Yep. We are. And it’s not the good kind. We got up yesterday to falling ash. There is something deeply unsettling about stepping outside at any point during the day and seeing and smelling smoke.
Don’t you hate it when you’re sure you’ve ranted about something but then you can’t find it? Ya. Me too.
One of the topics that’s taken up a lot of my time through the years is fire. So much so, that while I remember very clearly planning to write about it, it appears I didn’t actually do it, for some unknown reason. Maybe it’s because it’s too depressing.
Last year, I wrote about being in a dry spell. It was really bad. My town recorded the driest start to the year since record keeping began in 1895, with a whopping .09 of precipitation from January 1 to May 12. When you normally get around nearly 13 inches of annual precipitation but only get 5.56 for the entire year, you know you are in trouble. It was no wonder we had bears in town!
And, it was hot. We spent from May on to September at least being mostly 100 degrees or hotter most days. I know some records will say we only had 60 days of 100+ weather, but their data stations aren’t in my backyard. We had a stretch of almost a month where it was around 110 every day, and daily highs were over 105. (Now, you people in Texas and Arizona, I know had it worse, so everything actually is relative…………..)
The year started off with a cold snap in February, that brought daily highs of -11; lows of -14. No, I’m not joking. The last time I remember that kind of cold was 16 years ago when we lived in NE Colorado. We here in the desert are used to daily swings of 50 degrees. But that cold was brutal, as was the heat and drought that followed.
You may remember the Las Conchas fire last year that threatened the Los Alamos National Laboratories. To date, it was the largest fire the state had seen, at 156, 593 acres.
Las Conchas fire pictures here.
However bad we thought that was, it doesn’t come close to the Whitewater Baldy Complex fire. As of this morning, it has consumed 278,039 acres and is only 32% contained. There are 738 people engaged in fighting this fire. Growth potential is high. This fire is part of the Gila National Forest, where most recently, ultra marathon runner Micah True (of the book Born to Run fame) passed away in the Gila Wilderness; which is now on fire.
You can see more pictures here.
The fire raining ash on my house yesterday, is a baby fire in comparison at this point. It’s the Little Bear fire. As of this morning, it’s got 26,000 acres and is 0% contained. This is all rugged, mountain terrain. All of our favorite campgrounds have been evacuated. I don’t know if they’ve burned or not. There’s conflicting word regarding a church camp, church, and surrounding homes on the complex. We know people whose homes have been lost. My aunt and uncle used to have a cabin up there.
I’ve heard that the church and church camp are lost, but I’ve also heard the church is ok. Seeing as a good friend’s brother-in-law is the pastor there, I am sure I’ll be able to get updates once people can get in. It’s heartbreaking. The church and camp there are closely tied to the community here, and many, many people I’m friends with have cabins up there. The Ruidoso Free Press reports the church and campground have been “compromised.”
For more pictures (where I got the one above) and updates, I’ve been checking out the Southeastern New Mexico Weather Web Page.
We’re under a red flag warning, too. This means sustained winds of 20 mph with gusts up to 40 mph. NOT good help for fighting fires.
And, for the record, we’re still in a drought, although rumor has it that El Nino may be showing up soon. We can only pray.
Picture courtesy of MSNBC.