NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – After a historic year of fires in 2022, New Mexicans are wondering if this year will bring some much-needed relief. Now, national experts have predicted some good news.
The National Interagency Fire Center is forecasting below-normal wildfire potential for much of New Mexico in May and June of 2023. And they predict ‘normal’ potential through the summer.
Last year, a prescribed burn spun out of control in April. It devastated more than 300,000 acres in north-central New Mexico. But this spring, central and western New Mexico is in the green.
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Maps from the National Interagency Fire Center show that much of New Mexico has reduced fire potential for the spring of 2023. Image from NIFC.gov.
Last year’s monsoon was above normal, the National Interagency Fire Center report notes. That means there’s now an “abundance of fine fuel buildup across many areas,” they say. That fuel could lead support fires well into this summer.
Zooming out of New Mexico reveals that across the west coast, El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions have arrived and may develop into a weak El Niño, the report notes. This means much of New Mexico might see relatively low temperatures, increased humidity, and rain.
The regional weather could bring lightning storms earlier than usual – which could spark fires. But the report notes that wet conditions mean lightning-sparked fires are likely to be short-lived.
Southwestern New Mexico, however, might be drier than usual this summer. A weaker monsoon might increase fire risk in the southwestern portion of the state.