A tornado that was spawned over New River Monday amid a series of severe thunderstorms did touch down, the National Weather Service confirmed Tuesday.
The tornado touched down in New River at 12:07 p.m., near 18th Street and Circle Mountain Road and remained on the ground for two minutes, according to the National Weather Service in Phoenix.
The path of the tornado was 100 yards in width and traveled one mile, the Weather Service said.
Monday’s weather event, which brought heavy rain to the New River area north of Phoenix and other areas around the Valley, was driven by moisture that entered Arizona from the remnants of Pacific Hurricane Lorena.
The rains moved into the Phoenix region early Monday morning, and strong thunderstorms began developing across northern Maricopa County around 11 a.m.
Within the hour, a few of the storms began to take on the structure of super cell thunderstorms, known to generate severe weather-like tornadoes, the National Weather Service said in a statement detailing the storm and tornado.
New River, along with several areas of the Valley, was under a severe thunderstorm watch Monday from 9:50 a.m. to 8 p.m., but an additional tornado warning was issued at 12:14 p.m., effective until 12:45 p.m.
This was the first time in five years the National Weather Service’s Phoenix office issued a tornado warning.
Estimated wind speeds were 80 mph, putting it at an EF0 rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The scale rates tornadoes based on wind speeds and related damage up to a maximum EF5.
Though the New River tornado fell within the lowest rating on the scale, its speed was toward the higher end of the category, which ranges from 65 to 85 mph, the Weather Service said.
Several trees were uprooted in the funnel’s path and houses in the area sustained damage as well, primarily to the rooftops. Mark O’Malley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told The Arizona Republic three houses were hit.
“Tornadoes here are typically weak and brief,” O’Malley said. “It is rare that we get them in the area, but they are something we see from time-to-time.”
Several residents caught the phenomenon on video.
According to the Storm Prediction Center, Arizona averages about four tornadoes per year statewide.
Willcox, in the southeast portion of the state, also endured a severe storm Monday that formed a tornado. The EF1 tornado hit 9:25 p.m. The wind speed of this tornado was estimated to be about 90 to 100 mph.
Several structures were damaged there and power was knocked out for much of the community.
O’Malley said that the chances of another tornado hitting in the near future are low. “The biggest threat isn’t the tornadoes, but the amount of raining and flooding happening currently,” he explained.
by Nicole Soto (2019, Sept 24) AZ Central