In today’s summary, we look at an outbreak of 8 tornadoes to hit parts of Arizona on October 6, 2010.  This was the largest number of tornadoes to hit the state in a single day since records began in 1950. Per the NCDC, Arizona on average receives four tornadoes annually.

From the NWS Flagstaff overview of the event, a strong area of low pressure over California pushed in tremendous moisture over Arizona on this day.  Combination of extremely strong vertical wind shear, instability and lift from the low pressure system helped to set the stage for supercells.  

Here is a breakdown of the tornado ratings:

2 – EF0

1- EF1

4 – EF2

1 – EF3

All but one of the eight tornadoes were in Coconino County.  Two tornadoes had long tracks of over 30 miles.  Some of the tracks were not continuous and some were hard to completely determine due to terrain.  There were no fatalities in connection with this outbreak.  There were 7 injuries from an EF2 near Bellemont.  

I have included all of the NWS Flagstaff Event Narratives for the 8 tornadoes and a map of the tornado paths.  

Storm Data Entries

Tornado #1:  EF1 – Coconino County

Path length:  14.06 miles

Width:  400 yards

Event Narrative:  The US Forest Service and NWS reported a tornado damage path near Blue Ridge Ranger Station. Hundreds of ponderosa pines were blown over or snapped off. At least one alligator juniper that was 2 and a half feet in diameter was snapped off. Trees were down across Highway 87 between mile markers 296 and 298.

Tornado #2:  EF2- Coconino County

Path length:  34.14 miles (not continuous)

Width:  400 yards

Injuries:  7

Event Narrative: Considerable structural damage in and around the community of Bellemont.  Aerial and ground surveys verified a semi-continuous tornado path from at least 15 miles south of Bellemont, extending northward crossing Highway 180 three times northwest of Flagstaff.  The tornado crossed Highway 180 near mile posts 230, 234, and 240.  Total discontinuous path length of at least 34 miles.  Damage survey strongly suggests tornadic cycling with at least 2 tornadoes likely.  Tornado passed 2/3 mile east of the NWS Bellemont Weather Forecast office.  

Damage from this tornado included:

-7 minor injuries.

-Over 100 homes damaged in Bellemont

-21 homes sustaining significant damage (deemed uninhabitable).

-At least one business (RV Sales) with damage with 30+ RV units demolished and tossed onto Interstate 40.

-Interstate closed for several hours.

-At least one overturned truck on the Interstate.

-Numerous forest roads blocked, campers stranded by fallen trees.

-Around 75 power poles knocked down.

Tornado #3:  EF2 – Coconino County

Path length:  32.02 miles

Width:  800 yards

Event Narrative: Bellemont Tornado #2 (5:54 – 6:50 AM): This tornado caused extensive forest damage (primarily south of Bellemont), along a discontinuous track which extended from 15 miles south of Bellemont, eventually crossing Hwy 180 northwest of Flagstaff.  Very wide, severe forest damage (EF-2) occurred in the forest south of Bellemont.  Tornado visually sighted by NWS staff at the Bellemont Weather Forecast Office.  Tornado passed 1/3 mile west of the NWS Bellemont Weather Forecast office.  Additional damage stats include:

-28 rail cars derailed in Bellemont.

-Semi trucks and trailers were overturned on I-40.

-Power poles snapped on Camp Navajo.

-Numerous forest roads blocked and campers were stranded by fallen trees.

Tornado #4:  EF2 – Coconino County

Path length:  18.55 miles

Width:  500 yards

Event Narrative: Garjon Tank Tornado (6:50 – 7:14 AM MST): This tornado caused extensive forest damage south of Bellemont.  Based on severity of forest damage, this tornado is rated an EF-2.  There was some evidence of tornadic cycling with three individual tornadoes possible.  Tornado passed 2 miles west of the National Weather Service Office.

Tornado #5:  EF2 – Coconino County

Path length:  2.77 miles

Width:  200 yards

Event Narrative: Short path of significant tornado damage between two other tracks near the Mogollon Rim.

Tornado #6:  EF2 – Yavapai County

Path length:  7.26 miles

Width:  50 yards

Event Narrative: A 50-yard wide tornado was confirmed in grassland east of Interstate 17. Dissipated shortly afterward.

Tornado #7:  EF3 – Coconino County

Path length: 0.01 miles

Width:  1100 yards

Event Narrative:  A tornado collapsed three 500 KV electrical transmission towers. The towers were of metal truss construction. One tower was completely flattened. Photographic evidence and first-hand reports were provided by Arizona Public Service. Tornado damage intensity is rated at EF-3. Damage path length indeterminable.

Tornado #8:  EF0 – Coconino County

Path length: 17.05 miles

Width:  200 yards

Event Narrative: Munds Park / Cosnino tornado (12:05 – 12:20 PM): This tornado was seen crossing Interstate 17 moving northbound…later observed 4 miles south of the Country Club neighborhood on the east side of Flagstaff. Little damage reported.

Tornado Paths

Click map to enlarge.

All 8 tracks using SPC coordinates

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Tornado 1 Path

Click map to enlarge.

Tornado 1 near Blue Ridge Range Station

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Tornado Paths near Bellemont & Flagstaff

Click map to enlarge.

5 tornado tracks near Bellemont and Flagstaff

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Tornado 6 Path

Click map to enlarge.

Tornado 6 in Yavapai County

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Tornado 7 Path

Click map to enlarge.

Tornado 7 – Strongest of the outbreak.  Path Length indeterminable. 

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Radar

Images via NWS and Storm Data

Damage tracks near Bellemont via NWS Flagstaff.
28 freight containers blow off a train 400 yards west of the Flagstaff WFO. Via Storm Data.
Damage near Bellemont. Image via NWS Phoenix Facebook.

Newspaper Clippings

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