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Windy observations

To the Editors,

Your recent “New Windy City” article (June 10) reflected a widespread sense, throughout the Western Slope, that this was a very windy spring.Telegraph readers may recall that the Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies is closely monitoring the now notorious dust being deposited throughout the Colorado mountains by these winds and altering the timing and rate of snowmelt runoff. This spring, we tallied nine separate dust storm events, with frequently ferocious S’ly and SW’ly wind, and in 2009 we counted 12 dust storm events. Despite accusations of conflict of interest by some of our Silverton neighbors, we were actually hoping that Spring 2010 would be wind and dust-free ... knowing better.

Although it’s sometimes risky to directly correlate hemispheric-scale atmospheric processes to the local weather, data from our Putney Study Plot near Red Mountain Pass does support the general impression of the wind weary. Wind speed and direction are measured at Putney at the top of a 30 foot tower located on an exposed ridgeline at 12,325’, minimizing as much as is practicable the influence of local terrain on the wind field. This past April and May were both, in fact, the windiest April and May that we’ve logged during the past six years (since we began collecting data in 2004/2005), logging 14,646 miles of wind passing through the Putney anemometer’s propeller in April and 14,468 miles of wind in May (based on measurements of wind speed made every 5 seconds, 24/7/365). What’s more, this April and this May were the second and third windiest months, out of all months, that we’ve ever measured at Putney, with December 2008 being the windiest at 14,741

miles of wind. (April and December have been the first and second windiest months over the short, six-year period of record at Putney). That said, with an October-May total of90,175 miles of wind, the winter of 2009/10 was not the windiest winter that we’ve seen. That dubious distinction fell to the winter of 2008/09 at 96,954 miles of wind4

followed by 2007/08 at 96,266 miles, then 2005/06 at 92,290 miles, followed by last winter, at fourth out of six measured seasons.  Thanks for running this interesting piece on San Juan weather ... I’m sure your readership includes a lot of mountain weather buffs and I hope these Putney data further illuminate the story. We post Putney data, updated hourly, and data from our three other Senator Beck Basin Study Area instrument arrays on our Current Conditions web page, at http://snowstudies.org/current1.html   

– Chris Landry, Center for Snow and Avalanche Studies


Science behind extreme weather

To the Editors:

In response to the letter in June 17, 2010 edition.

Thanks for your reply and interest in the topic of global warming. This topic has been of concern for some time. While the reader is correct in saying that it is difficult, if not impossible, to link any individual meteorological event, such as this spring’s windy conditions, he seems to ignore the science presented in the article. For starters, the article noted a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report that the 12-month period from April 1, 2009, - March 30, 2010, has been the warmest since meteorological records began in the 1880s. FYI, NOAA has since released yet another report that the first five months of this year have been the warmest on record.

The reader also fails to mention the other scientific information presented in the article, that temperatures across the U.S. have gone up 2 degrees since 1975 and that temperatures in Colorado have increased 2.28 degrees over the same time period. The article does not cite windy conditions as the only proof of global warming. Rather the article seeks to “connect the dots” between the recent global temperature increase with a rise in temperature, in both the U.S. overall as well as Colorado, as proof of global warming. The windy conditions we’ve seen this spring may be a result of the warming that is occurring, as the global climate models predict more extreme weather.

The reader also suggests several times that my motivation must be political. To set the record straight, this isn’t about Al Gore, and the last time I checked Mother Nature was registered as an independent.

– Chris Fox, retired professor University of Maryland


A suggestion for Sir Dennis

Dear Dennis Pierce and Editors,

Dennis, your comment about people missing your right wing tirades is loaded with sarcasm, suggesting that you know people cringe at your cynical and loathsome expressions. Does it really behoove you (a grown man with individual reasoning capabilities) to sit at your computer concocting nasty cheap shots at everything Obama?   I personally worked my tail off in the days leading up to the presidential election for Obama and am proud to have done so. Obama, so far, is better than the eight years of environmental and financial devastation that we all (citizens regardless of political affiliation) had to live through with the Cheney regime. My unsolicited and humble suggestion Sir Dennis is for you to go huck yourself off Baker’s Bridge, you might find it briefly takes your mind off the current administration’s shortcomings.

– Nicholas Foster, via e-mail


Mark the name

To the Editors,

All Colorado has been very fortunate for several years to have had competent, intelligent, hardworking representatives at the State Legislature from this district. These have been hard working political moderates who knew and cared about the vital interests of all the people they serve.

That seat is open now, and I believe the Democrats have not only the best man for the job but probably the most able person we’ve seen for many years for the tough road ahead. Mark the name: Brian O’Donnell.

I say this very confidently because of where Brian comes from and all he has accomplished. He is the executive director of the Conservation Land Foundation, the only organization protecting the cultural, scientific and ecological resources in designated National Conservation lands. He’s honored for his recommendations to Congress that have been accepted unanimously by both sides of the aisle.

No need to explain the value of this. The Department of the Interior recently opened the HD Mountains to natural gas drilling. With the State Legislature’s mandate to convert power plants from coal to gas, there’s no doubt demand for gas will increase dramatically Think BP. What becomes crucial, then, is how it is extracted. The people in the Rifle area would have appreciated a man with Brian’s knowledge and experience in water, land and energy to fight for their health and safety years ago. Today they wouldn’t be able to “light” their drinking water as it comes from the faucet.

With his degree in economics, Brian O’Donnell is aware of the current problems, both nationally and in our Four Corners, the fact that we are not like the Front Range, that we are primarly a region of small businesses and agriculture. This is where our vitality lies and will be what lifts our economy. He proposes help for small businesses to obtain the capital they need, something easy for large corporations, difficult for the little guys. And too, our region is ideal for renewable energy. He is a strong supporter of this effort.

I urge you to mark his name: Brian O’Donnell.

– Henry Buslepp, Pagosa Springs



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January 26, 2024
Paper chase

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January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows