New Mexico’s Day of Devastation: Fires, Floods, and Hailstorms Collide

New Mexico has endured a harrowing week, facing both fire and flood. Just days after fast-moving fires tore through drought-stricken landscapes and communities, a tropical storm swept north, bringing torrential rain and golf ball-sized hail to the freshly burned slopes.

As these duelling extremes collided, charred debris flowed into neighbourhoods, firefighting crews were temporarily evacuated, and emergency officials shifted from fire support to flood rescues. Strong winds compounded the chaos, lifting dried soils into one of the largest dust storms the state has ever witnessed.

In the arid southwest, where fire risks typically rise with spring temperatures and are quelled by summer monsoons, such weather patterns aren’t unusual. However, the climate crisis has intensified these conditions, leading to more frequent and severe catastrophes.

Dr. Jeremy Klass, recovery and mitigation bureau chief of New Mexico’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, remarked, “We are used to these disasters, but I don’t think this agency has ever dealt with anything like this. We are dealing with two disasters right on top of one another.”

The South Fork and Salt fires, currently at 0% containment, continue to burn, with communities in the south bracing for more rain. After igniting on the Mescalero Apache Reservation, the fires quickly spread, scorching over 23,400 acres and destroying neighbourhoods.

Officials estimate that 1,400 structures have been lost to the flames, with the final count of burned buildings still underway. Tragically, at least two people died while fleeing the fires, and roughly 8,000 people have been displaced, anxiously awaiting news of what remains of their homes when they are allowed to return. Read More

News Credit: The Guardian

Picture Credit:  Pam Bonner/AP

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