Sporadic rain showers that rolled across New Mexico on Saturday didn’t generate enough precipitation to realize fears of flash flooding in burn-scarred areas, the National Weather Service said.
And though rainfall totals from widespread tropical moisture had not reached an inch anywhere in the state as of 6 p.m. Saturday, Dwight Koehn, a hydro-meteorological technician with the weather bureau in Albuquerque, said this weekend’s precipitation was helping firefighters mop up forest fires.
“It’s been a gentle event, so it hasn’t had any negative impact,” said Koehn. “No big runoff threats.”
Amanda Rael, spokeswoman for the fire management team handling the lightning-caused San Antonio Fire on the Valles Caldera National Preserve, said rain had been “kind of light” in that area of the Jemez Mountains, where the size of the burn stood at about 500 acres as of Saturday evening.
Meanwhile, the Ute Park Fire, which scorched over 36,000 acres since its start on May 31, was 97 percent contained as of Saturday. The cause of that fire is still unknown.
A spokeswoman for crews fighting that fire, Patricia Corral, said there were no reports of flash flooding either at that site or at the Cottonwood Fire, which started on Thursday about 12 miles north of Cimarron and was 80 percent contained as of Saturday evening.
The weekend moisture is a byproduct of Tropical Storm Bud, which at one time reached Category 4 hurricane strength over the Pacific Ocean before it came ashore at the southern end of the Baja California Peninsula on Thursday morning.
The rain came as welcome relief from drought during what is normally a hot, dry month in New Mexico.
Chuck Jones, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said that while his bureau had received multiple reports of lightning strikes, none had ignited new fires.
Much of the heaviest rain on Saturday fell on the east side of the state.
Koehn expected Sunday’s weather will be sunny and warm for the most part, although he said there is some chance of another storm affecting New Mexico’s northeastern plains sometime Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Santa Fe National Forest officials issued a statement Saturday thanking the public for mostly adhering to a forestwide closure that went into effect on June 1 due to fire hazards.
“In comparison to the number of visitors we can receive in a typical summer, the number of violations is actually low,” James Melonas, forest supervisor, said in a news release, noting that agents had issued 10 written warnings, 23 violations and many oral warnings.
Melonas said some people are still parking their vehicles along state roads within the forest — including Hyde Park Road — and then entering the forest, which is a violation.
“The bottom line is, when the forest is closed to the general public, it means no access,” he said.