All about Chinook





The Chinook winds and the Chinook arch are very much a Calgary landmark although not visible every day.

100_1403.jpgCalgary often gets Chinooks, especially during the winter season. Chinooks are winds that are originally air masses off the Pacific coast, they travel over the Rockies and then descend down the eastern slope of the foothills. The winds are warm due to the compressional heating of the air as it sinks.

The Chinook winds are a welcome break from the severe cold that Calgary can often count on during the winter. One of the aspects of  the Chinook Winds is that they blow rapidly and can cause a very quick shift in temperature. Hence the saying "If you don't like the weather in Calgary, wait five minutes".

Another part of the Chinook phenomena is the arch of cloud that is formed in the western sky, appropriately called a Chinook Arch. The picture above is facing West towards the Rockies taken during a spectacular rose tinted sunrise. The tree on the left is a Siberian Larch that has turned color for the autumn season (picture date is October 19, 2005)

Other Chinook type  winds are the Santa Ana wind in the Los Angeles basin, and the Foehn winds that occur in the Swiss Alps.

More Chinook Stuff

Sadly not everyone is familiar with the above mentioned Chinook Winds but there are other things called Chinook.

First, according to Houghton Mifflin, ..."The Chinook Indians lent their name to the chinook(1860), a warm dry wind blowing eastward from the Rocky Mountains. The Chinook salmon (1851), largest of the species, became a prime article of trade in the region......"

Want to know more about Salmon, head over to the Wikipedia page on Salmon.
Want to know more about the Chinook Nation, visit their website.

I have seen some references to suggest the  word "chinook" is translated as "snow eater".  This can be a very accurate description of what happens during an extended chinook.  It seems to really draw the moisture out of the ground.


Off-Loading_Canada_Troops.jpgThe US Army has a helicopter known as the Chinook (Ch -47). Known as the workhorse of the US Army. 

The picture on the right courtesy of shows a Chinook helicopter, transporting Canadian Troops during Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, circa 2003.

On 29 August 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated the City of New Orleans and much of the surrounding area. CH-47 Chinook helicopters from several U.S. Army National Guard units and from the country of Singapore assisted in the disaster relief operation. A few weeks later, Hurricane Rita rain-soaked the already flooded out areas, wreaking further havoc.


A computer program to play checkers called Chinook. Apparently this computer program is in the Guiness Book of World Records for winning a championship. The program was developed at the University of Alberta.

Shopping & Gambling:

Are they really so different? In Calgary we have the Chinook Centre, which bills itself as a premiere shopping & entertainment destination. Look for a page on this soon.

In Lincoln City, Oregon is the Chinook Winds Casino Resort.


There is a breed of dog called the Chinooks. The breed is closely held within the United States. More information on the breed can be found at


Chinook Montana, just south of Alberta is the county seat of Blaine County. You can find out more at .


Chinook Jargon, derived from the extinct Chinookan languages it is a form  of that language used as a contact language, mainly to discuss business (trade). Find out more at .