The Bureau of Indian Affairs apparently has a “remote automated weather station” that hasn’t been used for a decade. It sits in a garage at Double Eagle II, the airport on Albuquerque’s West Mesa, a few miles north of the top of Nine Mile Hill. Every year or so, someone opens the shed and powers this RAWS up, just to make sure that the sensors are sensing, the transmitters are transmitting, and any batteries are juiced. Just in case it is needed.
Here’s something a tad weird. That machine has an identifier, that gets transmitted along with weather conditions, location and other data when the machine is operating. It is NMSPA_PORT1.
This Summer, NMSPA_PORT1 showed up on the map used by GeoMAC. What the heck is a GeoMAC? It’s the Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination Group, an online wildfire mapping service. Heck, what else could GeoMAC be?
GeoMAC showed NMSPA_PORT1 at Latitude 34.87 and Longitude -106.37. That is a marathon run from Double Eagle II. Actually, that spot appears to be only a wiffle ball throw from the junction of trails 59 and 210—not far at all from the top of the Dog Head fire burn scar.
Why is that weird? Well, because apparently NMSPA_PORT1 hadn’t even been turned on since August 2015. And, apparently it was checked, many miles over the hills and through the woods, up at Double Eagle II. And, yet, it also apparently was transmitting from trail 59, two football fields into Torrance County, this summer.
While we’re on the subject of RAWS, there’s this. When the Forest Service’s Type One team was in charge of the Dog Head fire response, it apparently brought a portable RAWS with it. That is common. It helps the management team factor in the weather conditions that are so important to understanding and predicting fire behavior.
I say ‘apparently’ because not everyone remembers there being a RAWS brought by the Type One team. Then again, some folks are pretty sure that it was located pretty close to the village of Chilili. Then again, other folks are emphatic that it was located… up there, a wiffle ball throw from Trail 59.
Readers, help us out. If you are a weather geek and you were following conditions during Dog Head, do you recall a RAWS monitoring station that appeared temporarily on your weather maps during or in the weeks following the fire? Did you happen to scribble down its identifier (something like R2D2, perhaps)?
Weather is a major player in daily life here in the East Mountains. Next week, we’ll propose a weather-related project that hopefully many readers will choose to become part of.
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