Believe it or not, hurricanes often have a direct influence on Arizona’s weather patterns. Usually, remnant moisture from decaying hurricanes streams into Arizona. This plume will enhance monsoon moisture and trigger thunderstorms capable of catastrophic flooding. Normally these tropical cyclones originate in the Eastern Pacific.
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[WATCH: Hurricanes are monsoon wild cards]
Most recently in September 2014, Norbert strengthened to a category 3 hurricane before remnant moisture surged into Arizona and a deluge swept through metro Phoenix. Freeways turned into rivers. Historic flooding from single-day rain totals of more than 5 inches devastated many Valley communities. Phoenix Sky Harbor recorded 3.30 inches during that event.
With the help from friend and colleague Jessica Nolte, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service of Phoenix, data pulled from NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management reveals a total of eight tropical storms and tropical depressions have made landfall in Arizona since 1929. That means, their centers of circulation actually hit our state. UNNAMED, June 27-30, 1929 UNNAMED, Sept. 30- Oct. 6, 1958 KATRINA, Aug. 30- Sept. 30, 1967 HYACINTH, Aug. 17-21, 1968 RAYMOND, Sept. 25- Oct. 5, 1989 LESTER, Aug. 20-24, 1992 NORA, Sept. 16-26, 1997 NEWTON, Sept. 4-8, 2016[RELATED: Dry conditions to yield with Newton bringing rain to Arizona]
[READ MORE: Hurricanes and the monsoon]
Arizona’s largest 24-hour rainfall record ever recorded was 11.97 inches, which occurred when Nora’s center of circulation barely crossed the Colorado River into Arizona back in 1997.
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