ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – We’re only coming into the second month of the year, but it’s not too early to think about fire season. It’s also on the minds of the New Mexico State Forestry Fire Management Office. While they say it’s too early to make any kind of accurate predictions, if the current precipitation trends continue as they were in January, it may make for a moderate fire season in the high country areas of the state.
Everything is still dependent on changing weather conditions, and the ever-present spring winds and increasing temperatures which dry out items for fire fuels. They said if the precipitation and snow levels taper off in the month of February, combined with rising temperatures and increasing winds, mid-elevations such as 9,000 and lower will dry out faster. That could make conditions ripe for items like logs, twigs and pine needles to become perfect fuel for forest fires.
As for terrain in the high country, the State Forestry Fire Management Office says if snow and precipitation stay at current levels or higher, it will help curb the danger to fire season. Fire dangers in the low country are almost always expected because once a fire is ignited, the ever present dry grass fuels are the primary source for what’s burned. In this situation, they say snow is preferred because it will help compact the grass and create less fire intensity and ways for it to spread.
“I think with the mountain snow it’s going to take a while for it to melt,” said Robert Morales, New Mexico State Forestry Fire Management Officer. “But it all depends on the temperatures in the early spring and then the winds, I mean, we can have a lot of snow, but it can sure disappear fast.”
Morales also adds that even if the final outlook is favorable for a light to moderate fire season, they still encourage people to use caution with fire in wooded areas.