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Oh, Leo. Bless his little heart. In a industry interview for his recent movie, The Revenant — which was filmed near Calgary, Alberta — DiCaprio discussed his horror when he experienced a warm wind blowing across the frosty landscape.
“We were in Calgary and the locals were saying, ‘This has never happened in our province ever.’ We would come and there would be eight feet of snow, and then all of a sudden a warm gust of wind would come … it was scary. I’ve never experienced something so firsthand that was so dramatic. You see the fragility of nature and how easily things can be completely transformed with just a few degrees difference. It’s terrifying, and it’s what people are talking about all over the world. And it’s simply just going to get worse.”
I wonder which “locals” said that to him, because the phenomenon Dicaprio experienced was merely a Chinook wind, which are extremely common in southern Alberta (also in Montana). The Chinooks are, arguably, a big reason why settlers decided to settle in southern Alberta in the first place, since it provided them with a periodic respite from the long Canadian winter.
Here’s a description of the phenomenon from 115 years ago:
Those who have not the warm, invigorating chinook winds of this country, cannot well comprehend what a blessing they are. The icy clutch of winter is lessened, the earth throws off its winding sheet of snow. Humanity ventures forth to inhale the balmy spring like air. Animated nature rejoices.
According to Wikipedia, Chinook winds have been observed to raise winter temperature, often from below -20°C (-4°F) to as high as 10-20°C (50-68°F) for a few hours or days, then temperatures plummet to their base levels. The greatest recorded temperature change in 24 hours was caused by Chinook winds on January 15, 1972, in Loma, Montana; the temperature rose from -48 to 9°C (-54 to 48°F).