Burn scars + weekend showers = flash flood potential | KOB 4

Burn scars + weekend showers = flash flood potential

Joy Wang
June 17, 2018 10:27 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Most of the state saw rainfall this weekend, bringing moisture to areas that have been ravaged by wildfires in recent weeks.


In 2016 it was the Dog Head Fire. In 2015, the Cajete Fire, and this year the Ute Park Fire has affected the state and its communities. So when the clouds opened up, it was a welcome sight for New Mexican residents, but also its firefighters.

"This is the desert, and anytime we get precipitation is a great thing for us," said Lt. Dave Lujan with the Bernalillo County Fire Department. "Unfortunately our state is burning right now, so it's a double-edged sword when we're dealing with situations like this."

That rain also came with complications, affecting areas where burn scars have left charred vegetation – and the potential for flash floods.

"Whenever we're dealing with burned areas in a wildland setting…the organic compounds of the soil and the vegetation in that soil and the vegetation in that area, when it gets burned at a high rate like that, it actually loses its ability to absorb water," Lujan said.

That can lead to landslides and large debris in areas affected by fires. Think of it like speed bumps in the road.

"Basically a vehicle would have to slow down," Lujan said. "It's very similar in those situations. There's multiple speed bumps in a wildland area (and) forestry areas, and now those speed bumps are completely taken away. It's kind of (a) free-flowing roadway that allows the water to just flow."

And sometimes that fast-moving water will take everything with it.

"If you're in one of those areas, contact your local resource so they can point you in the right direction," Lujan said. "You need to get those resources."


Joy Wang

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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