ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A storm system bringing hail and possibly damaging wind moved across New Mexico on Thursday ahead of what is expected to be a Memorial Day weekend packed with severe weather.
The National Weather Service said eastern New Mexico, especially around Clovis, is under a “slight risk” for severe storms and will likely have the strongest conditions. In addition, the Sandia, Manzano and Sangre de Cristo mountain chains in central New Mexico will experience scattered thunderstorms.
Sporadic thunderstorms are expected to continue Friday and officials fear that means drought-stricken areas may get lightning that could spark wildfires.
New Mexico has experienced record-setting fire seasons during two of the last three years, and land managers are worried this summer could be another record-setter given the dry conditions. The state has been battered by drought and persistently high fire danger in recent years.
The human-caused Signal Fire, burning in southwestern New Mexico and the state’s largest current fire, is 90 percent contained as of Thursday, officials said. It started burning in grass and timber about 10 miles north of Silver City on May 11.
Forecasters said the severe weather is expected to continue Saturday afternoon and evening with possible hail along the central mountain chain.