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Calgary is a city that really experiences the four seasons. Spring arrives in the month of March, which is not to say that winter does not go without a fight. It is not unheard of for cold weather to persist (or return!) long after it is supposed to have gone, or for April showers to quash the hopes of golfers eager to start the season. If you are planning to visit during the Stapmede, be sure to bring along some suitable attire, since the whole city goes "western" for the occasion. Blue jeans, plaid shirts, boots and a cowboy hat are the name of the game. If your wardrobe is lacking in such items, you can always buy the necessary gear in Calgary.

With temperatures soaring to 30ºC or 35ºC when the sun is at its zenith, summer in Calgary can be a daunting prospect for travellers accustomed to humid summers. Rest assured that Calgary summers are more than bearable since the heat is a dry heat, thanks to the Rockies: the humidity of the air coming off the Pacific condenses as it is forced upward by this massive natural barrier, and falls as precipitation in the mountains before it reaches the city. Thus, the region around Calgary receives less than 30 centimetres of rainfall between May and September, and 35ºC in Calgary is probably a lot more comfortable than 30ºC in Montréal. Bring along T-shirts, light shirts and pants, shorts and sunglasses, as well as a sweater for the evenings. If you plan on hiking in the mountains, remember that it gets colder at higher altitudes, so be sure to bring along a windbreaker.

Like spring, autumn keeps you on your toes with unpredictable weather, thus it is best to come prepared for any surprises. The most changeable weather tends to occur in October, when temperatures can range anywhere between 30ºC and -20ºC. The first snowfall often arrives at the end of October, though it usually does not stay on the ground until November.

In January, the average temperature is -13ºC. However, it temperatures often plummet to -30ºC, or even -40ºC on certain days. Luckily for Calgarians, it is a dry cold and these deep freezes are often accompanied by bright sunshine. Big snowstorms are a rarity here. In winter, warm clothing is a must (coat, scarf, hat, gloves, wool sweater and boots).

Alberta's most spectacular climactic phenomena is undoubtedly the chinook. The word is taken from a native language, and means "the wind that makes the snow disappear" – and so it does. Masses of dry air sweep down from the Rockies in autumn or winter, driving out the cold air that comes from the north. In one day, the temperature might vary by as much as 30ºC, and up to 15ºC in an hour! If it is cloudy, you can see a chinook coming in advance because it pushes the clouds ahead of it and you will see an arc of blue sky that stretches across the eastern horizon.


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