CHINOOKS AND GENDER

A Salmon Story? No way!

You don’t need a weather man,
To know which ay the wind blows.
Bob Dylan

It is not often you bump into two papers on Chinooks and women's health. Normally I would just put such articles in storage bins for weather and health stuff, however, two of our LTER sites (CPR & NWT) are afflicted with Chinooks (aka snow eaters in Colorado). Since most clinical studies have used male subjects up to this point and because I remembered Rosen's 1979 quote on Chinooks by what he called a mountain poet: "like a scented virgin come to seduce the gods of winter" I know these gender things are tricky and treading on such slippery slopes is dangerous. For example, my wife won't even tell me which is preferred when you just can't use the term woman (girl, gal, lady, #@*^%$! and in the south my favorite mam). When the IJB, International Journal of Biometeorology, (Volume 38) takes on the issue of Chinooks and women, we can be at gender-ease for as long as it takes to put this little piece together. The studies reported on here come out of Calgary where they know a Chinook when they see one. In the study by Verhoef et al., they focus on the physical, psychological and behaviors. Now previous literature on the subject impugns Chinooks and Chinook look-a-likes with inducing tiredness, headache, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, decreased self-control, reduced reaction speed, lowered efficiency and apathy. I get the same responses just be announcing a test in class. The studies at hand focus on women in the 20-49 year. The researchers used the hey-I-don't-make-this-stuff-up "Moos menstrual distress questionnaire" (MDQ) on pre-Chinook, Chinook, post Chinook and non-Chinook days. First, it should be noted that healthy women show no negative scores on their MDQ, Chinook or no Chinook! However, women with emotional problems win large negative MDQ scores on the day of and the day before a Chinook hits. The have insomnia on Chinook days and have fatigue on the day before the Chinook. On the bright side, Verhoef reported improvement of skin disorders with the onset of the Chinook. The second study, Rose et al., focused not on women with emotional problems but those with chronic health problems. In this group, the Chinook effects were not so negative. The effects were mostly on the day of the Chinook. These chronically ill women upped their visits to the doctor’s office. Significant (p

Photo: John Porter

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