Predicted rainfall increases risk of flash flooding in canyons
SANTA FE, New Mexico – June 25, 2022 – The Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger District on the Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) remains closed to the public due to fire activity related to the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon wildfires and potential impacts after the fire, including flash flooding and a dangerous debris flow. Closure Order #10-508, posted here, remains in effect to protect public health and safety.
Hikers and campers all over the Pecos/Las Vegas District, including the popular areas of Pecos Canyon and Dalton Canyon, are violating the ordinance, a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 for individuals and/or imprisonment for not more than six months.
The public safety message is simple: If you are camping or hiking anywhere in the district, but especially in or near drains, please pack up and go home.
Although an early monsoon considerably moderated fire behavior, the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon fires are 78% have been contained and could become active again if dry conditions and critical fire weather return. Persistent rainfall can also expose communities within the fire zone to flash flooding and debris flows from the fire scar.
The weather forecast for this weekend predicts daily showers and thunderstorms starting this afternoon. Rainfall, at times moderate to heavy, will continue intermittently through Sunday and Monday, which could lead to flash flooding.
The Burn Area Emergency Response Team (BAER) on the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon fires is entering Phase 3 of its assessment. Preliminary analysis indicates that the headwaters of the Pecos River are susceptible to flooding after a fire. A rainfall intensity of 1.5 inches per hour would result in a 60% probability of debris flow in most stream reaches and small drainage basins.
The Pecos/Las Vegas District may be able to safely open portions of the east side of the district to the public in the near future.
Current fire information regarding the Hermits Peak and Calf Canyon wildfires is posted on these online platforms: inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8069/; https://www.facebook.com/CalfCanyonHermitsPeak; nmfireinfo.com; tinyurl.com/HermitsYouTube and Santa Fe NF.
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