National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


April 30, 2008 Permian Basin Wildfires


A strengthening upper level storm system across the Rockies combined with surface low pressure over southeastern Colorado brought increasing westerly winds to all of west Texas and southeastern New Mexico Wednesday afternoon and evening. The graphic below shows peak wind gusts for selected locations across the area.

These west winds also aided in bringing well above normal temperatures to the region. The temperature rose to 96 degrees at the Midland International Airport...which tied the record high for this date.  The temperature rose to the century mark at Wink...with locations along the Rio Grande River likely experiencing similar readings.

The combination of well above normal temperatures and very dry air allowed afternoon relative humidities to drop below 10% across much of the region.


With well above normal temperatures...very low relative humidities and extreme fire danger in place...conditions were ripe for the development of wildfires. National Weather Service Doppler Radar was able to detect at least two smoke plumes across the region. The image below was taken at 4:17 PM MDT or 5:17 PM CDT and shows a smoke plume over northern Lea County New Mexico from a wildfire that originated roughly 8 miles northwest of Tatum.

Radar also detected another wildfire over southern Pecos county. The image below was taken at 6:35 PM CDT and shows the smoke plume stretching into extreme eastern Pecos county.

By late Wednesday evening...the wildfire in Pecos county continued to grow. The satellite image below was taken at 8 PM CDT and shows the satellite detected "hot spots" associated with the fire.