Science | May 8, 2022 6:00 am

Wildfires Threaten All of New Mexico and Much of the Southwest

A perfect storm of alarming weather

Dropping water
A “Super Scooper” drops water along NM Highway 283.
USDA Forest Service

The fifth-largest state in the nation (in terms of area) is currently under what its governor described as a “Critical Fire Weather Warning.” The state is New Mexico, the governor is Michelle Lujan Grisham, and the fires are numerous. Think that sounds worrisome? It gets worse from there. New Mexico isn’t alone in facing a heightened risk of wildfires — according to a new Washington Post article, pretty much the entire Southwest is.

Northern New Mexico is currently dealing with two distinct wildfires — the Calf Canyon fire and the Cerro Pelado fire, of which the former was the state’s second-largest wildfire ever. Weather conditions in the coming days could heighten both and lead to even more wildfires, both in New Mexico and in the region around it.

A recent article in The New York Times chronicled the parts of New Mexico currently dealing with the wildfires — which included devastating a community that’s lived in the region for hundreds of years. As for when people who have evacuated might be able to return home, that depends on the weather. As experts quoted in the Times article point out, the monsoon season is still several months away.

It’s a bad enough situation right now — and with the weather in the area being what it is, the potential exists for it to get much, much worse.