Snowpack news: Not much dust on snow this season in Colorado will help slow melt-out

Westwide SNOTEL snow water equivalent as a percent of normal April 23, 2015
Westwide SNOTEL snow water equivalent as a percent of normal April 23, 2015

From The Denver Post (Jason Blevins):

The absence of the melt-spurring layers of ruddy southwestern dust bodes well for Colorado water watchers eager for a slow thaw.

“When you don’t have dust on snow as an accelerant to already not-great conditions, that’s a good thing,” said Jim Pokrandt, spokesman for the Colorado River District, which spans 15 counties on the Western Slope, accounting for about 28 percent Colorado’s landmass…

There have been three relatively weak dust events in Colorado so far this season, most of them impacting the southern portion of the state. This time last year, there had been seven events, with a couple in March depositing thick layers on the snowpack. In late April 2013, Silverton-based researchers chronicling the impact of dust on snow tallied nine events including a major March windstorm that accounted for 90 percent of the total dust they measured for the season. Through March this year, there were no measurable dust events. Three so far in April have coated the snow with small layers of dust.

“This year is proving to be comparatively light,” said Chris Landry, the director of the Center for Snow & Avalanche Studies in Silverton who has been charting dust-on-snow since 2003.

The recent snow storms in the last two weeks have helped to bury the dust layers and thwart an early melt-off after an unseasonably warm and dry March. Snowpack levels across the state are below median levels, with the southern river basins around 30 percent of median while the basins in the northern and central portion of the state are between 60 percent to 88 percent of median.

Lake Mead 2015: Photos Show Water Level Nearing Record Low — International Business Times #ColoradoRiver #drought

Click through for the photo essay and article from the International Business Times (Phillip Ross). Here’s an excerpt:

A white band hems the shoreline of Lake Mead like a bathtub ring, a stark reminder that the nation’s largest reservoir is steadily losing water at a time when the precious commodity is needed the most. The latest measurements released Wednesday show the lake is nearing its lowest height in its 80-year existence. At nearly 1,081 feet, Lake Mead’s water level is 148 feet below capacity and dropping — an elevation not seen since 1937, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation.

Lake Mead’s plight is a symbol of the crippling “mega drought” that has gripped California and other Southwest states for the past four years, with no sign of letting up. Scientists are calling the water shortage the worst in centuries. “Even at the middle-of-the-road scenario, we see enough warming and drying to push us past the worst droughts experienced in the region since the medieval era,” Benjamin Cook, a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, told National Geographic in February.

West Drought Monitor April 21, 2015
West Drought Monitor April 21, 2015

Explosión volcán calducho — Rodrigo Barrera


Twin blasts from the Calbuco volcano in southern Chile have sent vast clouds of ash into the sky, increasing concerns that it could contaminate water, cause respiratory illnesses and ground flights.

The volcano erupted Wednesday afternoon for the first time in more than four decades, then had another outburst early Thursday.

The Plastic Age: A Documentary feat. Pharrell Williams (Full Film) — “The ocean connects us all”

“Life in the ocean has been evolving to hundreds of millions of years and then along came petroleum.”

“Every four years we make a billion tons of plastic.”

“In a span of 50 years of plastic we have plasticized our planet.”

From Wallace J. Nichols’ website:

We all talk about the Stone Age, the Iron Age and the Bronze Age, but what era are we living in right now? People are starting to refer to us as the – far less romantic – Plastic Age. We make 288 million tonnes of plastic a year, and unlike paper, metal, glass or wood, it does not oxidise or biodegrade, instead it ends up in our oceans, making the ratio of plastic to plankton 100:1. The way to make use of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch? Bionic yarn. Co-designed by Pharrell, G-Star’s RAW for the Oceans collection is the world’s first denim line created from plastic that has been fished out of the big blue and recycled. Find out how we can pick 700,000 tonnes of plastic up off the sea floor in our documentary, made possible by G-Star, The Plastic Age.