October has been off to an unseasonably warm and quiet start this year. Most years, it’s a pretty uneventful month when it comes to stormy weather in our state. October 2010, however, was a big exception. In fact, this month marks the seventh anniversary of the worst tornado outbreak in Arizona history.
During the first week of October 2010, a strong storm system moved across the desert Southwest. On Oct. 5, severe thunderstorms developed over the Phoenix area. Those storms dropped hail 3 inches in diameter, the largest ever recorded in Maricopa County. Damage to Valley homes, cars and air conditioning units is estimated to be near $3 billion from that hailstorm!
[RELATED: See the first photo of a tornado in Arizona]
Later that evening, storms new storms began to develop just north of Phoenix and moved quickly northward during the early morning hours of Oct. 6.
The storms were strong and began to rotate. The first of at least eight tornadoes touched down Blue Ridge just before 2 a.m.
[FROM THE ARCHIVES: Total of 5 tornadoes touch down in Northern Arizona (Oct. 6, 2010)]
A few hours later, a tornado touched down about 9 miles south of Bellemont at 5:35 a.m. It’s believed this twister stayed on the ground for at least 25 miles! It was rated as an EF-1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with areas that saw isolated EF-2 damage. Six people were injured from this storm and more than 100 homes damaged. Twenty-one homes were destroyed and uninhabitable.
A third tornado touched down at 6:40 a.m. near Bellemont. That one derailed 28 rail cars! It also downed trees, blocking roads and stranding campers. The storm left behind a wide path of significant forest damage south of Bellemont and was rated as an EF-2.
Another tornado was reported at 7:02 south of Bellemont -- another EF-2. And another tornado track was found nearby the other two Bellemont tornado paths.
Over the next few hours, a sixth tornado was spotted southwest of Cordes Junction, and a seventh just southeast of Tuba City. This one took out three electrical transmission towers. It was the strongest of the twisters, rated an EF-3.
Finally, an eighth tornado was seen crossing Interstate 17 just after noon near Munds Park. Very little damage was reported from this one.
Two more damage paths were spotted near Rogers Lake, so that’s why we say at least eight tornadoes that day.
It was pretty impressive for a state that rarely sees that many twisters in an entire year. It’s even more amazing that although minor injuries were reported, nobody was killed in this historic tornado outbreak.
[RELATED: Growing up in "Tornado Alley"]
[MORE: Weather blog]
More on the science behind these storms: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/fgz/News/06Oct2010tor/06Oct2010.htmlClick/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.