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Thu, April 25

Amazing Places: Tornado damage near Groom Creek, Spruce Mountain

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Nigel Reynolds/Courtesy photo

My last article was about natural events. This one is too, but it is about an historical event – and there is no mystery. Tornados in Arizona are rare events, thank goodness, but they do happen occasionally. The one I’m writing about was in 2014 – around 2 p.m. on Sept. 27 to be precise. It was in the Groom Creek area, and it touched down more than once. The first area damaged included a number of houses and fortunately no one was home so no injuries occurred.

The two photos are of an isolated touchdown on the Groom Creek Trail (307), which goes all around Spruce Mountain. You can see how the powerful circulating winds snapped off the tops of many tall ponderosas. My photos were taken in June 2015 – I expect the trees are still standing in that broken condition. In Groom Creek, a number of power lines were destroyed, and the one close to the photo was damaged. For more information on the tornado, search online for “Tornado, Groom Creek, 2014.”

To see this interesting place first hand, hike up trail 307 to the touchdown point – only if you are in reasonable shape. The trailhead is south on the Senator Highway (Mount Vernon initially) by the “crossroads” at milepost 6.6. Turn left there and park where the dirt road widens out by a building (restrooms). [Right at the crossroad goes into the Horse Camp.] After parking, take the trail for about 100 feet to the T junction – the trail 307 loop is in both directions at the T. Go left for 2.1 miles, mostly uphill. This was one of the Hiking Spree hikes for 2015. For the map, go online to highlandscenter.org/hiking-spree and scroll down to GET MAPS, then select 2015, No. 11 (Spruce Mountain West). Print the map on your color printer – the tornado site is on the right of the map, shown as “optional hike.” That’s it about the tornado, but I’ll use the rest of the article to give you more info.

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How does my interface with the Courier work? I send in my article and photos to the Courier before their deadline. If the article invites readers to request more info (e.g., directions) I also send that extra information to the Courier. The senior editor emails it to everyone who asks. I’m not involved at that stage (I don’t have time to respond to many individual requests) – so don’t reply to the Courier. From now on, I’ll include my email address in that extra info so you can converse directly with me. I’ll also include in each of my future articles, the words you should put in the “subject line” of your email request to the Courier, so they’ll know if this is for the most recent article, or an older one; it is “Tornado” for this article – try it to get lots of useful info.

Regarding my Jan. 7 article on the icefall, I took my hiking group there on Jan. 12. The recent snowfall had covered the ice, which made it look much less impressive. So wait until all that snow is long gone before hiking there.

Nigel Reynolds was born in England and has lived in Arizona for almost 40 years, and in Prescott for over 20 years. “Exploring is in my blood,” he says.

To see my articles online and the photos in color, visit dCourier.com and enter my name in the search-bar at top right.

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