“Snow Eater” at Work

After a long, cold spell in December, including an ice storm we have been waiting for this! Chinook winds, a native American word meaning “snow eater.”

The chinook wind is a warm, dry wind that descends the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. The chinook zone is not very wide so you need to be fairly close to the Rockies to get the warm gusty winds.

We are not the only area that see chinook winds. The narrow path begins in northeastern New Mexico northward into Canada.

With a strong chinook as much as a foot of snow can melt in one day. It has many advantages, including clearing our streets of ice and snow. It also uncovers prairie grass so livestock can graze on the open range.  The winds also help keep railroad tracks clear of snow in the winter.

It is not unusual for the strong winds, day after day, to make people feel irritable and depressed while others can become ill. The exact reason for this is not clearly understood.

In the long run it does give us a break in our winter pattern that other areas never get to experience!



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