Leonardo DiCaprio witnesses a ‘terrifying’ sign of climate change in Calgary — a chinook

                                   (Excerpts:  Red-highlight mine)

Tristin Hopper | December 10, 2015 | Last Updated: Dec 11 7:10 PM ET
More from Tristin Hopper | @TristinHopper

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio attracted widespread derision from the people of Calgary after he cited the city’s famously unusual weather as “terrifying” evidence of climate change.

“We would come and there would be eight feet of snow, and then all of a sudden a warm gust of wind would come,” DiCaprio told Variety.com, describing it as a “scary” vision of things to come.

“It’s terrifying, and it’s what people are talking about all over the world. And it’s simply just going to get worse.”

While Alberta winters do seem to be getting warmer lately, sudden shifts of temperature have been a Calgary winter staple for centuries. Known as Chinook winds, they are sudden gusts of warm, coastal air that coarse over the Rocky Mountains, leaving a trail of instant snow melt.

“Those who have not the warm, invigorating Chinook winds of this country, cannot well comprehend what a blessing they are,” reads a description of the phenomenon from a 1900 edition of the Calgary Weekly Herald. “The icy clutch of winter is lessened, the earth throws off its winding sheet of snow.”

Chinooks are also the origin of the favourite Calgary phrase “if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes.”

While the actor did not mention the specific date when the phenomenon took place, it did suddenly reach 17 C on Jan. 25, sending Calgarians to patios in t-shirts.

Oddly, however, DiCaprio reported that Albertan crew members told him ‘this has never happened in our province ever.”

“I wish someone had explained to Leonardo DiCaprio what a Chinook is,” wrote Alberta MP Michelle Rempel in a Twitter Post.


“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,” he said.

The shoot did experience more Chinooks than usual because of a strong El Nino season, according to Global Calgary Meteorologist Jordan Witzel, who acted as a forecasting consultant on The Revenant.

The Titanic and Wolf of Wall Street star has long been a high-profle campaigner for action on climate change, and is currently working on a documentary about climate change, with a focus on weather patterns in 2015.

Although climate change’s actual effects on Alberta will likely not be noticeable to visiting actors, a 2013 report wrote that the province will see a two degree rise over the next 100 years, a situation that will bring about an earlier spring, increased precipitation and a drier climate.