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Climate: Bioparticles in dusty air may be key to rain and snow formation

Tiny bioparticles in atmospheric dust play a big role in the formation of raindrops and snowflakes. bberwyn photo.

Tiny bioparticles in atmospheric dust play a big role in the formation of raindrops and snowflakes. bberwyn photo.

Researchers starting to take nuanced look at chemical composition of aerosols

Staff Report

FRISCO —Scientists have long known that tiny grains of airborne dust are key players in the formation of rain and snow, driving precipitation patterns across the drought-stricken western U.S. and other areas.

New research suggests that  the exact chemical make-up of that dust, including microbes found in it, is the key to how much rain and snow falls from clouds.  The information could help better predict rain events, as well as explain how air pollution from a variety of sources influences regional climate in general.

“We’ve learned that not all of the particles in the air at high altitudes have the same influence on clouds. We’re starting to think that these differences contribute to how rain gets distributed,” said Dr. Kim Prather, who presented her findings at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society last week in San Francisco. Continue reading

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Morning photo: Monsoon season!

Misty mountains

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Early morning cloudscape pano near Frisco, Colorado.

FRISCO — For a few weeks every summer, Colorado’s weather pattern experiences a seasonal shift that gives us a taste of the tropics. As big high pressure areas move around, moisture often streams into our mountains from the south, keeping the air moist and temperatures relatively warm at night, since the clouds, or even just the moist air, act as a blanket and prevent the day’s warmth from radiating back into space at night. It may be hard to believe, given how much snow we get in the middle of winter, but our monsoon season is actually the wettest time of year in Colorado. And, of course, it’s one of the best times to snap pictures of dramatic cloudscapes. Continue reading

Breck snowfall above average 4 months in a row

Fourth-snowiest year on record in Summit County

Big snows coated the Gore Range in March 2014. bberwyn photo.

Big snows coated Colorado’s Gore Range in March 2014. bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Another month of above-normal snowfall has put Breckenridge on track for its fourth-snowiest winter on record, according to National Weather Service observer Rick Bly, who measured 37.4 inches at his backyard gauge.

That makes it the 10th-snowiest March, a month that sees average snowfall of 25.5 inches. Bly said precipitation has been above average for four straight months. During the current water year, which started Oct. 1, only November saw slightly below normal snowfall. Precipitation (the combination of melted snow and rain) for the water year to date is already at 15.2 inches, nearly six inches more than average. Continue reading

Morning photo: Best of March

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A little bit of melting along the edge of the Meadow Creek wetlands in Frisco indicates spring is, however reluctantly, coming.

A little bit of melting along the edge of the Meadow Creek wetlands in Frisco indicates spring is, however reluctantly, coming.

FRISCO — In past years, I’ve photographed early wildflowers in March, but this long winter has left a solid blanket of snow still draped over the high country. A few warm afternoons have hinted at spring, but winter has been tenacious. Here’s what it looked like in Summit County the past few weeks. Continue reading

Morning photo: Half-light

High in the Rockies …

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A curtain of virga hangs over the Colorado Rockies during a solar eclipse.

FRISCO — A couple of years ago, we had the chance to wander way up above treeline during a solar eclipse that started in the late afternoon and continued until after sunset. While we weren’t able to see the moment of totality, the shifting light of the clouds, combined with the filtering effect of the eclipse delivered some breathtaking light. If you enjoy our daily snapshots, visit our online gallery at Fine Art America for a selection of Summit County landscape and nature images.

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Crowdfunding push aims to cut avalanche deaths

A wet snow avalanche in Tenmile Canyon, near Frisco, Colorado.

A wet snow avalanche in Tenmile Canyon, near Frisco, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Snowsports industry, safety agencies team up for Project Zero

Staff Report

With 25 backcountry avalanche deaths in the U.S. this winter, and eight in Colorado, mountain enthusiasts are launching a major crowdfunding push to boost the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

The Colorado effort is part of an ambitious national push to reduce avalanche fatalities to zero by 2025. Project Zero is a collaboration between AIARE, Snowsports Industries America, Friends of the CAIC, the Utah Avalanche Center, Northwest Avalanche Center, Canadian Avalanche Centre, National Ski Areas Association and the National Ski Patrol.

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Morning photo: Emergent

Earth tones

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Emergent sage, Summit County, Colorado.

FRISCO — Summit County gleamed white once again after a quick overnight storm dropped a few more inches of snow, the latest wave in a seemingly endless onslaught of winter. But it only took a few hours of warm spring sunshine start the inexorable thaw process in the valleys, where — surprise — there’s already a bit of brown earth showing. Melting snow on emergent sage has to be one of the best smells in the world, and if you don’t believe me, take a stroll along the Oro Grande trail in Dillon. Please visit our online gallery at Fine Art America for more Summit County landscape and nature photography.

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