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Recent wildlife in New Mexico generated a huge fire cloud known as a pyrocumulonimbus cloud (pyroCb). The intense and massive wildfire caused the pyrocumulonimbus or fire cloud formation. When pyrocumulonimbus clouds occur, you know that there is trouble somewhere. The Calf Canyon-Hermits Peak fire (the wildfire in New Mexico) continues to range across northern New Mexico, entering the second month. The wildfire that occurred recently was the largest fire in the United States and the second-largest fire in New Mexico on record.
The New Mexico wildfire generated a fire cloud or the pyrocumulonimbus cloud on 10th May 2022 in its northern perimeter. The brutal heat from the wildfire created vertical plumes that lofted up smoke and particulates high into the atmosphere. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite photographed the pyrocumulonimbus cloud on 10th May. Below is the image.
The wildfire destroyed several areas spanning more than 270,000 acres east of Santa Fe, it stretched 50 miles (80 kilometers) from its northern to the southern perimeter in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The wildfire was about 29 percent contained, particularly in the south, but continued to range northeast as of 13th May. Thousands of people were evacuated, while several houses, buildings, and infrastructure were damaged. Moro, San Miguel, and Colfax countries were given evacuation orders; the orders also expanded to the ski resort town of Angel Fire.
Around 1,800 firefighters battled the dangerous weather conditions. The massive natural disaster caused high wind speeds and extremely low humidity. The high winds aggravated the condition by helping the fire spread even more through the trees, bushes, and dry grass. Periodic wind gusts reaching up to 65 miles (105 kilometers) per hour challenged aerial firefighting efforts such as dispersing flame retardants and water drops.
Numerous such wildfire incidents continued to burn across New Mexico in May 2022, such as the Cerro Pelado Fire– which occurred southwest of Los Alamos National Laboratory and burned around 45,000 acres and was only 19 percent contained. The Cooks Peak Fire, north of Las Vegas, burned 60,000 acres and was 97 percent contained by 13th May.
Most regions of New Mexico continue to witness brutal to exceptional droughts. According to the National Interagency Fire Centre, the state experienced about 244 wildfires in 2022, burning approximately 360,000 acres. The rise in temperatures will further worsen the situation.