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Microburst in Glacier Gorge RMNP

Information on peaks other than the CO 14ers and 13ers.
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Microburst in Glacier Gorge RMNP

Postby thebeave7 » Sat Dec 17, 2011 8:07 pm

Just a heads up to anyone planning a trip to Longs via the Trough/Glacier Gorge, Black Lake, West Face Gulley or anywhere in Upper Glacier Gorge. Apparently there was a Microburst or some other very localized wind event that leveled hundreds of trees between Mills Lake and Black Lake right in the middle of the valley. The valley is so choked with deadfall and debris now that its nearly impassable down low (without a LOT of patients). Rangers said a few skiers have been traversing high above the valley to get around, but there really isn't any other way to get to Black Lake.

Just a heads up for anyone heading in that direction. Trails up to the deadfall are very well packed down, no need for snow shoes, I went running around all over the place in trail runners and microspikes, great conditions and a fantastic day up high.

Image
A view of a small section of the deadfall in Glacier Gorge

Eric
Me fail English? That's unpossible. http://www.ericjlee.com/Blogs

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Re: Microburst in Glacier Gorge RMNP

Postby Kiefer » Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:24 pm

WOW! :shock:
Thanks for the head's up, Eric. Was thinking of heading up there tomorrow morning after work but might consider somewhere else now.
"Wisdom comes from making mistakes.
Experience, is the knowledge of knowing what to do when one makes a mistake and wisdom,
stems from the changes we go through while learning from those mistakes."

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Re: Microburst in Glacier Gorge RMNP

Postby timstich » Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:54 am

My friend Erik was up there climbing and had this to say:

"Not a cloud in the sky. Thanks to the hurricane force winds."

Microburst you say. Anyone know what other weather phenomenon might be responsible for that wind? Could it be down slope winds coming off the Divide? There's a cool display at NCAR in Boulder that explains how the jet stream can fluctuate and dip down after passing over mountains way low and cause ferocious winds. The profile of the winds looks line a sine wave where the turbulence caused by the mountains makes the amplitude of the waves much larger. So the downward dip comes right down to the ground.

For that matter, what do they think caused the blowdown in the Spanish Creek drainage below Kit Carson peak? Wow, now that is a massive event that happened there.

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Re: Microburst in Glacier Gorge RMNP

Postby noreaster » Sun Dec 18, 2011 7:56 am

These weather events are unreal. Here's a video off my security camera of the tornado that hit western Massachusetts mid year. In a matter of 2 seconds, all trees went down. If anyone needs firewood really really bad, send an 18-wheeler across the country, lol.

http://www.crashingshutter.com/f3/tornado1.wmv

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Re: Microburst in Glacier Gorge RMNP

Postby Gahugafuga » Sun Dec 18, 2011 8:20 am

timstich wrote:There's a cool display at NCAR in Boulder that explains how the jet stream can fluctuate and dip down after passing over mountains way low and cause ferocious winds. The profile of the winds looks line a sine wave where the turbulence caused by the mountains makes the amplitude of the waves much larger. So the downward dip comes right down to the ground.

For that matter, what do they think caused the blowdown in the Spanish Creek drainage below Kit Carson peak? Wow, now that is a massive event that happened there.


Once got to see this phenomenon at Kirkwood Ski Area in CA. You could literally see the wind gust proceed down the mountain because skiers were getting knocked over like dominoes. The nearby weather station clocked a 128mph gust that day. As for Spanish Creek, that's west-facing and wouldn't be subject to the same effect, barring a complete reversal of the jet stream. I'd therefore conclude that that blowdown was caused by strong winds! :mrgreen:

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Re: Microburst in Glacier Gorge RMNP

Postby tmathews » Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:44 am

timstich wrote:Microburst you say. Anyone know what other weather phenomenon might be responsible for that wind?


Hey, Tim, did you live in Colorado Springs back in 1997 when we had the "Blizzard of '97"? The Mt. Zirkel wilderness up near Steamboat Springs experienced a massive blowdown event (about 150 square miles) as a result from the same storm. It was a long-established old growth forest. I remember some discussion about it and the theories around the cause of it. Prevailing winds in the US blow from west to east and so tree root systems are basically built to withstand these typical types of winds, but the storm caused hurricane-force winds to blow from the east for several hours which resulted in the blowdown event. It wouldn't surprise me if something like this caused the event in Spanish Creek as well.

Here's some information I found on the Mt. Zirkel blowdown event, if you're interested: http://www.cora.nwra.com/~snook/blowdown.html

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Re: Microburst in Glacier Gorge RMNP

Postby mike_kadow » Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:29 am

Over the December 3rd weekend, I was told winds were consistently over 60 mph and hit 100+ at times in RMNP.
Given the rotting of many trees, I suspected that's what caused this up and down the front range. :-k

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