Brief by Allen Best
Climate – April 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine
As winter concludes, Colorado is a study in contrast. While people in small mountain towns like Red Cliff, which is located in the Vail neighborhood, are scrambling to get flood insurance, dust fills the skies 150 miles to the south in the San Luis Valley, where the Great Sand Dunes National Park is located.
To the west, in the San Juan mountains, the snowpack is so sketchy that the specter of 2002 — the worst drought year in about 300 years — is being cited. The Durango Herald reports that the San Juan, Animas and Dolores river basins have a snowpack that is only 41 percent of the historical average. What made 2002 so devastating, however, was a snow- less March and a hot, dry, and windy April that caused a rapid spring runoff.