NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Wildfires have scorched lands throughout New Mexico and burn scars left behind leave communities prone to flooding. A scientist from Los Alamos National Lab explains what exactly causes it.
Scientists explain one factor behind the flooding is similar to when you wax a car and water beads form. They say the water can bead up on the burn scar and wash off.
Hydrologist Adam Atchley says another contributor is the rain directly hitting the soil. He says without vegetation to break the fall, the impact forces soil into the ground’s natural pores and creates a solid surface for the water to run across.
Atchley says the long-term impact from the wildfires has yet to be determined. “For at least a long time we hadn’t seen fires of this size across this much of the west, but what we can say is it will have a really big effect to hydrology, watersheds, erosion as well as we’ll likely see more floods,” Atchley said.
You can view a video from Los Alamos National Labs explaining the process at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9yEERskots