On Wednesday (17 May 2000) 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 (14 May 2000) 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.
Fig.1. NESDIS/OSEI NOAA-14 AVHRR satellite image, 18 May 2000. A few heat signatures (red) are visible from fires burning on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. This represents a substantial reduction from the number of fires detected earlier in the month. Heavy clouds cover most of the rest of the Central American Area. (Source: NOAA/OSEI).
Fig.2. NESDIS/OSEI NOAA-14 AVHRR satellite image, 18 May 2000. A number of heat signatures (red) and smoke plumes (light blue) are visible from fires burning in eastern Mexico. Additional fires may be burning beneath the cloud cover. (Source: NOAA/OSEI).
Fig.3. NESDIS/OSEI NOAA-14 AVHRR satellite image, 18 May 2000. A number of heat signatures (red) are visible from fires burning in western Mexico. A heavy layer of smoke (light blue) covers the coast and adjacent coastal waters. Red areas representing solar heating are visible in the interior along with heat signatures from fires. Additional fires may be burning beneath the cloud cover. (Source: NOAA/OSEI).