The burn scar of the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon fire pictured Thursday, June 9, 2022. (Photo by Patrick Lohmann / Source New Mexico)
The National Weather Service got at least seven reports of flooding over the weekend in the scar of the biggest fire in state history.
Residents of northern New Mexico have been watching rain clouds with a sense of dread since the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon wildfire burned more than 340,000 acres of the Santa Fe National Forest since April.
The fire, thanks in part to monsoon rains, is 93% contained.
But rain is a blessing and a curse. Soils that went through high-intensity burn can’t absorb moisture, so monsoon rains can quickly become floods that carry debris and silt.
Beginning Friday afternoon, rainfall wreaked havoc in areas like Rociada and Holman, according to the National Weather Service reports.
The seven reports provided by residents to the NWS mention waters rushing over highways causing closures, and a barn in Tierra Monte was flooded.
Source New Mexico has put together a map of where flooding reports were called in within the burn scar. It’s drawn from the NWS reports and the most-recent fire perimeter map produced by the National Interagency Fire Center.
Annette Mokry, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said the precipitation stopped more or less by Saturday.
“I don’t think it was a worst-case scenario,” she said. “The heaviest rain that I’m aware of kind of fell in somewhat of a more localized couple of areas.”
One gauge near Gascon recorded 2 inches of rain, she said.
“That was a localized amount,” she said. “If the entire scar were to get that much then, Oh, my God.”
She doesn’t mean to dismiss the damage and the fear some faced over the weekend, however. The Weather Service will continue to monitor and accept reports of flooding throughout the monsoon season.
“For the people affected, though? It probably seemed like worst-case to them,” she said. “I don’t want to minimize.”
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