Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Smoke from Jemez Mountains Controlled Burn Impacts Albuquerque

The fire was caused by lightening in the foothills of the Jemez Mountains more than two weeks ago. Instead of suppressing the fire, managers have used the smoldering blaze to burn out undergrowth and unhealthy Ponderosa thickets. While the forest is moist enough to preclude any danger of catastrophic fire, that moisture may also increase the amount of smoke.

Last night smoke from the fire drained down the Jemez River valley and into the Albuquerque metro area. By this morning the smog was visible as a distinct haze in the valley. Clear skies and dry air probably helped establish an inversion that contained the smoke within the valley. The smoke quickly dissipated once daytime convection began.

ABQ Journal Photo
The Albuquerque branch of the National Weather Service noted that the "smoke event" this morning was "dense" and "impactful".  Some politicians have used the smoke to argue against this type of forest restoration.

 The NWS does not expect smoke to be as bad today as it was yesterday. But on a recent update to Inciweb, fire managers note that "hand and aerial ignitions will be used again today to direct the wildfire over an area similar in size to yesterday’s activity. Large columns of smoke from this ignition will be visible..."

Current air quality information can be found at

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