Weather ripe for fire danger, relief draws near

Posted at: 06/16/2013 10:56 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The state has caught a break in recent days with more humidity, lower winds, and cooler temperatures - a chance to slow down wildfires and get them under control, but it looks like that could be changing by mid-week.

A firefighters' nightmare: Strong west winds, lower humidity, higher temperatures - a return to blast-furnace weather that could result in contained fires jumping the lines and uncontained fires going wild.

Federal forecasters at the Southwest Coordination Center see that coming Wednesday and Thursday.

"Looks like we have another hotter and drier period coming up starting in the middle of the week for a few days, but it's tough to get the moisture out of here once it's here - so that's one thing we've noticed through the years - unless you have strong southwest-west winds it's real difficult to get this moisture out of New Mexico," Rich Naden, a fire meteorologist, said.

Last year 380 fires burned 357,000 thousand acres, and this year here have been more fires in the state, but only a fraction of the acres burned.

"We had some timely moist events in April and May and brief cooler periods also helped - and those things all combined with the luck of the human draw to produce a slower season," Naden explained.

But while the state is at the peak of fire danger the end is in sight. The federal forecasters say the signs are pointing to fire season ending in the first week of July with the arrival of cooler wetter air from the Gulf of Mexico.