrives.  
Which it does, sometimes even in June.

Pink must be my colour of the week - the mountains glow an unnatural colour, but I'm loving it.

Happy SkyWatch Friday folks - and a very happy festive weekend to all of you.


  1. I didn't know that the Mistral winds in France are what we call chinooks! How about that.

  2. Lovely photos, especially that last one. I hope you get your Chinook in time for Christmas :-)

  3. When I first moved to Alberta, I was amazed by the Chinook winds. Of course, I'd heard of them when I lived in BC, but actually watching the outdoor thermometer rise at midnight was a new thrill for me. I'll never forget it, unless it becomes one of those things I forget because I forget everything!
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  4. Wow! What gorgeous photos!

    I loved the Chinooks when I lived in Calgary. They completely energised me.

  5. You have some really lovely pictures of the sunsets. I have never heard of the Chinooks, I need to get out more often.. ; )

  6. Nice!

    Merry Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! =)

  7. beautiful sky! I love the drama. and it is always fun to hear about your wild weather and temperature fluctuations.

  8. Wow! Great photos. The edge of the front is clearly defined and the colours are marvelous.

    Have a wonderful holiday!

  9. What gorgeous shots! The skies are amazing!
    I lived in Rycroft ,Cold Lake and Wabumun 30 years ago - never did experience chinooks.

  10. Beautiful Sky Watch posting!

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

    Happy SWF! Have a good weekend,
    Regards, Bram

    My SkyWatch on WordPress

    Seen on Sky Watch Friday, Season 4, Episode 24

  11. amazing clouds and colors!!! Bright blessings to you and your beloveds!

  12. Weather's Chinooken here today (we usually don't have one in any given winter). Spooky, these 40+ deg F temperatures in January!