New Mexico is expecting more warm, dry and windy weather this week — conditions that may not bode well for wildfires burning throughout the state.
Scott Overpeck, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Albuquerque, said the agency has issued statewide wind advisories and fire danger warnings for Tuesday and Wednesday.
“It’s going to be dry, but it’s really going to be the winds that are the driver for the fire weather conditions,” Overpeck said.
The Big Hole Fire in the bosque near Belen started burning Monday afternoon.
The fire had spread to both sides of the Rio Grande north of River Road by the evening and spurred evacuations.
Tuesday in Albuquerque is expected to hit a high of 68 degrees.
Wind gusts could reach 45 mph in the city.
Eastern New Mexico areas of Tucumcari and Clayton could experience wind gusts nearing 60 mph.
“These are going to be some of the stronger winds that we are expecting for the spring so far,” Overpeck said. “We need to take this seriously with these kinds of wind gusts, especially in the higher terrain and where we have some of those wildfires going.”
The Hermit’s Peak Fire has burned more than 700 acres in the Santa Fe National Forest northwest of Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Crews continue to contain the Overflow Fire southeast of Roswell.
That fire had burned about 2,000 acres as of Monday afternoon.
Temperatures are expected to drop statewide on Wednesday, but gusty winds could linger.
Albuquerque is forecast to have a low of 31 degrees and high of 59. Wind gusts of 30 mph are possible in the afternoon.
“Blowing dust will probably be another issue,” Overpeck said.
Thursday temperatures should rebound across New Mexico. Albuquerque could reach a high of 69 degrees.
Friday could hit 77 degrees in the metro area, and weekend temperatures could push into the 80s.
Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the .