Montana's Chinook Winds Allow Unusual Winter Activities

By By Vickie Frantz, Staff Writer
January 31, 2012, 10:42:55 AM EST

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Chinook winds that race down the east side of the Rocky Mountains in Montana can travel at speeds up to 100 mph and raise the air temperature by 25 to 35 degrees F in a matter of minutes.

The name Chinook is an American Indian word that is translated as "snow-eater." The wind that races along can be as warm as 60 degrees F. Snow in the path of the Chinook winds is known to melt rapidly.

The warmer air makes it possible for the residents of some Montana and South Dakota towns to participate in some non-winter activities.

"Wash all the grime off the cars. Clean the mud that's run onto the patio. Clean the gutters of all broken branches from the snow. Cut some ditches to allow all the water to run off your property," forum user ElkHunter posted. "And then, when you're done with that, you can do something you enjoy from 4:30-5."

Others on wrote about washing cars, riding bikes or motorcycles, jogging with less clothes or strolling around the city.

The effects of the Chinook winds are not always pleasant. The strong winds can damage buildings, trees and even blow windows out of vehicles.

The rapidly melting snow can cause temporary flooding problems.

The Chinook winds also occur east of the Sierra Nevada, east of the Cascade Range in North America and at the interior of Alaska.


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