Durango Telegraph - Dust on the horizon
Dust on the horizon

Chris Landry, of the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies, has been getting his fingers dusty since 2002. At that time, he set up shop in Silverton with a vision for a research station that could assist scientists. To that end, he established an outdoor laboratory and currently measures for dust on snow at two isolated sites in the San Juans.

The impact of dust was especially significant in the winter of 2008-09, when more than 13 separate dust storms ripped through the San Juans. The numerous events set the high mark since the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies started its observations.

The winter of 2009-10 has been only slightly tamer by comparison, according to Landry, noting that the April 5

dust storm was a “significant” event. In addition, he added that dust season is not over yet, and he expects more red clouds on the local horizon.

“We haven’t had as many events but the timing of one in particular was problematic,” he said. “Based on the April 5 storm and the likelihood of a windy spring, it’s shaping up to be a significant year with significant dust events.”

Hesitant to point fingers, Landry noted that the workings of Mother Nature are one explanation. The winter of 2008-09 was an especially windy one, and intense storm cells picked up dust over the Utah and Arizona deserts and deposited it in the Colorado Rockies.

– Will Sands

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