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In Alberta, the winters are often harsh and unforgiving, but there is one event that warms the spirits of Albertans in the lee of the Rocky Mountains. This event is the chinook, or its much deserving nickname, the "snow eater".
A Chinook is a warm dry air flow originating from the Pacific Ocean. When warm air comes off the Ocean, it is saturated with moisture. Upon arrival to the Coastal Mountains, the air is deflected upward and the moisture is lost due to condensation and expansion at higher altitudes in the form of rain or snow. The air is cool and dry as it reaches the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains and when it loses altitude, the air mass compresses (heats the air) and picks up great momentum. the momentum is transformed into wind speeds of awesome velocity as it sweeps across the treeless plains and challenges the longevity of the snow covering the land.
This most wondrous
event is characterized by an arch of dark altostratus clouds above a light
band of sky.