Despite the look of this picture of the Glenmore Reservoir in Calgary, this has not been a particularly cold winter. It’s mid-February already and still we haven’t seen -30C (that’s -22, for you ‘Merkans) which is actually pretty good if you’re not a penguin. I suppose I would consider walking on that ice, but I doubt if I’d jump up and down, and I’d certainly leave the Chevy on shore.

Lately it’s been warming up, too. Yesterday we got to 8.2C (45F) officially but we saw 10C (50F) on the dashboard. It was a Chinook (‘snow-eater’) wind yesterday and that ol’ chinook was gobbling up snow left, right and centre. What happens is when the wind blows from the west in the winter it crosses the mountains. As it climbs the front side it dumps its moisture in snow in the mountains. When it flows down the eastern slopes it is dry because it has dumped most of its moisture already, but the very fact that it is descending the leeward slopes causes it to dry out even more.

So what then happens when that warm, dry air blows hard over the prairie snow pack? Evaporation and melting. In especially strong chinook conditions I’ve seen a foot-deep snow pack disappear in a day and a half.

Chinooks are nice. They’re a nice break from winter that many prairie towns don’t enjoy.

I’m a fan.


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