Saturday, May 4, 2013

Ongoing drought poses high fire risk, poor outlook for state’s crops

When it comes to chile, red is good. When it comes to drought outlook and wildfire risk maps of New Mexico, red is very bad indeed, especially for the state’s farmers. On recent maps, much of the state is colored deep red through at least midsummer, indicating the state faces higher than normal drought conditions and higher than average wildfire potential. The May and June wildfire risk maps show the north central part of the state, as well as large swaths of Central and Western New Mexico, more ripe than usual for a blaze, according to the Predictive Services arm of the National Interagency Coordination Center in Boise, Idaho. By July and August, the state’s wildfire potential is predicted to ease. Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor map released April 30, the portion of the state in exceptional drought — the highest level — more than quadrupled in the last week in April. Northern New Mexico parciantes — irrigators — are already feeling the pinch, expecting mostly dry acequias through the summer. Based on the latest information about soil moisture, stream flows and expected precipitation, the drought in the state is expected to only get worse through the summer. Color that a very dry brown on the drought prediction map. Stream flows on the upper and middle Rio Grande and on the upper Pecos were less than half of normal in April. Elephant Butte Irrigation District is receiving even less inflow than predicted. The district oversees water distributions to 8,500 Southern New Mexico farmers, who are looking at receiving less than 0.3 acre-feet of irrigation water per acre of farmland. “Normally, we would deliver 3 acre-feet per acre,” said district manager Gary Esslinger. “This year, we have enough for one irrigation, and that’s it.” Esslinger said until now, a few dry years in the 1950s were the drought of record for the project. “This drought, which started in 2003, may surpass that record,” he said...more

Ongoing drought poses high fire risk, poor outlook for state’s crops Images

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