Colorado Rock Slide Part of Larger Pattern?

Scene of Rock slide

A recent rock slide in Colorado has killed five people, leaving one girl as the soul survivor. Gracie Johnson was saved by her father, who shielded the girl from the on coming barrage of boulders. While the effort to recover the remaining bodies is under way, there appears to be confusion as to why the rock slide happened in the first place. The U.S Forest Service, which oversees the area, did not anticipate any potential weather emergencies in the area. Although the trail along Agnes Vaille Falls in Nathrop is regularly  recommended to tourists, hikers have reported falling rocks are common. However, in the last year the Colorado has seen shifting weather patterns that qualify as bizzare.

In the past year, the Boulder Colorado area has seen a severe drought and the worst wildfire on record. Despite this, Boulder went on to accrue over 17.7 inches of rain fall in the month of September, crushing the previous record of 9.59 inches set in May of 1995. In fact the flooding broke  Boulder’s “yearly record for precipitation—with more than three months left in the year,” according to Bryan Walsh.  Could the rock slide be related to the massive rainfall in Boulder?

With very little data at this moment, it would be sensationalism to merely assume that the two events are the result of climate change, determining whether an event is really attributable to climate change is process that can take years of sober investigation.  Nevertheless, meteorologist for The South Carolina Department of Health and  Environmental Control points out that massive rainfall dramatically increases the possibility of a rockslide, so the question is, “Are the two areas close enough in proximity to matter?” Behrend says no.

So if the rock slide in Colorado can’t be connected to the stranger weather patterns in Boulder, what is the cause? Colorado is part of The Four Corners: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona.  Historically, this area is prone to monsoons.  Behrand says it is hypothetically possible the monsoons could have been responsible. Again, until more data is made available, the exact reason will remain conjecture.


Written By David Arroyo


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