Chinooks are a weather phenomenon that occurs along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, and are most often associated with the City of Calgary, which gets an average of 25 chinook days a year. With the onset of a chinook, the atmospheric pressure changes rapidly, the foehn winds can gust up to 160 km per hour (100 mph) and the temperature changes dramatically (gets warmer).

Chinook means "breeze" or "wind" and is the name of a Pacific Northwest tribe. It is also the name of a Passenger-Only Fast class ferry, in the service of the Washington State Ferry system, which was built in Anacortes, Washington in 1998.

Source: WSDOT web site

The Chinook were a group of Native American tribes that lived in what is now the northwestern United States. These tribes, including the Clackama, the Clatsop, the Wasco, and the Wishram, lived on the shores of the Columbia River, made their livelihood by fishing, and spoke a group of very closely related languages - the Chinook language group. Chinook jargon, a pidgin version of the Chinook languages, served as a lingua franca for the whole Northwest dating back to precolumbian times. The Chinook tribes were widely known both before and after the Europeans arrived for their high quality craft goods, their potlatch gift-giving ceremonies, and their practice of flattening babies' foreheads to indicate social status. The Chinook people were all but wiped out in 1829, when a smallpox epidemic destroyed about 80% of the population. The survivors could not endure on their own, and soon assimilated into other tribes or European culture.

Chi*nook" (?), n.

1. Ethnol.

One of a tribe of North American Indians now living in the state of Washington, noted for the custom of flattening their skulls. Chinooks also called Flathead Indians.


A warm westerly wind from the country of the Chinooks, sometimes experienced on the slope of the Rocky Mountains, in Montana and the adjacent territory.


A jargon of words from various languages (the largest proportion of which is from that of the Chinooks) generally understood by all the Indian tribes of the northwestern territories of the United States.


© Webster 1913.

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