WILLCOX — A tornado touched down in Willcox Monday night, leaving neighborhoods without power.
Extreme wind and hail also occurred within the storm, creating hazardous conditions for first responders.
According to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office, the tornado has touched down in the Willcox area, between the airport and Taylor Road.
Sulphur Springs Valley Electrical Co-op issued a statement on its Facebook page that the company’s crews headed to the area where the downed lines were.
“I’ve been told there’s a bunch of downed power poles on Hamilton and Fort Grant roads, northwest of the city,” Willcox Director of Public Safety Dale Hadfield said Monday evening. “I know that in the county there are a couple of travel trailers turned over, my Fire Department is out there extracting the occupants right now. Other than that, that’s the only thing going on right now. I’ve got my people coming in so we can inspect the city and see what we’ve got.”
Officials with SSVEC told Range News a total of 11 poles were downed just after 9 p.m. Monday, affecting 2,700 members, and crews were immediately dispatched.
After replacing poles and re-energizing the Willcox substation, power was restored by 11:30 p.m. to all but 30 families, who were impacted by issues specific to their homes. Crews continued to work through the night and, by 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, power had been restored to all by about five or six families, with SSVEC continuing to work on getting those homes power.
There were also small outages in the Benson and Sierra Vista areas as a result of the storm, and a tornado watch was in effect Tuesday for the Douglas area.
Chris Rasmussen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tucson, said tornadoes in this area are “not uncommon.”
“It’s not completely unheard of,” he told Arizona Range News. “Generally, when we see conditions ripe for this activity is at the end of the monsoon season.”
Rasmussen said the key was upper low pressure system settling over the area combined with tropical moisture making its way north from tropical storm Lorena.
“When that happens, it’s called a supercell,” Rasmussen said. “The tornado that touched down in Phoenix recently was caused by the exact same conditions.”
Rasmussen added that the tornados that can occur in southeastern Arizona are not like those that routinely cause catastrophic damage in the Midwest and the Plains states.
And, he added that there remains the possibility of another supercell forming Wednesday.
“We’re getting another wave of storms tomorrow (Wednesday),” he said. “That’s not to say we’ll see another one, but it’s possible. As I said, it’s not uncommon for us to see that activity here in southeastern Arizona.”