Deadly South Fork Fire Destroys 1400 Buildings, Rain Complicates Cleanup

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23 Jun 2024 1:30 AM

The South Fork fire started Monday, June 17th near Ruidoso, NM growing rapidly under hot and dry conditions. The entire town of Ruidoso, NM (around 8,000 people) was evacuated on Monday. Over 1400 structures were lost due to the flames, which ripped through this community in southern New Mexico. Sadly, two people have lost their lives due to the flames. The fire is over 24k acres large with 0% containment and over 800 firefighters on the blaze.

Moving forward, the concern will be for gusty outflow winds around nearby thunderstorms that will make for challenging firefighting activities due to unpredictable winds and fire activity. Rain could also create mudslides and debris flow along with gusty winds around the storms that create chaotic fire behavior. Flood alerts are in effect to account for the flash flood threat.

Monsoon season officially began on June 15th, meaning a change in the wind direction that supports more widespread, heavy rainfall in the Southwest. Both Pacific and Gulf moisture impact the Southwest through the summer, working with higher elevations to spur daily showers and storms. This is when the Southwest sees its most meaningful moisture.

Monsoonal showers and thunderstorms will continue through the weekend, elevating flash flood concerns every day, especially where we see repeated rounds of rain. Some of these storms could be severe with 1" or larger hail and an isolated tornado threat. Please have multiple ways to get severe weather warnings throughout the next few days.

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