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Dirty Snow- Source?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

For the first time this season, I noticed that the snow in my yard and roof in Frisco, CO has an orange-brownish layer between the snow we got Friday morning and what fell Friday night/Saturday.  Looks almost like the color of the road salt, but not sure how it would have wound up on the roof.

 

Anyone else experience this or have any idea where this came from?

post #2 of 13

A big wind/dust storm in Arizona.

post #3 of 13

around here it's pollen. the unique occurance could be due to timing of the pollen bloom and snowfalls.
 EDIT: we have a thousand miles of ocean to the west; changes the equation. my error.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree30 View Post

 

For the first time this season, I noticed that the snow in my yard and roof in Frisco, CO has an orange-brownish layer between the snow we got Friday morning and what fell Friday night/Saturday.  Looks almost like the color of the road salt, but not sure how it would have wound up on the roof.

 

Anyone else experience this or have any idea where this came from?


 


Edited by davluri - 4/10/2009 at 03:19 pm GMT
post #4 of 13

It's most likely pollen....your weather systems have been blowing in off the Pacific through the northwest, so AZ dust is unlikely. During our spring break here in loblolly pine land, most everyone's cars turn yellow, so usually, we get back from CO in time to wash our cars....

If you're old enough, you'll remember Reagan criticizing the Soviets for using chemical weapons in Afghanistan when they invaded in the 80's (we missed the 1980 Moscow Olympics for the same reason). The "yellow rain" ended up being just pollen....oh well, it made great press at the time...

post #5 of 13

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by csavage View Post

 

It's most likely pollen....your weather systems have been blowing in off the Pacific through the northwest, so AZ dust is unlikely. During our spring break here in loblolly pine land, most everyone's cars turn yellow, so usually, we get back from CO in time to wash our cars....

If you're old enough, you'll remember Reagan criticizing the Soviets for using chemical weapons in Afghanistan when they invaded in the 80's (we missed the 1980 Moscow Olympics for the same reason). The "yellow rain" ended up being just pollen....oh well, it made great press at the time...

This time, it really IS the Arizona dust.

 

http://www.naztoday.com/news/top-stories/2009/04/wind-dust-closes-i-40/

post #6 of 13


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

 

 

This time, it really IS the Arizona dust.

 

http://www.naztoday.com/news/top-stories/2009/04/wind-dust-closes-i-40/


 

Not from AZ. This is eastern Utah dust. 3rd time this season for us on the Western Slope.

post #7 of 13

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lloyd braun View Post

 


 


 

Not from AZ. This is eastern Utah dust. 3rd time this season for us on the Western Slope.

 

Well, wherever. I was told it was the Arizona storms. It's dust, though, not pollen. (I imagine dirt from northern AZ could make it to eastern UT, anyway ...not that it matters.)

post #8 of 13

It makes for an interesting track.  The other day I got some first tracks and stopped to look at the turns.  In this beautiful field of white was a dirty brown path. (Kind of ruins the moment a bit.)

post #9 of 13

The dust makes for interesting driving, first time out driving in it tonight I killed my wipers(bosh icon) on their first use.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys...I know in the Alps, they can get dust deposits from Africa and have read (here I think) about dust from the SW causing dirty snow which can lead to an earlier spring melt. 

 

Although I was inside most of Friday, it didn't seem dusty to me...one of the things I like about Frisco is that the air is very clean in that Summit has low pop & realitively few pollution sources and is protected a lot from distant sources by the surrounding Mnts...

post #11 of 13

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown View Post

 

 

This time, it really IS the Arizona dust.

 

http://www.naztoday.com/news/top-stories/2009/04/wind-dust-closes-i-40/

Wow! That's some powerful upper level wind event!

post #12 of 13
More info for anyone interested ...
 
 
http://www.gunnisontimes.com/index.php?content=C_news&newsid=5935
 
Massive amounts of rust-red colored dust from the deserts of Arizona and Utah were deposited across central and southwestern Colorado last Friday, leaving car windshields caked with mud and, more significantly, mountain snowpack susceptible to faster-than-normal melting.
"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."
The vast swaths of desert landscape to the west and southwest of here provides plenty of surface area for a low pressure system to pick up tiny dust particles, suspend them into the atmosphere and transport them to the Colorado high country, Crowley explained.
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.
That sentiment was shared locally.
"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.
People who were skiing at Crested Butte Mountain Resort over the weekend remarked how their turns left slinky red tracks through the snow.
"It was very red and very dirty," said Gunnison outdoor enthusiast Duane Vandenbusche, who skied the resort Saturday and in the local backcountry Monday. "I've never seen anything like that. I've seen dirt (on the snow), but nothing like that. It was unbelievable."
There was some speculation around the state that the weather event may have been impacted by volcanoes, including one that's been active recently in Alaska. Crowley and Landry dismissed this idea.
"Satellite imagery clearly showed that most of the northeastern corner of Arizona was releasing dust plumes heading northeastward, into Colorado," Landry observed in a report he sends to water watchers, including officials with the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District (UGRWCD).
Landry reported that Friday actually marked the eighth significant dust event to occur in Colorado this winter season, noting that there most likely is more on the way. After April is historically when most dust storms occur, he said.
"The major ramification is the timing and intensity of snow melt," Landry explained.
Pure white snow reflects the sun to a much greater extent than dirty snow does. The less reflection, the more solar radiation the snowpack absorbs; thus, the faster it melts.
In 2006, snow melt timing was advanced anywhere from four to six weeks due to large dust storm events then, according to Landry. This year is shaping up to be even dustier.
"We have serious concerns over the effects of last Friday's dust storm," said Frank Kugel, the director of the UGRWCD. "It could have a profound impact on the timing of this year's spring runoff. Early snow melt could result in lower than normal late summer flows and could lead to calls by downstream senior water rights."
The possible good news, according to the NWS' Crowley, is that more strong weather patterns appear to be in western Colorado's future. While this could lead to more dust events, it also should bring at least some precipitation.

"We desperately need the moisture," he said.

post #13 of 13

Anyone read the book Snow Waste

Great book I highly recommend it.  It may answer your question.

 

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