On Wednesday seven states of Mexico were designated disaster ares because of drought and forest fires. Michoacan (south central Mexico, near Mexico City) and Tamaulipas (at the Golf of Mexico, just south of the US border) had experienced severe, prolonged drought. Rainfall in various parts of the two states was less than 50 percent of the historical average for more than two consecutive months. Almost 1,000 forest fires occured in the states of Durango, Guerrero, Jalisco, Morelos and Zacatecas between January and April of this year. Last month, nine states were declared disaster areas. Forest fires blazed in drought-hit Chihuahua, while drought plagued the states of Aguascalientes, Coahuila, Durango, Guanajuato, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Sinaloa and Zacatecas.
A fire which began Sunday afternoon has already burned 330 hectares of a 5,460 square km nature reserve in mountainous central Mexico and threatens rare Monarch butterflies. Scientists and environmentalists are concerned about the situation because the destruction of the winter habitat by the blaze -which is still burning – could threaten hundreds of millions of Monarchs with extinction. Monarchs breed in the spring and summer on the gulf coast of the United States and in the Great Lakes region. All Monarchs from east of the Rocky Mountains winter in Mexico in an area one millionth the size of their northern breeding grounds.
(For the whole reports see Planet Ark (19 May 2000): Fires and drought ravage seven Mexican states and Mexican blaze threatens rare Monarch butterfly)
Fig.1. NESDIS/OSEI NOAA-14 AVHRR satellite image, 16 May 2000.
Heat signatures (red) are visible from a number of fires burning in the coastal areas near the Bay of Campeche.
Fig.2. NESDIS/OSEI NOAA-14 AVHRR satellite image, 16 May 2000.
Heat signatures (red) are visible from fires burning in Eastern Mexico.
Fig.3. NESDIS/OSEI NOAA-14 AVHRR satellite image, 16 May 2000.
Heat signatures (red) and smoke (light blue) are visible from numerous fires burning in Mexico’s Pacific coastal areas.