Montana, Idaho wildfires send smoke to Taos


Smoke from more than a dozen large wildfires burning in Montana and Idaho contributed to the haze settling over parts of Northern and Central New Mexico Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 2-3).

David Craft, meteorologist with the National Weather Service forecast office in Albuquerque, said the fires had sent smoke eastward, sliding down the east slopes of the Rocky Mountains into the plains and into central New Mexico. Towns from Taos to Las Vegas to Albuquerque were wrapped in the gray smoky mantle. "This is one of haziest days we've seen in awhile," said Craft from his Duke City office.

Craft said a storm system moving in will transfer clean air aloft down below, clearing out some of the haze Sunday evening. A cold front is expected to drop into New Mexico Monday, driving temperatures down ten degrees. The smoke may return until a thunderstorm system moves across Northern New Mexico Tuesday (Sept. 5) bringing some moisture and small hail. 

In total, firefighters are battling more than 55 wildfires across California, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Idaho, according to the national interagency Incident Information System or inciweb.com.

The week-old Rice Ride Fire in the Montana's Lolo National Forest was reported at 52,000 acres Sunday afternoon. The Sapphire Complex and the Lolo Peak fires burning in the same forest had each topped 42,000 acres Sunday and the Highline Fire in Idaho had burned through 52,000 acres.