Wet Mountains of Colorado

September 05, 2009

20090905 - Wet Mountains of Colorado

Photographer: James Van Gundy
Summary Author: James Van Gundy

The photo above shows a summer downpour over the appropriately named Wet Mountains, just west of Walsenburg, Colorado. The Wet Mountains get their name from the heavy precipitation they receive both as rainfall during the summer months and snowfall during winter. Apparently, both the Spanish and Indian names for the range translate as "Wet Mountains." Precipitation on the windward side of mountain ranges typically results when air is forced upward as it passes over a topographic barrier (orographic lift). As the air mass is lifted, it expands and is cooled adiabatically (without transfer of heat) until condensation and precipitation occurs.

The Wet Mountains are one of the six distinct mountain ranges (Wet Mountains, Front Range, Sangre de Cristo Range, Park Range, Sawatch Range, and the San Juans) that make the Rocky Mountain system in Colorado. The highest peak in the Wet Mountains is Greenhorn Mountain at 12,347 ft (3,763 m), which is named for the Comanche Chieftain “Greenhorn,” who was defeated and killed by the Spanish Governor “Anza” in 1779 during one of the largest battles of the early American West. Photo taken on June 30, 2009.

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