Friday, June 22, 2012

Dry as a Tinderbox in the Southwest: Fire near Mesa Verde

 Yeah, there are never any hazards on the road...

Things like fatal car accidents that tie up remote highways for hours, lost students (not for too long this time around), injuries, heat exhaustion, and tourists...

Today we were exploring the Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park. It was hot, very hot, and there were some stiff breezes blowing. The soil here is as dry as I've ever seen it, and it was clearly a time of high fire danger. Sure enough, we were on Chapin Mesa, and the sky turned dark to the northeast, seemingly right over our camp. The fire turned out to be twelve miles away, but it was nerve-wracking just the same. I went out to the park entrance and saw dramatic flames on the ridgetop above the town of Mancos (above). I wish them luck and safety...
The fire was acting as a weather-maker. The hot mass of ash was causing updrafts that condensed into cumulus clouds. That's the white stuff over the gray ash clouds.

Wifi is still rare out here...will update when I can! In the meantime, a pop quiz: where was this picture taken???

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