Ruidoso, NM hit with fire and now with monsoon flash flooding

Ruidoso flood and fire map
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  • Heavy rain caused flash floods in the McBride and Blue 2 Fire burn scars.
  • Emergency management conducted three water rescues.
  • Additional rain could increase flood danger.
  • Flooding concerns extend to Roswell.

June 20, 2024 — Heavy rain in Ruidoso caused flash floods in burn scars, prompting water rescues. Additional rain could worsen the flooding, with concerns extending to Roswell. The ground is already saturated, and the floodwaters are carrying ash and sediment, making them dangerous and difficult to predict.

Floods hit Ruidoso as NM fires burn

by Danielle Prokop, Source New Mexico
June 19, 2024

First hit by fire, and now water.

Facing threats from the South Fork and Salt fires, Ruidoso was inundated Wednesday as a fierce storm dropped an estimated 2 to 4 inches of rain as it swirled above the Sacramento Mountains.

Emergency management conducted three water rescues in the burn scar, according to remarks from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham Wednesday evening in Roswell. No additional details were released about the number of people rescued or their condition.

“While this weather is helpful to fight the fire, it is not helpful for the floods,” she said, urging people to stay out of the evacuation areas because of the combined danger.

Wednesday afternoon the National Weather Service out of Albuquerque issued flash flood warnings in the McBride and Blue 2 Fire burn scars, and warned of potential flooding as far downstream as Two Rivers Dam in Roswell.

The fast-moving water is extremely dangerous, with 6 inches of water able to knock a person over, and one foot strong enough to carry away a car. The National Weather Service warnings urged people in the burn scars around the Rio Hondo area to seek higher ground.

Additional reports to the National Weather Service included flooding around Bonito Lake, mudslides on Gavilan Canyon Road, and debris and water on State Highway 532 (Ski Run Road).

“We’ve got you know, a surge of tropical moisture coming in, and could see easily like 2 to 3 inches of rain on the burn scars in the next two days,” said Andrew Mangham, the senior service hydrologist for the National Weather Service.

The rain on the way potentially increases flood danger, since the ground is already soaked.

“It was already going to be bad. But now you can think of these things as primed on a hair-trigger,” Mangham said. “Anything that falls on the ground is going to run right off.”

The areas of most concern include Alto, Ruidoso, Hollywood and Ruidoso Downs. Flooding concerns extend to Roswell and did extend into other parts of Chaves County, confirmed emergency manager Karen Sanders.

Floodwaters in the burn scar transform to sludge as it picks up ash and sediment, and moves slower than water, making it hard to judge when it will arrive downstream.

“Water is headed their way, there could be some impacts. We’re just hard pressed to say exactly what they’re going to be,” Mangham said.


Source New Mexico is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Source New Mexico maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Shaun Griswold for questions: Follow Source New Mexico on Facebook and X.

Source New Mexico

Source New Mexico is an independent, nonprofit news organization that shines a light on governments, policies and public officials so you get the information you need to make choices — about yourself, your family, your neighborhoods and communities. Through a lens of public health and equity, we’ll bring you original news reporting along with analysis and opinion. We’re your source for unflinching coverage of COVID response and health care, access to education, tribal affairs, climate change and industrial regulation, police accountability, criminal legal reform, the impacts of immigration policies and more from across the region. Source NM is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. Source NM retains full editorial independence.

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