Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Hard Wind

I've been encouraged by reports in the past few days that intensity of the Horseshoe Two Fire burning in the Chiricahuas has, for the most part, been carefully managed to achieve a low-to-moderate burn in many of our most treasured locales. The balance between a controlled and a rampant fire, between hope and fear, between panic and calm, has been delicate. The skills of the Type 1 teams and all the support staff have been pitted against the exceedingly dry conditions--and the wind. Always the wind.

Reed Peters reports that today's briefing to the firefighters was more somber than most, because of the danger posed by today's continuing strong wind. It is expected to blow from the southwest at 15-25 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph.

Fire Map on 30 May 2011 (Photos by Wynne Brown)

The main concern is holding the fire line between Saulsbury Saddle and West Turkey Creek, so that it doesn't jump into Pinery Canyon or Whitetail Canyon. One Whitetail resident, Wynne, was cautioned that Whitetail may have to be evacuated if the fire breaches Saulsbury Saddle. In addition, should that happen, the burn size could be as large as 100,000 acres. (Right now it stands at about 60,000 acres.)

High winds will ground even the big helicopters, thus hampering efforts to hold the fire line.

Detail of the Saulsbury Saddle-West Turkey Creek area

Reed writes, "The constant smoke in Portal has been an added factor to everyone's unease. Most nights this past week there was an inversion, with the smoke lying thick in the canyon during the night, and lifting somewhat during the day."

If the fire can be held today, the next few days are forecast to be calmer, so we should get some respite.

The ranchers say that a windy spring is forerunner to a summer monsoon, rather than summer drought. If that truism holds, and the amount of wind is any indication, the monsoon of 2011 should be a humdinger.

A post script: the fire lines held, even with wind gusting in excess of 45 mph! Very good.

1 comment:

  1. Awoke this morning to a smoke free morning with beautiful views of the Chiricahua Mountains and in the middle of all this, a outdoor wedding took place Saturday evening in the valley. Life continues.