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This post explains why Chinook permits Alaskan to dress lighter than usual even in the middle of the winter. Learn why the air is warm during a Chinook event and why you nevertheless need shoes with good insulation.

  1. Chinook means snow-eater
  2. What does a Chinook mean for visibility
  3. Chinook fall outfit with summer clothes
  4. Why Chinook permits Alaskans to dress light


Chinook means snow-eater

The Chinook is a Föhn wind. In Interior Alaska, we get Chinooks, when a low pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska travels north over the Alaska Range. Chinook means “snow-eater”. Its air is warm and dry as during Chinook episodes a lot of the water load falls out on the southern exposed mountains of the Alaska Range.

Typically, temperature decreases with height. As the air ascends on the southern side of the Alaska Range, the condensation of water vapor to form cloud drops and ice crystals released heat and hence warms the air. Consequently, temperature decreased less strongly with height than without cloud formation. When the water rained out or falls as snow on the southern side, the air is dry when it descends on the northern side. Now temperature increases more strongly during the descend than it decreased when ascending on the southern side. Thus, when reaching the bottom of the valley the air is warmer than it was at same height on the other side of the mountains.


What does a Chinook mean for visibility

Thanks to the dry air, one can see the northern mountains of the Alaska Range in the outfit photos. These mountains are more than 80 miles away. Thus, this day had a great visibility because the water vapor content of the air was very low and there were hardly any particles in the air.


Chinook fall outfit with summer clothes

Chinnoks occur at all times of the year.  This time, the Chinook set in over night. The warm, dry air that made it over the Alaska Range, hence, melted and sublimated the snow away.

style book author in maxi leather coat
Outfit details: Long Gipsy leather coat, colorful scarf, GAP corduroy blazer, I.N.C. leather carpi, GNW sweater, LV multi color saddle bag with studs, and Ivanka Trump pumps


Since temperatures were in the 50s (10oC), I could wear my light long leather coat for the commute to work. Under my coat, I wore the leather carpi from summer with a fuchsia cardigan tucked in as a top, and a corduroy bottle-green blazer to give the outfit a fall vibe. I added my nude fuchsia-orange pumps for an office appropriate look. It is the second time that I styled this capri for a fall work outfit.

Are you still wearing clothes from summer or has fall’s chilly air already asked for winter clothes? Let me know, I am curious what you are wearing at this time a year.


Why Chinook permits Alaskans to dress light

The outfit below shows an example of a winter look under chinook conditions. Here I paired my gray tweed skirt and gray turtleneck cashmere sweater with some pearl necklaces for some classic simple style.

Since the ground does not warm fast, I added my boot toppers as they are actually socks and provide some insulation from the cold ground besides being totally stylish. The boot toppers the statement and fun part of the outfit.

To run errands I topped this classic outfit with my burgundy leather sweater. The leather top with zippers turns the classic look into lovely street style look.

Outerwear is an outfit too. Thus, style it. #agelesstyle #winterstyle Click To Tweet


leather sweater and tweed skirt outfit during a Chinook event
Business casual outfit worn during a Chinook event


over 50 years old fashionista in street style chic wearing boot topper socks with a leather sweater, and tweed skirt
Unbranded leather sweater, pearls, Eddie Bauer tweed skirt, unbranded pantyhose, booties with boot toppers


The outfit below shows another winter look worn during a Föhn warming event.

midlife women wearing boot toppers
Side view of outfit permitted in the middle of winter due to a Chinook event in Interior Alaska


Alaskan influencer in light street style outerwear why heavy boots are needed during Chinook in winter
Outerwear during the event


boot topper and pantyhose
Zoom-in on booties and boot toppers. The cold ground requires wear heavy booties with boot toppers for insulation between the feet in pantyhose and the ground.


style book author in leather skirt pantyhose, motorcycle shearling headband
Outfit details: Andrew Marcs shearling motorcycle jacket worn over oversize cable-knit sweater belted with a Paloma Picasso belt over Halogen leather A-line skirt, Gucci scarf, pliage bag, Halogen tan leather skirt, unbranded cable-knit sweater matching belt, scarf, bag, booties, head band (all own) and boot toppers c/o Top of the Boot


Interested in other “ood” Alaska street style. What about Alaskans weird relationship with PJs or  why Alaskans get rain days, but no snow days?

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Photos: G. Kramm

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