Bizarre Dust Stains Snow-Capped Rockies

Dust could leave crops dehydrated by late summer
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2009 3:37 PM CDT
Bizarre Dust Stains Snow-Capped Rockies
Dust blows from the dry bed of Dillon Reservoir in Dillon, Colo. Low snowpack and dry conditions have created a serious drought in the west.   (Getty Images)

A veil of dust coating the snowcapped Colorado Rockies is accelerating river runoff and has farmers scrambling to avoid an arid crop season, the Los Angeles Times reports. An unusually high number of dust storms and unseasonably warm temperatures have caused rivers to swell near flood stage. “It creates a high-pressured game of Twister for water managers,” said an expert.

Scientists blame off-road vehicles, mountain bikers, and energy exploration for kicking up the dust, which has turned the snow brown and red and can speed up snowmelt by a month. Levels are five times the norm, but so far, ski resorts aren’t worried. Marveled one rep, “You'd ski, turn around and look at your tracks, and they'd be red chocolate.”
(Read more Colorado stories.)

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