What is a Chinook wind?

December 17, 2007 7:26:16 PM PST
Jason Lantz of Wyomissing, PA asks: What is the difference between the Chinook wind and the Katabatic wind? Is the difference merely the geographic location?

Erica's Answer:

Yes, the difference is purely geographic. A katabatic wind is any downsloping wind. A downsloping wind moves from higher elevation to lower elevation. Air that moves from a higher elevation to a lower elevation will get warmer and drier, if no other weather factors change. "Chinooks" are so named for the Chinook Native American tribe, based in the Columbia river basin in the Northwestern United States.

By the way, another geographical name for a katabatic wind is the Santa Ana wind, which is the wind that caused wildfires in southern California in fall of 2007.

- Erica