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Published May 26, 2011
Southwest Fire Summary(updated 5/20/11)
Data Source(s): Southwest Coordination Center
The Southwest has experienced extremely high fire activity since the beginning of the year, particularly in southeastern and southern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona (Figures 9a–c). Live fuels such as grasses, shrubs, and trees have been extremely dry as a result of short-term drought conditions that began around November. Record low temperatures in February also contributed to the build-up of fire fuels because the hard freezes killed many plants and desiccated many others that survived the freezes. Strong winds also have heightened fire danger across the Southwest in recent months.
Predictive Services at the Southwest Coordination Center reports more than 500 fires have charred nearly 350,000 acres in New Mexico since January 1. The number of acres burned this year already has surpassed New Mexico’s annual average of 242,000. Arizona has not burned as badly as New Mexico. Almost 77,000 acres have burned so far, most of which are located in the southeastern corner of the state. Fire activity this year has been more severe than last year in both states. By May 2010, only 3,800 acres in Arizona and 13,350 acres in New Mexico had burned.
Most fires have been caused by human activity this year, including the Miller fire, the largest fire in the Southwest to date this season. The blaze started on April 28 in the Gila National Forest, 25 miles north of Silver City, NM. As of May 23, it had burned more than 81,000 acres and was less than 50 percent contained. Due to difficult terrain, this fire may not be fully contained until the end of August.Notes:
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.
The CLIMAS Web site contains official and non-official forecasts, as well as other information. While we make every effort to verify this information, please understand that we do not warrant the accuracy of any of these materials.... Read full disclaimer