What is in this article?:
- Dry year shaping up as fire concern rises
- Remembering the Dust Bowl years
The first quarter of the year is one of New Mexico's driest starts ever for the first two-plus months of any year on record.
Remembering the Dust Bowl years
Guyer also talked about intensifying dry soil and gusty spring winds across eastern New Mexico that will continue to create dust storm conditions.
Last week heavy blowing sand storms roared across part of the Texas Panhandle and officials said it was not dust kicked up from Texas fields but was New Mexico dirt riding heavy winds from the west.
"We have seen significant blowing dust events this year, more so than in several decades, even during years with exceptional dry weather conditions. Our dust blowing season usually peaks around mid-to-late April or early May, so we are experiencing major dust events to be so early in the season," Guyer said.
While drought conditions are expected to continue, forecasters are saying even with the limited rain to start the spring season, hope remains. Guyer says the official forecast calls for are equal chances of precipitation over the new few months.
"And there are those out there that have conducted studies that show it may not be such a dry spring after all because we are seeing some signs of the development of an El Nino system forming in the eastern Pacific, and this does have some affect on what happens here in New Mexico, especially as we approach the cool season and going into winter next year," he said.
Guyer says farmers and ranchers can get up to date drought reports on the NWS Albuquerque website at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/?n=drought. Here you can also study climate data and get the latest forecast for the region.
Meanwhile, as conditions continue to dry heading into April, state and federal fire officials are warning it could be another active wildfire season. NWS Albuquerque issued a hazardous weather outlook last week warning of dangerous fire conditions, especially in northern and central parts of the state. Forecasters say the most critical fire conditions exist from the central highlands to the northeast plains.
Nationwide, a very active fire year is forecast. As of this writing there were six large fires burning nationwide, two in Texas, two in Oklahoma and one in California. But of greater significance is the number of wildfires, large and small, reported between Jan. 1 through Mar. 21 this year.
A total of 9,483 fires have been reported so far this year compared to only 5,962 for the same period last year. This year the number of acres burned totaled about 128,000 acres, more than double the number of acres burned last year during the same period.
The worst first quarter period for wildfires in recent memory occurred in 2006 when nearly 1.8 million acres were burned by more than 17,000 fires for the period Jan. 1 through Mar. 21.