Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Summer Thunderstorm in the Tonopah Desert, Arizona

Thunderstorm brewing on Interstate I-10 East, near Salome Road, Arizona - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
In July 2010, the Arizona “anti-illegal immigration” bill known as SB 1070 went into limited effect. I will not debate its merits here. Suffice to say that I did not agree with its intent or methods of enforcement. Rather than support that discriminatory legislation, I decided to take my business elsewhere. My August 25, 2010 medical appointment in Scottsdale, Arizona would be my last.

  Watch the video, "Thunderstorm, Tonopah Desert, Arizona"
Rainbow over a bulk carrier on Interstate I-10 East in the Tonopah Desert, Arizona - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)
On that final trip to Phoenix, I chased a desert thunderstorm east along Interstate I-10 through the Tonopah Desert. Not to be confused with Tonopah, Nevada, the Tonopah Desert of Arizona features a series of mountain ranges, just to the north of the interstate highway. From West to east, those are the Big Horn and Belmont Mountains, followed by individual peaks named Hot Rock Mountain and Flatiron Mountain. In the east, the majestic White Tank Mountains rise above this lightly inhabited stretch of Sonoran desert.

From Salome Road, where it crosses I-10 until well past Tonopah (fifty miles east of Phoenix), I watched as a thunderstorm to the north paralleled my direction of travel. Since I was moving at seventy miles per hour, I was able to photograph and then overtake the developing storm as I drove along. With the late afternoon sun behind me, various rainbow forms appeared as I drove. The visual effects ranged from the startling to the sublime. I hope you enjoy the view as much as I did, taking snapshots out the window as I drove.
Thunderstorm and rainbow enlighten a Peterbilt tractor-trailer rig on Interstate I-10 in the Tonopah Desert, Arizona - Click for larger image (http://jamesmcgillis.com)The most significant human created features within the Tonopah Desert Aquifer are Interstate Highway I-10, The Arizona Public Service Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station and the Central Arizona Project settling ponds, which are designed to bring Colorado River water to the desert. If you think that nuclear power plants do not use much in the way of natural resources, it is time to think again. Via a large canal, water is diverted to the ponds, where some of it evaporates, but much of it seeps into the aquifer. Photographic images of the nuclear plant show it sitting beside a huge lake. All of that cooling water comes either directly or indirectly from the Colorado River. No wonder the Colorado River runs dry before it ever reaches the Sea of Cortez. The whole system is like one huge nuclear swamp cooler designed to cool Phoenix, Arizona.

My hope is that the electorate of Arizona will soon welcome everyone back to that great state. Perhaps they will remember the missives of the ascended masters, which entreat us to welcome and include all people who love this Earth. Until then, my travel plans within the Four Corner States will focus on Nevada, Utah and New Mexico. I will miss you, Arizona highways.

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