Recent rains have reduced the spread of New Mexico’s wildfires, but now residents living downstream of scar areas are bracing for flooding during the monsoon season.
The danger of flash flooding is high with this week’s rainy afternoons. The Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response team, or BAER is discussing risks for people who live near the Pecos Wilderness where the Jaroso Fire has burned more than 11,000 acres. The BAER ecosystems staff officer for the Santa Fe National Forest is Jon T. Williams. He says the team has been analyzing the extent of damage from the Jaroso fire burn scar and its flooding potential. He describes why residents downstream should seek higher ground when they hear a thunderstorm is coming.
“We’re mainly trying to eliminate raindrop impacts on an unprotected soil, which causes accelerated erosion; and once you get that erosion going, and sedimentation, it starts moving downhill gaining momentum, and gravity takes over and it becomes a pretty dangerous situation.”
The threat of flooding will last for at least the next three months, according to a BAER team spokesperson. The BAER team is made up of experts from many disciplines, including forestry, vegetation, fish, wildlife, soil and watershed. Weather forecasters are predicting more thunderstorms will head into the state by this weekend, increasing the chances for damage from flooding.