Front Range Riffraff

All things Colorado snow+gravity.

All we are is dust in the wind (from Arizona, to Colorado)

Posted by frontrangeriffraff on April 11, 2009

Some massive dust storms have hit western Colorado this season. Observe the telltale red layer in these tracks down Larkspur Bowl at Beaver Creek on Saturday, April 4, 2009:
Larkspur Bowl at Beaver Creek, 9:01 a.m., Saturday, April 4, 2009.

Larkspur Bowl at Beaver Creek, 9:01 a.m., Saturday, April 4, 2009.

And I have found the source of said dust.. Actually, NASA’s Jeff Schmaltz with the MODIS Rapid Response Team and the Goddard Space Flight Center has found the source, and have the pictures to prove it from their crazy space camera thingamajig:
Dust storm over northeastern Arizona, April 3, 2009. (NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center)

Dust storm over northeastern Arizona, April 3, 2009. (NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center)

 

A few bloggers and news sources have posted about the storms, but Gunnison Country Times Editor Chris Dickey nails it:

“It’s not unusual to have dust storms,” said Doug Crowley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Grand Junction. “But what it comes down to is that this has been an active spring season. Seems like it’s been windier than normal.”

Friday’s event — which turned skies an eerie shade of red, reduced visibility in some towns to next to nothing and, combined with moisture, in some cases made it literally “raining mud,” according to Crowley — wasn’t the first dust storm of the year. But it definitely was the biggest.

Some longtime weather watchers called Friday’s dust storm “the worst they’d ever witnessed,” according to Chris Landry, who closely monitors “dust on snow” events for the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies in Silverton.

“This is the biggest event of this nature that I have seen in the 20 plus years I have been here,” said John Scott of Gunnison’s National Resource Conservation Service.

The Vail Daily covers the “Brah, it was that volcano in Alsaka” rumor.

CBS4 in Denver brings you the “Danger in the High Country!!! (film at 10)” angle.

All joking aside, the dust does appear to have an effect how how fast the snowpack melts, and possibly on avalanche risk. Some sciencey-types take you to school on the subject of the West getting dustier and dust storms in winter.

Also, the trip reports documenting the dust have been slowly appearing like, uh, dust on your VCR:

http://splitboard.com/talk/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=6716

http://www.mountainphotographer.com/dust-invasion/

http://www.14erskiers.com/blog/2009/04/purple-peak-s-couloir-4709/

http://www.14erskiers.com/blog/2009/04/the-s-tube-4809/

http://www.14ers.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?t=18254&p=222157

Whew, what a stack of links this post has been. Don’t let the dust get you down. Dusty snow is better than no snow.

Hope you are having a superb spring of snowriding. I know I have.

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One Response to “All we are is dust in the wind (from Arizona, to Colorado)”

  1. Mary Cathering said

    Good information and a service to all of us. I am involved in Environmental Analysis for some of the natural resources projects on the Navajo Nation. We all know we need to implement better grazing methods, but there are many road blocks including funding and people. I do not work for the Tribe.

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