Hijacking the Winds of Change

Guest post by Jim Steele

published in the Pacifica Tribune February 25, 2020

What’s Natural


Low-tech weathervanes have provided farmers with sage weather advice. If winds were coming from the north, temperatures would be colder than normal; if from the south, temperatures would be warmer. Most fascinating, if winds descended down a mountain slope, they could expect fluctuating extreme weather, with temperatures bouncing between extreme warmth and cold. Across the globe, local downslope winds cause dramatic weather changes and so are given special names such as Chinooks or Foehn winds.

In the western USA, warm dry winter winds descending from the Rocky Mountains are called Chinooks. Because chinooks can melt a foot of snow in one day, Native American Blackfeet people called chinooks “snow-eaters”. Long before it became fashionable to blame warm events on CO2 global warming, standard physics explained extreme warming events. When moist winds are forced over a mountain range, the water vapor condenses at higher elevations releasing precipitation as well as latent heat that warms the air. Then as the winds descend, the air further warms by 5.5°F for every 1000-foot drop in elevation.

For a historical perspective, read the peer-reviewed account of the “Battle of the Chinook Wind at Havre, Montana”. In December 1933 the onset of Chinook winds raised temperatures 27°F in just 5 minutes, and over the next 36 hours temperatures rose by 53°F. When the Chinooks relaxed, typical cold winter air returned, and temperatures fell 40°F in just 2 hours. Montana is a local hot spot for extreme Chinooks. The world record for the greatest warming in 24 hours happened January 1972, just 60 miles away from Havre, as temperatures jumped 103°F (−54 °F to 49 °F).


Such dramatic warming in winter seems unbelievable, but the laws of physics steadfastly state increasing pressure increases temperature without adding heat. As air moves down slope and compresses, it warms. Amazingly, tribes from Borneo to the Philippines beneficially applied the physics of warming long ago. They started fires by rapidly compressing air in a tube. Many modern backpackers carry a similar device called a “fire piston”.

When downslope winds warm and dry the air, they also drive major wildfires. In southern California these periodic wind events are called the Santa Anas, or the Diablo winds in northern California. These rapidly warming wind events dry out grasses and twigs in just a few hours making them easily ignited even in winter. Simultaneously those winds fan the flames, rapidly spreading the fire. A 1960s government report warned those winds made California vulnerable to fire all year long.

In the Swiss Alps, these downslope winds are called foehn winds. And similarly, due to foehn winds fire season in some Swiss valleys peak in the cooler months of March and April. In southeastern Australia where bushfires recently devastated the land, large fires are more likely downslope of the local “Australian Alps” due to foehn-like winds. When human ignitions and poorly managed forests coincide with foehn events, deadly conflagrations ensue.

Antarctica doesn’t experience wildfires, but foehn winds bring extreme temperatures and melt ice. Unlike most of Antarctica, the Esperanza weather station is uniquely situated between cold winds blowing from the continent that battle warm subtropical winds from the north. It is also located in a regional hot spot for foehn winds. On February 6, 2020, a foehn wind raised Esperanza’s normal 32°F summer temperatures to 64.9°F in just 6 hours. A record for the continent but much below nearby Signy Island’s 1982 record of 67.6°F, also driven by foehn winds. Twelve hours after the foehn wind relaxed, the cold winds returned dropping Esperanza’s temperatures back to its normal 32°F. Similar foehn wind events are implicated in the collapse of that region’s Larsen B ice shelf.


Climate change requires 30+ years to detect, but the sharp spike in Antarctic warming came and went over a period of hours. But talking heads mistakenly blamed the warm event on climate change, despite the region’s 2 decade long cooling trend. MSNBC interviewed New York Times reporter Kendra Pierre-Louis, who claimed Esperanza’s extreme temperature verified that climate “models are right” so we must “rein in our greenhouse gas emissions”. But nobody ever mentioned the warming was a natural foehn event. Nor did they mention that the only way to prevent such dramatic warming from foehn events, would require leveling all the mountains of the world. Looking more ill-informed, when Kendra stated this event was “not great for the animals that live in Antarctica”, MSNBC flashed a photo of polar bears.

Instead of informing the public about the science behind these amazing wind effects, they’ve hijacked natural warm weather events to create sensational and misleading climate crisis stories. The public should demand more rigorous scientific reporting!

Jim Steele is Director emeritus of San Francisco State’s Sierra Nevada Field Campus and authored Landscapes and Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

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February 26, 2020 2:14 pm

I fear that H0mo Retardus has almost achieved evolutionary status, as evidenced by that MNSBC interview.
(It’s an inescapable result of the “Anthropocene”)

Donald Boughton
Reply to  Mr.
February 26, 2020 2:42 pm

I would have said Homo Cretinus which is evolutionary adaptation caused by the complete absence of science education. Very common among UK politicians and UK mainstream media reporters especially the BBC.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  Donald Boughton
February 27, 2020 1:05 am

I would say that some UK News outlets are out BBCing the BBC. The Daily Mail and ITN for example.

Reply to  Ben Vorlich
February 27, 2020 2:23 am

And when better informed and wiser people call them on their idiocy they just get angry.
Dunning Krueger combined with massive self belief and entitlement.

Reply to  Mr.
February 26, 2020 2:48 pm

Lower and lower “qualified” individuals seem to be occupying visible positions not only in media today (as evidence above) but also in government on account of the same low caliber of individual performing the “check” role (re: checks and balance) on said govt …

February 26, 2020 2:16 pm

Thank you Jim. I was looking for a rational explanation for this event widely misreported here by Australia’s activist publicly funded ABC and SBS networks.

Komrade Kuma
Reply to  David
February 26, 2020 2:48 pm

ditto from me.

I thought it must be a load of crap just from who was ‘reporting’ it but had not considered the how and why.

As it happens, I have a 20 yo daughter who is full on green-woke etc and who gave me a climate alarmist book for Christmas. Out of respect for my otherwise intelligent child I have been grinding my way through the thing and taking some notes as to my upcoming, very long epistle to her explaining precisely what a load of tosh so much of it is. This episode will feature a paragraph or two thanks to Jim.

Reply to  Komrade Kuma
February 26, 2020 3:18 pm

Are you managing to have civil discussions with your youngster KK ?
I can’t even pose an incontroversial question to mine without getting a factless rant in response 😦

Reply to  Mr.
February 26, 2020 3:35 pm

The 170(ish) year public education experiment of child concentration day camps has failed. If you care about your children’s future, you should consider removing them from the propaganda source.

Don Perry
Reply to  Komrade Kuma
February 26, 2020 6:12 pm

Just a word of caution from personal experience. Many years ago, just after I had finished my masters in biology, my wife and I were invited to my older brother’s house for Thanksgiving. Having been away for 4 years of military service, followed by 5 years of school, I had no idea that he had gotten deeply involved in a fundamentalist sect enamored with creation “science”. After dinner, he handed me a short booklet that was obviously about creation science, asked me to read it and give him my opinion of it. I told him I’d rather not, as I didn’t want to be disagreeable. He insisted, stating he valued my biologically-educated opinion. So, I read it and found its basic premise faulty in its reliance on a faulty use of thermodynamic principles. After finishing it, he pushed me hard for an opinion and I told him the entire booklet was faulty logic because it was based upon a faulty initial premise. An emotional lecture followed in which I was asked if I “believe” in evolution, to which I retorted that evolution was a basic tenet of modern biology. The figurative explosion that followed included calling me a “tool of Satan” and that I was “going to hell” and was swiftly escorted from his home. We didn’t speak for more than ten years and, to this day, I refuse to engage in any conversation with him concerning anything of any consequence. Take heed! If someone has been brainwashed in climate alarmism, it is likely to be equally as consequential.

Reply to  Don Perry
February 27, 2020 7:03 am

“Evolution is a basic tenent of modern biology” 🤔

Reply to  Don Perry
February 27, 2020 9:31 am

Sad story, Don. Cultists almost never realize they are in a cult (and climate-alarmism is a cult on a massive scale).

Lonny Eachus
February 26, 2020 2:18 pm

In large swaths of the Northwest, a “Chinook wind” is simply a winter wind that causes the snow to sublimate away. It has little to do with descending mountainsides or warming.

In fact Chinooks are often most noticeable in the coldest parts of winter, when cold wind causes the snow to sublimate yet it’s far below 0ºC.

John Tillman
Reply to  Lonny Eachus
February 26, 2020 2:34 pm

A Chinook was originally a warm, wet wind from the Pacific, such as the Pineapple Express, which both melts snow and adds rain. Recent flooding in my native Umatilla County is a classic example.

The opposite was a Walla Walla, a cold dry wind from the east, such as those which snap ice-laden winds in Portland in winter, aided by the Venturi tube of the Columbia Gorge.

Chinooks lived along the lower Columbia, but their trade jargon was the lingua franca of Pacific NW tribes and settlers even into the 20th century.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 2:36 pm

Meant snapped “tree branches”, not winds. Writing while WhatsApping.

Gord in Calgary
Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 3:17 pm

I suppose we can’t have our Chinook without you fellows having your Chinook first. But in the dictionary ours comes first!

1. Also called: snow eater
a warm dry southwesterly wind blowing down the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains
2. Also called: wet chinook
a warm moist wind blowing onto the Washington and Oregon coasts from the sea

John Tillman
Reply to  Gord in Calgary
February 26, 2020 3:27 pm

The Chinooks lived on the Lower Columbia in OR and WA, so we win. Any history of the Pacific NW would suffice.

The Rocky Mtn. states and provinces clearly adapted and adopted the term from the NW. Chinook and Walla Walla winds were in use before there were any settlers on the Great Plains.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  John Tillman
February 27, 2020 3:46 am

John, you probably should have mentioned the fact that Chinook and Walla Walla winds get their names from native American Indian tribes that live/lived in the Pacific northwest.

If similar winds regularly occurred on the eastern face of the Allegheny Mountains they would/might be called Cherokee or Seneca winds. 😊

Reply to  John Tillman
February 27, 2020 9:38 am
Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  John Tillman
February 28, 2020 3:23 am

Right on, Beng135, …. and there is the Kanawha (Kana wah ha) River in WV.

Reply to  Lonny Eachus
February 26, 2020 2:48 pm

Lonny, I am not sure why my reply did not get posted, but you are incorrect. FOr a hundred years Chinooks have referred to downslope foehn winds. Please read the links in the article

Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 2:54 pm

In German, fohn with umlaut o means hairdryer.

Reply to  Scissor
February 26, 2020 3:03 pm

It means both, b’cause the hairdryer normally uses hot / warm air.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 26, 2020 3:22 pm

I answered the foehn and all I could hear was heavy breathing.

Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 27, 2020 3:05 am

If you look at the etymology of the word, you will find out, Föhn has a Latin origin,
vulgärlat. *faonius aus lat. (ventus) favonius „lauer Westwind“,
And you see, the hairdryer got his name from the warm westwind, announcing springtime.
So stop hot breathing 😀

Reply to  Scissor
February 27, 2020 1:35 am

In Finland it´s ö, föhn. Sounds like “o” in word and “i” in bird. You know, bird is a word.

Reply to  F1nn
February 27, 2020 9:55 am

Yes, bird is indeed the word:


John Tillman
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 3:38 pm

Nope. You’ve conflated the Blackfoot term for the mountain falling winds with the origin of the term “Chinook”, which was picked up by settlers on the Great Plains and in the Rockies from previous settlers in the NW. The Blackfoot didn’t call the foehn a Chinook.

This says first use in print was 1860, but in fact it was in common parlance in the region at least by 1852, when my ancestors arrived, and probably from fur trading days.


John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 4:07 pm

So you could say that Rocky Mt. state and province settlers “hijacked” an existing BC/OR/WA/ID/western MT term to describe a different phenomenon.

But great article. I’d also not have restricted “föhn” to Switzerland. It’s used throughout the German-speaking Alps. I first heard it in Austria in 1973. Another minor quibble.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 4:13 pm

Different phenomenon but with same result, ie melting snow. Flooding is worse in the NW however because of accompanying rain. Famous Vanport Flood of 1948 a good example.

In case any readers are unfamiliar with Western American history, the fur trading era was roughly 1790, when CPT Grey discovered the Columbia, to 1840, the year of the last rendezvous, when beaver hats went out of fashion.

Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 10:15 pm

In Boulder, Colorado the downslope winds can reach 90 to 100 mph, and are sometimes called mountainados. Back in the 1970s when I worked for NOAA and lived in Boulder, our next door neighbor’s roof was blown off and landed in our back yard. During another downslope wind event, a spindly, easily bendable aluminum filament from the same neighbor’s TV antenna came right through the wall of our house.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  John Tillman
February 27, 2020 4:16 am

And to add a little bit of “tripe & piffle” ……

In case any readers are unfamiliar with Western American history, the fur trading era was roughly 1790, when CPT Grey discovered the Columbia (River),

But don’t forget, ….. the Russian fur traders arrived in the Pacific Northwest (Alaska and BC) in 1784.

In 1784, Grigory Ivanovich Shelikhov arrived in Three Saints Bay on Kodiak Island, operating the Shelikhov-Golikov Company.

“HA”, first fur trader in the Northwest …… and first cosmonaut in space. ☹

Reply to  John Tillman
February 28, 2020 11:00 am

Samuel, I’ll one up your “tripe & piffle”. I don’t know anyone in the Northwest that considers Alaska as part of the Northwest so from that perspective the Russians were not the first fur traders in the Northwest….

Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 4:08 pm

John, Assuming you are addressing my last post,

I never claimed the Blackfeet people who live on the east side of the Rockies called those winds Chinooks. I only said they called those winds “snow eaters”.

However I do claim that the term Chinook has been used for the past 100 years to describe the warn dry foehn winds. That is exemplified by the report I linked to in the “Battle of the Chinook Wind at Havre, Montana” published in the Monthly Weather Review.

Although it is of some historical interest to quibble about the origins of the word Chinook winds it is irrelevant for this article. For modern day purposes, Chinooks now refer to foeh winds, as illustrated by the AccuWether illustration in the article.

John Tillman
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 4:19 pm

Chinook refers both to warm wet winds in the PNW and, incorrectly, to the Rocky Mt. föhn. That the term has been wrongly used for a century doesn’t make it right.

In any case, your claim of hundreds of years is clearly false, which is why I mentioned the Blackfoot term you cited.

I don’t care what Accuweather says. Talk to any state meteorologist in the PNW. Here a Chinook is a warm moist wind from the Pacific. We have priority. Accuweather should use the Blackfoot term.

John Tillman
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 4:36 pm

Weather reports from decades before the Havre instance show the correct use. By the ‘30s, eastern MT had hijacked the PNW term. So what? That doesn’t make it correct.

The great floods of the second half of the 19th century in the PNW, CA and NV were rightly attributed to real Chinooks.


The 1889 NV flood might have been a föhn off the Sierra Nevadas. I haven’t studied it. But the 1862 Great Flood was caused by a genuine Chinook, off the Pacific.

John Tillman
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 4:45 pm

You mention a century. I give you millennia:


And as for the 1930s, I’ll see your MT reference and raise this earlier source:


Besides which, more people live in the PNW than Alberta, eastern MT, WY and CO, so yet again, we win.

Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 4:52 pm


You are truly a curmudgeon. Language is always evolving. and we must adapt. The important thing to embrace is how we can best communicate. The purpose of this article is to inform people why we experience rapid and extreme weather changes.

Your purpose is to argue that it is only your word usage is correct and everyone else’s wrong. You are only confusing people about the critical weather dynamics of extreme events in order to set yourself up as the “superior person”. I suggest you get a life.

John Tillman
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 4:54 pm

I see that even the alarmists at AccuWeathee recognize the origin of the term “Chinook winds”:


John Tillman
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 5:04 pm


I suggest you study the history of meteorology. “Chinook” hasn’t evolved to mean a Rocky Mt. föhn exclusively.

In the region of its origin, a Chinook is still a Chinook. Do you really think that millions of PNWerners are wrong and you are right?

Now a real Chinook can become a Rocky Mt. “Chinook” if it continues blowing east and dries out, then falls. To what I object is Easterners hijacking our historical term.

I don’t know what your life is like, but mine is great. Maybe you should get one, although I admire your posts here.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 27, 2020 4:34 am

Forgot to add Alaska, which also uses the original definition of Chinook:

Now boys, (John & Jim) ……. if you want to use the “ original definition of Chinook winds” ….. I suggest you find a really, really old Chinook Indian and ask him/her what the definition is.

Reply to  Jim Steele
February 27, 2020 4:51 am

My understanding is, on the one side of the mountains, while climbing up, the wind, Chinok, cools down and it rains a lot, flooding in some cases the region. Over the top of the mountains, there you have the downslope warm wind, also called foehn as description of the phenomenon. So, the Chinook is both, rainy upwind, dray warm downwind.

Reply to  Jim Steele
February 27, 2020 10:02 am

Jim Steele — unfortunately some people are just annoying/boring word-Na*is.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Lonny Eachus
February 26, 2020 4:50 pm

Total nonsense, Lonny. Ranchers in Alberta Canada could ride a horse in and out of temperatures below zero and into warm air well above zero at the boundaries of chinooks.

Google it for goodness sakes. You have the worlds library at your fingertips! This site isn’t kind to people that choose to remain ignorant. Checkout the woke- marxist wikipedia if you don’t trust non lefty sites. Forget the “talking points” and do a little research on your own

James Donald Bailey
February 26, 2020 2:20 pm

I’m sorry, but you have the laws of physics wrong.
R and n are constants, but P, V and T are variables.
You can play around by holding one variable constant.
But that play is not the law.

James Donald Bailey
Reply to  James Donald Bailey
February 26, 2020 2:23 pm

My mistake. n can also be variable.

Tim Gorman
Reply to  James Donald Bailey
February 27, 2020 12:18 pm

PV = nRT is true for an ideal gas.

The Earth’s atmosphere, when considered as a whole, is far from an ideal gas. The mere presence of water vapor will ruin the assumption of an ideal gas all by itself.

Joe Campbell
Reply to  Tim Gorman
February 27, 2020 12:45 pm

Actually, not exactly true, Tim. The atmosphere from sea level pressures to below one-tenth sea level pressures obeys the ideal gas law remarkably well, even at saturation pressures for water vapor…

February 26, 2020 2:21 pm

Some years back a friend who lived a few miles from the Ontario (ONT) airport in Southern CA told me of the time he drove from his house in Corona, CA to near ONT and the temp difference was nearly 30 deg in about 15 miles because of the Santa Ana winds. Another time he told me he drove in the same day from near Mammoth Lakes CA where it was about 15f below zero and near ONT it was pushing 100 deg f during an especially strong Santa Ana wind event.

It’s surprising he survived those wild temp differences. /sarc

Reply to  Kevin
February 27, 2020 4:24 am

I walked out of my 68 degree house to the outdoors which was -5.
I’m OK

Gunga Din
February 26, 2020 2:25 pm

“Chinook Winds”. “Indian Summer” (in certain parts of North America. Not a PC term anymore but it referred to the warming after the first frost.). “Nor’Easter” in New England, “Santa Anna Winds”, “Pineapple Express”, etc. etc.
Just how many seasonal and natural events have happened long enough for the locals to give them a name?
How many of these events have been twisted or hyped by the “Climate Change” crowd to be something “new” or “different now” than before?

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Gunga Din
February 26, 2020 10:03 pm

“January Thaw” —
I think from upper mid-West into Canada and eastward into Pennsylvania.

Gunga Din
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
February 27, 2020 4:12 pm

I couldn’t do it but perhaps it would be a worthy endeavor for someone to catalog such things to counter the hype promoted by such as “The Storm Channel” (formerly and really about “The Weather Channel”)?
I mean, before cell phone videos, it did actually rain or snow in places where they imply “It never rained like this before!” when it actually did. Often enough that the locals gave the recurring event a name.
(Of course I’m not talking about specific events that earned a name such as “The Blizzard of ’78” or the “’37 Flood” in the Mid-West but recurring, seasonal events that have a name.)

Andre Den Tandt
February 26, 2020 2:28 pm

The article is great in explaining why descending air warms, but the drying also needs explaining: it dries because the RELATIVE humidity of air decreases as it warms, thus drying out the air without losing any moisture.

Reply to  Andre Den Tandt
February 26, 2020 2:45 pm

Andre you are absolutely correct. However because I was writing a 800 word local newspaper article for the general public, my experience is the denser the science, the more the public is overwhelmed and stops reading. I get great feedback from my local community. I once had people tell me they lost me when I used the word “anthropogenic”.

So instead of diving into how warming changes relative humidity, a term most people are unsure of, I chose to just describe Chinooks and Foehn winds as warm and dry.

Komrade Kuma
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 2:56 pm

Jim, you have nailed the reason why the alarmist narrative has been so successful in frightening people. As an engineer I understand the science and can see the great logical chasms in the physiscs, the chemistry, the thermodynamics of the alarmist drivel let alone the paedophile like abuse of statistical methods. Large swathe of our communities have little or no science and maths education and are deaf, mute and blind to such red flags signalling the climate fraud and are as susceptible to the ravings of the alarmists as our ancient ancestors were to the ravings of shamans, druids and other ‘holy men’ from time immemorial.

John Tillman
Reply to  Komrade Kuma
February 26, 2020 3:48 pm

You mean “swath”, not “swathe”.

Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 4:16 pm

John, too much nitpicking.

the British spell it “swathe” .

Leo Smith
Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 4:16 pm

he meant ‘swathes’

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 6:32 pm


No, they don’t.

The BBC has for some reason decided that “swathes” sounds better than “swaths”, but they’re just as wrong as you are re. Chinook winds.

In both American, British and all other forms of English, “swath” does not mean the same as “swathe”. It would have taken you no time at all to look it up, if, as seems the case, you didn’t already know. Which as a land scientist you should have. The BBC is too far removed from the land to understand the difference, but you should know better. The distinction goes deep into Old English.


I guess you never drove a swather.

It’s not a nitpick, but a vital distinction. You’re welcome for the education.

Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 6:40 pm
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 6:57 pm

Sigh, with eye-rolling.

Please read the definition.

It has nothing to do with a swath of land, but with how to spell a verb.

I know you’re smarter than this. Clearly your unscientific inability to admit error has made you grasp at blatantly false straws.

When you’re in a hole, quit digging.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 7:11 pm


There might be English dialects in which a swathe is the same as a swath with a scythe, but in all normal English, it’s a swath, while to swathe is a verb meaning to wrap.

Hence, the modern usage “swather”. “Swathe” is not a standard noun in any form of English. But for some reason, BBC presenters have adopted it.

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 7:20 pm

My OED says that pronouncing the noun “swath” as “swathe” is an archaic northern counties dialectical variation. But in standard British and American English, “swath” is a noun referring to land, based on a scythe swipe, while “swathe” is a verb meaning to wrap, as per the definition I posted.

Sorry that I can’t post a link to on line OED, since I’m not a subscriber.

Nicholas Mearing-Smith
Reply to  John Tillman
February 27, 2020 1:07 am

John Tillman. I looked up in my micrographic paper of the OED, which I bought in 1974, in which historical usages are given. Their references include spellings as swath and swathe for each of the meanings to which you refer. Fowler commented disapprovingly on how, in the 19th century, grammarians created restrictive rules that were not necessarily a reflection of what good writers of English had previously done. Perhaps this is another such example?

Reply to  John Tillman
February 27, 2020 2:53 am

From my dictionary, and from memory from growing up, a Swath is the line of grass or corn left by one scythe swing. I used to be quite good at using a scythe.
To Swathe something is to wrap or bandage it.

Ben Vorlich
Reply to  John Tillman
February 27, 2020 6:27 am

Not wishing to fan the flames. The Cambridge Dictionary says swathe
(also swath)
Def a long strip or large area especially of land:

Swath Def a strip or belt, or a long area of something:

I’ve always used swathe, but I was educated in Scotland

Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 3:13 pm

When I was thinking about the falling air gaining energy, the first thing that came into my mind was Wile E Coyote realizing he was about to be crushed by an anvil.

I’m not sure it would work in this case, but people understand concepts like bricks falling on their heads from a dizzying height. 🙂 example: “A brick falling from the top of that building would have about the same energy.”

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 27, 2020 5:39 am

Andre Den Tandt – February 26, 2020 at 2:28 pm “ but the drying also needs explaining: it dries because the RELATIVE humidity of air decreases as it warms, thus drying out the air without losing any moisture.

Jim Steele – February 26, 2020 at 2:45 pm “Andre you are absolutely correct.

Now boys, being the persnickety cuss that I am, I can‘t let ya get by with that.

Humid air doesn’t “dry out” when it expands, …… it’s H2O vapor ppm simply decreases due to its expansion. The same amount of H2O vapor is still there, but in a larger volume of air.

And when humid air warms and rises, ……. cooler dry air may, can, will …. flow in to prevent a vacuum.

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
February 27, 2020 8:02 am

Samuel, In sense it does “dry” out. Warmer air can hold more water vapor, and thus with a given amount of water vapor the relative humidity decreases as air temperature increases.

However because relative humidity is a relative term, fire and drought researchers now prefer to use the concept of “vapor pressure deficit”. At a given temperature, the air can hold x amount of water vapor. Any amount less is considered a deficit. The larger the vapor deficit the larger the drying effect on the vegetation and soils.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 28, 2020 3:34 am

Jim, yup, as the air warms, …… it “feels like” it is drying out, ….. in an “open” systen only.

February 26, 2020 2:42 pm

Regarding 2 decades of cooling trend in the Antarctica Peninsula: The cooling started after the late 1990s according to the linked article, which was published in 2016. That article is Turner et al..2016.

In a previous WUWT article by Jim Steele, https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/02/09/medias-horribly-dishonest-antarctica-propaganda/ I got linked to
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969716327152 which is Turner et al. 2016. There, I saw the cooling trend mentioned as 1999-2014 and shortly after that being mentioned as initiating in 1998 or 1999. This is less than 2 decades. And the trend there through the the UAH reporting of satellite-measured lower troposphere temperature (starting at the end of 1978) is warming.

February 26, 2020 2:49 pm

It’s worst than we thought, thanks to AGW, polarbears live now Antartic. What’s about penguins in the Arctic, not yet arrived ?

Abolition Man
Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 26, 2020 5:46 pm

The first climate change refugees! They really have to change their name to MSLSD seeing as all the onair talent is hallucinating!
Thank you, Jim, for an interesting and informative post. I am much troubled that thou wert harried by pickers of nits; who knew that languages evolve!

Gunga Din
Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 27, 2020 4:16 pm

Not all them.
According to “Sherman’s Lagoon”, a polar bear named Thornton’s iceberg melted somewhere in the tropics.
(He likes it there.) 😎

February 26, 2020 2:52 pm

From the article
In the Swiss Alps, these downslope winds are called foehn winds.
Not only in Switzerland, but Austria and Germany too, there written Föhn

Ian Cooper
Reply to  Krishna Gans
February 26, 2020 7:23 pm

These are the same winds that cross the Southern Alps in New Zealand as well as the dividing range of the North Island. Technically we call them fohn winds, but locals on the eastern side of both islands refer to them as “Nor’ Westers.” Often very strong and gusty as they move in ahead of an approaching cold front. They have been responsible for NZ’s hottest ever recorded temperature some 48 years ago. Feb 7th 1973 Rangiora just out of Christchurch hit 42.2C. The approaching front acted as a conveyor of heat reaching all the way back in to the heart of the Australian continent! Interesting that as NZ is considered a part of “Oceania,” which includes all of the islands of the south Pacific, then that temperature record is also the highest for Oceania! Not what most would expect, where most would think the record would reside in the tropics and not at 43 South!

Gunga Din
February 26, 2020 2:55 pm

Obviously those readers who got lost never took one of those “gender studies” classes they now have.
Or maybe they did and wonder what’s now missing?
Or maybe I should quit while I’m behind? 😎

February 26, 2020 3:27 pm

New York Times reporter Kendra Pierre-Louis…claimed Esperanza’s extreme temperature verified that climate “models are right”

I guess Kendra Pierre-Louis never looked at this graph of models versus measurements from the IPCC AR5 report in 2013. But when was doing research ever important to propagandists reporters today?

February 26, 2020 3:33 pm

Leonardo di Caprio’s sharp intellect plus chinook winds equals pure hilarity:


AK in VT
February 26, 2020 3:33 pm

Why aren’t there any penguins in the North Pole? The polar bears ate them. Mmmm! Tastes like chicken.

John Tillman
Reply to  AK in VT
February 26, 2020 3:49 pm

More like fish.

Reply to  John Tillman
February 27, 2020 8:12 am

John – In the upper reaches of the Arctic.. the word is spelled “fishe”

Reply to  rbabcock
February 27, 2020 10:31 am


February 26, 2020 3:58 pm

Thank you very much for this wonderful post
One of the best ever on wuwt that I have read
i used to live in calgary alberta where what’s his name the movie actor guy had declared a chinook event as a climate change event
Khobp khun khraap

February 26, 2020 4:20 pm

Here’s a pretty good story of the Chinook winds in the Black Hills of South Dakota, focuses in on one record setting day Jan 22nd 1943 in Spearfish SD.

By the History Guy.


Reply to  papertiger
February 26, 2020 4:31 pm

Thanks much for that link to the HistoryGuy , papertiger,

People really do not understand the extremes of weather or our weather history. The short 5 minute video you linked to is well worth watching.

Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 5:02 pm


So rarely I get to help out.

February 26, 2020 6:41 pm
John Tillman
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 8:20 pm

Yet again, you fail to make the simple distinction between noun and verb.

In standard British English, as I’ve repeatedly shown, the correct spelling of “swath” is “swath”, as in every other form of English.

Reply to  John Tillman
February 27, 2020 10:33 am

Btw, you fail to distinguish between important and unimportant comments. Guess what yours is ?

John Tillman
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 8:25 pm

Bear in mind also that the Middle English “e” ending became silent in Modern English, indeed even in Late Middle English:


You’re just way out of your depth here.

Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 8:34 pm

Bear in mind John.

your persistent irrelevant quibbling is totally annoying, meaningless and tiresome. I really do not care anymore what you have to say about linguistics. It is totally meaningless in the context of a weather dynamics discussion. Your linguistic obsession is way too weird, and I will no longer respond.

John Tillman
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 8:43 pm

Sorry to learn that you find reality weird.

That can’t help with selling CACA skepticism, but more power to you just the same.

You’ve already lost 15 million Pacific Northwesterners who say that our snow has been Chinooked off by the Pineapple Express. Compared to that, misuse of “swath” pales.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 26, 2020 10:07 pm

I agree, and besides he is giving the name of John a bad reputation.

Thanks, Jim S.
I always enjoy your essays.

Reply to  Jim Steele
February 27, 2020 10:17 am

John Tillman, have you been diagnosed yet for your OCD?

Gunga Din
Reply to  Jim Steele
February 27, 2020 4:34 pm

Careful, Jim.
John might hit with a swatch! (Or should that be a schwach? or a swatch (of cloth) or a switch or a Sasquatch or a …)

(John, time to give it rest.)

John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
February 26, 2020 8:35 pm

Still imagine that “swathe” is standard British English?


Not only did I grow up on a US farm, but I went to grad school in England in the ‘70s.

I know swath from swathe.

Reply to  John Tillman
February 27, 2020 7:08 am

You may know swath from swathe, but don’t know how to stop being annoying.

Reply to  John Tillman
February 27, 2020 6:21 pm

I also went to grad school in England in the 70s (two, actually), plus a first degree, and infants, primary and grammar school before that, and have lived there ever since. Normal British usage for the noun is definitely swathe, not swath. (I can’t even guess how to pronounce ‘swath’, having never heard it spoken in my 67 years.)
I cannot believe you are trying to impose your idiolect (a very apposite word, I think) on other people, given that people have given you several references showing that the noun is at least optionally (and in my experience exclusively) swathe in Britain. Your linguistic experience does not define the language.

Reply to  kgbgb
February 27, 2020 6:50 pm

Wasn’t this about downslope winds?

Reply to  John Tillman
February 28, 2020 5:23 am

Your use of ‘evidence’ is astonishing. You reply to Jim’s link (that shows that swathe is a British English noun) with another link, and arrogantly tell him he’s way out of his depth. Presumably you assume that nobody will actually follow your link – because if they do, they will find another reference showing that swathe is a British English noun! Similarly, your triumphal attitude when linking to that agricultural machinery website is presumably designed to give the impression that it supports your case, when in fact it uses the word swather not swath. You might read that as a piece of machinery that creates a swath, but you have zero evidence that the person who wrote it didn’t think of it as meaning a piece of machinery that creates a swathe. (And even if you are right about their intentions, that doesn’t show that their choice was forced by the rules of the language, rather than just happening to agree with your idiolect rather than mine.)
I can’t decide whether you genuinely don’t understand that a piece of evidence that is consistent with your beliefs is not, ipso facto, evidence against someone you disagree with, or whether you are deliberately trolling to disrupt this highly valuable site. Is the deficit in logic, or honour?

Gerald Machnee
Reply to  John Tillman
March 1, 2020 3:02 pm

Left town.

Reply to  John Tillman
February 27, 2020 12:14 am

Take a look at that: https://dict.leo.org/englisch-deutsch/
Both is correct.
On the other hand, you try cherry picking but there are no cherries.
Why don’t you stop to fill the lines with BS ?

Reply to  John Tillman
February 27, 2020 6:40 am

As a Brit from the English Midlands I use swathe as both a noun and a verb, I’ve never used swath.

February 26, 2020 7:01 pm

It has become a thing to trash ill informed celebrities but this fits right into this whole story. Leonardo DiCaprio was filming a movie just outside of Calgary Alberta which experiences numerous Chinooks every winter. So when a Chinook rolled in, he had to attribute it to global warming. Everyone in Calgary made fun of his obvious stupidity. https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/leonardo-dicaprio-witnesses-a-terrifying-sign-of-climate-change-in-calgary-a-chinook

Jerry Gustafson
February 26, 2020 7:11 pm

I remember sitting in the living room of our home in the Fairbanks Alaska area with the outside temp below -40. In Interior Alaska, when it’s that cold, there is no wind whatsoever. Suddenly we would become aware from the sounds that a significant wind is blowing, the temperature would go up to around 40 above or even warmer in a few minutes. The winds would blow for anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days. Snow would be melting rapidly. The wind would then quit as quickly as it started and within very short time we’d be back to -40. It was always amazing an amazing thing to behold.

February 26, 2020 11:40 pm

1) PV=mRT (where P=pressure, V=volume, m=mass of air, R=gas constant, T= temperature)
Pressure = Load / Area
2) Pressure = Mass x gravity / length x breadth (or M x g / l x b)
3) Volume = length x breadth x height (or V = l x b x h)

substituting 2 & 3 in equation 1

(m x g) / (l x b) x (l x b x h) = m x R x T


m x g x h = m x R x T
or g x h = R x T
T = (g x h / R)

Therefore Temperature is a function of height (or altitude)

son of mulder
Reply to  KAT
February 27, 2020 1:56 pm

Or put another way Gravitational potential energy becomes kinetic energy. But there is another component, it rains on the west side thus releasing latent heat of evaporation.

Phil Salmon
February 27, 2020 5:41 am

This William Happer talk is quite long, but the first 5 minutes where he exposes Al Gore as a cheap scamming ignoramus are priceless!


February 27, 2020 6:10 am

The Antarctic polar bear should be the mascot of the climastrological cargo cult, along with the Amazonian giraffe.

Reply to  Adrian
February 27, 2020 6:42 am

Don’t forget the Eurasian unicorn and the Grecian centaur.

Calistoga Don
February 27, 2020 9:36 am

The 2017 Tubbs fire in Napa ans Sonoma was a classic example of this. I was there. Winds over the range separating Napa and Sonoma Counties hit 86 mph in the middle of the night. With little warning, a big chunk of Santa Rosa disappeared.

Steve Z
February 27, 2020 12:06 pm

[QUOTE FROM ARTICLE]”Such dramatic warming in winter seems unbelievable, but the laws of physics steadfastly state increasing pressure increases temperature without adding heat. As air moves down slope and compresses, it warms.”

Actually, the first law of thermodynamics states that for any system, dU = Q – W, change in internal energy = heat in minus work done by the system. For a downsloping wind, the wind is doing work on the air in the downwind valley, so that the work done is negative, and even without any heat transfer (Q = 0), the change in internal energy is positive, meaning the temperature increases.

Of course, there must be some driving force (such as a nearby storm) causing the wind to blow up a mountain range and down the other side. On the upwind side of the mountains, moist air blown up the mountainside toward the low-pressure summits expands and cools, and if the colder air is saturated in moisture, it can precipitate out as rain or snow. On the downwind side, the air near the summit may be nearly saturated, but as it descends and warms, the same absolute humidity may be very low relative humidity, so the sky tends to be clear over the downwind side. If a foehn wind occurs during daylight hours, there is further warming from solar heating.

I’ve seen foehn winds create sharp temperature differences within 50 km in France. The city of Gap, in southern France, is at the western end of a long valley running east-west, with high mountains to the north. I was there in late January, and there was a snowstorm over the northern slopes of the mountains up to the summit, on a northerly wind. Shortly after driving through the pass toward the south, the snow stopped, and there were breaks in the clouds, and by the time I arrived in Gap, the weather was sunny and about 65 F, under a clear blue sky throughout the bottom of the valley. People living along the French Riviera call this wind “le mistral qui balaye le ciel”, or “the north wind which sweeps the sky [clear]”.

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