07 June 2011

Lipstick Sunset

Smoky Sunset, Magdalena, NM, June 2011
Our sunsets have been dark since last week because of the heavy smoke streaming northwest from the Wallow Fire, now Arizona's second-largest wildfire ever, having burned 390,000+ acres so far and remaining completely uncontained. Several mountain towns including Alpine and Greer have been evacuated, and as the fire burns northward about half of the people in the larger community of Eagar (pop. 4000) are now under evacuation orders, with those in Springerville (pop. 6500 or so) likely next. Just over the border into New Mexico, people in and around the small town of Luna will also likely have to head out soon. Much of western and north-central New Mexico, including Magdalena, has been intermittently choked with the fire's heavy smoke -- even in Albuquerque, more than 200 miles away from the fire, smoke has dropped visibility below 2 miles at times and is causing serious health problems for some people. The image below, from NASA's Earth Observatory page, shows part of the massive smoke plume, which will not abate until the fire is contained or the summer rains begin. Neither appears likely to happen anytime soon.

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