The Calgary Clay Arts Association held their annual Christmas pottery sale this past weekend. Saturday was a pretty good day in terms of foot traffic and dollars spent. Sunday however was an entirely different story. As you may, or may not, be aware, Calgary, and the southern half of Alberta is blessed by a weather phenomenon called Chinooks. A Chinook is a rain shadow wind, caused by the moist Pacific air meeting the mountains where it loses its moisture on the upslope side, and then the resulting dry wind blows down the east side of the mountains onto the plains. As the wind loses it’s moisture it also becomes warmer and more energetic. The tell tale sign of a Chinook, if you are not outside to feel the wind, is the classic Chinook arch. This arch is a band of cloud that forms east of the mountains. Imagine -20 weather and then a Chinook blows in and in less than an hour or so, the temperature can climb above 0. Snow can disappear in a heartbeat, and the wind is warm, although not very gentle. Anyway, Sunday was a doozy. The Chinook that blew in on Saturday night developed wind gusts during Sunday that were classified as a class 1 hurricane in terms of speed. It was so powerful it blew windows out of downtown skyscrapers, and caused the City to shut the downtown core. No vehicle or pedestrian traffic was allowed, and it also stopped the light rapid transit system from going through the city centre.
Many large trees were uprooted, and the damage will be quite high once the figures get added up. Unaware of all the carnage going on, we were sitting in our little sale wondering where all the people were and commenting on how windy it was. Little did we know that there was a wind warning and people were being advised to stay home due to the dangerous driving conditions, flying debris, and trees coming down all over.