Fire Forecasting

POSTED: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - 5:11pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - 5:12pm

RUIDOSO -  Spring is the driest time of the year in this part of the country, and it's been over two months since there has been any rain in the area.  This is also the "windy season" and the lack of rain has with the stronger winds have left growth from last year dry, mostly brown and ripe for fires.

When fires start, often they can grow rapidly in the mountains where there is more plentiful fuel for fires and strong winds to fan the flames.  As the fires grow, controlling the spread of the fires becomes a huge job and could be potentially deadly if the fire takes an unexpected turn and traps firefighters.   Predicting how the winds will change is vital to protecting the safety of the firefighters and to develop the best plan on how to deal with the fire and minimize any loss of property.

That's where the National Weather Services Incident Meteorologists come in to the picture.  In our area, Tom Bird of the Santa Teresa NWS steps in and goes to the site of wildfires to give forecasts in real-time.  Tom has been responding to natural and man-made disasters for the past 10 years.  Over those years, Tom has been giving up to date forecasts to emergency managers on the scene of many of our nation's biggest disasters.  He was on site at for Hurricane Katrina, the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill from last summer and numerous wildfires across our area.  

He says that there is usually at least one very big wildfire every year in this region.  Even after the latest fire is out, the wildfire season continues through June when the dry and windy conditions will continue. 

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