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Published July 25, 2011
Southwest Fire Summary(data through 7/20/11)
Data Source(s): Southwest Coordination Center
Fire conditions have been ripe this year. Low soil and vegetation moisture due to extended periods of scant precipitation, above-average temperatures, and high winds helped make this year the worst fire season since 1990, when record-keeping began. More than 1.85 million acres burned this year through July 20, according to Predictive Services at the Southwest Coordination Center (Figure 8a). The previous record was in 2002, when 1.05 million acres were charred. Most of the fires in Arizona have occurred in the southeast and the White Mountains, while in New Mexico many of the fires have burned in the eastern part of the state (Figures 8b–c).
The onset of the monsoon in many parts of Arizona during the July 4 weekend helped extinguish many of the large wildfires burning across the Southwest, including the Wallow Fire, the largest recorded fire in the history of Arizona. More than 538,000 acres burned in that blaze, which began on May 29 in the White Mountains, eventually spreading across four counties in Arizona and spilling into New Mexico. Only a few small fires have ignited in Arizona since the monsoon began. The Bolt Fire in the Coconino National Forest is currently the largest active fire in Arizona. It has blackened 590 acres since flames first erupted on July 21.
New Mexico on the other hand, has not received much monsoon moisture and continues to experience large wildfires. The Las Conchas Fire is the largest active fire in the Southwest. It began on June 26, 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos and has burned about 157,000 acres.
The fires discussed here have been reported by federal, state, or tribal agencies during 2011. The figures include information both for current fires and for fires that have been suppressed. The top figure shows a table of year-to-date fire information for Arizona and New Mexico. Prescribed burns are not included in these numbers. The bottom two figures indicate the approximate locations of past and present “large” wildland fires and prescribed burns in Arizona and in New Mexico. A “large” fire is defined as a blaze covering 100 acres or more in timber or 300 acres or more in grass or brush. The name of each fire is provided next to the symbol.
These data are obtained from the Southwest Coordination Center website::
Southwest Climate Outlook Staff
- Michael Crimmins, UA Extension Specialist
- Stephanie Doster, Institute of the Environment Editor
- Gregg Garfin, Founding Editor, Institute of the Environment
- Zack Guido, Managing Editor, CLIMAS Associate Staff Scientist
- Nancy J. Selover, Arizona State Climatologist
- Jessica Dollin, CLIMAS Publications Assistant
- Dave Dubois, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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