Winds of the world
Weatherwise (May/Jun 2000)
by Jan Null
The lexicon of wind has a proud history of colorful names, words that tap the deep connection humanity has with weather. Some places are named for winds, and some winds are named for places.
The cold air that flows down the Columbia River is sometimes called the gorge wind, after the deep-cut geological grandeur of northern Oregon. The gorge wind isn't just any valley wind, however. Sometimes it howls toward the Pacific Ocean at 80 mph, bringing memorable ice and snowstorms to the Portland area.
No wonder, then, that residents of the region felt compelled to give this important and regular atmospheric visitor a more distinctive name. They held a "Name Our East Wind" contest that drew 7,000 entries. The winner: the Coho.
Coho isn't only a colorful word explains Oregon State climatologist George Taylor, "It's an indigenous name to the Pacific Northwest; Coho salmon are wild, fast swimmers analogous to the wind." It doesn't hurt that a salmon cousin, Chinook, is indirectly immortalized as the warm dry wind that descends the front-range slopes of the Rocky Mountains, bringing a breath of spring in midwinter.
You don't have to use ordinary words when you're shooting the breeze about the weather. The lexicon of wind has a proud history of colorful names, words that tap the deep connection humanity has with weather. Whether a contest victor, like Coho, or an ancient inheritance, like typhoon (descended from the Chinese for "big wind", the great winds of the world have names with significant meaning, even cultural significance.
In an age of global commerce, for instance, it is no wonder that the persistent easterlies of the tropics are called the "trades." These winds brought European sailors across the oceans to find gold in the Americas, and they brought them home laden with riches from the Far East.
The business world has christened other winds, as well. After rounding...