Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features a false-color photo of the Gila National Forest in southwest New Mexico, where another wildfire erupted on May 13, 2022. The photo shows the area burned by the Black fire, which has now reached more than 130,000 acres.
The fire is now the second largest wildfire burning in the state. More than 600 firefighters are working the blaze, which was eight percent contained at the time this photograph was captured on May 21, 2022.
According to NASA, the state of New Mexico has seen more than half a million acres burned this year in early season wildfires, and forecasters predict that conditions could worsen through the end of May.
“The Black fire began burning in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Area in the Black Range, about 30 miles northwest of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. On May 16, the fire blew up, tripling in size from 18,000 acres to more than 56,000 acres. A blow-up is a sudden increase in fire intensity or rate of spread. The blow-up of the Black fire on May 16 produced a small pyrocumulonimbus cloud as the fire ran east and crossed the Continental Divide,” reports NASA.
The Black fire is just one of several large fires burning in New Mexico. The Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak Fire, which has been burning for six weeks, recently became the largest wildfire in New Mexico history after burning more than 310,000 acres.
The southwestern United States is in the midst of a 22-year megadrought. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, at least 85 percent of New Mexico was experiencing extreme to exceptional drought as of May 19, 2022.
The image was captured by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory