Three Rivers Fire – Weather & Fire Behavior

Ruidoso, New Mexico, May 2, 2021 – Dan Pearson, Three Rivers Fire Behavior Analyst, is responsible for
collecting weather data, predicting fire growth, and developing strategic and tactical fire behavior
information. He looks at the interaction of topography, fuels, and weather to determine what the fire’s effects
will be. All this critical information is used by incident managers to formulate a strategic plan of attack on the
fire.

When the fire started, it was driven by powerful winds, low relative humidity, and high temperatures. A
reconnaissance flight indicated the fire had stayed along the mountain crest and upper third of the slopes. The
prevailing winds made a push sending embers to the trees downwind and into the surrounding areas.
The following day, April 27, a weather system came through, which raised the relative humidity, increased
cloud cover, and provided precipitation which stopped the fire from burning in the grasses.


With the precipitation that we have seen over the last couple of days, little smoke is currently being seen.
However, this reconnaissance flight was taken at 11:00 am yesterday, while most active fire occurs from 1:00
pm – 4:00 pm. An additional reconnaissance flight will be taken to identify any areas that may not have been
visible on the initial flight.


Not everything within the fire perimeter has burned. Grasses and some areas of timber remain unaffected with
a mosaic of green vegetation. Now that the weather has cleared, much of the fire perimeter is easily accessible
allowing firefighters to continue to fight the fire. Other areas that are challenging and unsafe for firefighters to
access will continue to be monitored and plans are being developed to address areas of concern.


It is important to note that there are still areas of combustion and potential of smoke. It is possible with Red
Flag conditions today that the weather could potentially stir up smoldering fires. There might be some
movement of the fire as it continues to consume unburned vegetation within the perimeter. Additional smoke
is predicted, and with the southwest winds, the public may see and smell smoke, especially in the northeast
area of Ruidoso. Firefighters are prepared for this increase of fire activity.

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