Thursday, January 15, 2009

Baby, It's Coooollllldddd Outside! -Alberta Clipper

Path of most Alberta Clippers. Photo from Wikipedia.

Okay, waking up to temperatures of 11 below zero is not a treat in my book. I am not a big fan of cold weather. Looovve snow. But I can do without bone-chilling cold.

Anyway, some of you might be interested in why we are having this bit of cold weather. It is the cause of an Alberta Clipper. No, Alberta is not the name of some mean school marm that likes to torture kids. Alberta is the name of a province in Canada. This is where the storm arises. The "clipper" part comes from the fast moving ships of the 19th century, since this type of weather moves very quickly dropping temperatures 30 degrees in less than 12 hours sometimes.

This phenomenom occurs when warm moist air from the Pacific Ocean encounters the mountains in British Columbia and Alberta. This warm air travels down the mountain and brings unseasonably warm air to Alberta, sometimes as warm as 70 degrees F. Okay, I could go for that right now!

Next, the clipper visits the prairies of Canada and mixes with the cold air mass that is here in the winter. It then moves south, where is gets caught in the jet stream, rapidly bringing this cold air mass to our doorstep. It also brings strong winds 35-45 mph. This can cause the wind chill to be as low as 20 -50 below zero. Brrrrrr!!!!

But luckily, this is a clipper that is fast moving. So by the weekend, we will be a balmy 30 degrees. Get out your bikini!

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