Snowfall, dust storms and a tornado have October off to a wild start with extreme weather happening all over Arizona.
Counties across Arizona were put on several flash flood and dust storm warnings on Monday that could roll through the rest of the week. 40,000 power outages were reported in the metro Phoenix area as a result of the storms, according to APS and Salt River Project.
The weather disturbance that led to yesterday's strong winds and dense blowing dust across the area can be seen moving across the state this morning on IR satellite imagery. The best thunderstorm chances will be focused further east today across eastern Arizona. #azwx pic.twitter.com/RUZK0yIls8
— NWS Phoenix (@NWSPhoenix) October 4, 2022
Visibility was plagued by raging dust storms with many taking to social media to share their experience.
The San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff even received snowfall that blanketed the mountain range.
— NWS Phoenix (@NWSPhoenix) October 3, 2022
The weather didn't stop there though.
The Flagstaff office of the National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado had touched down around 1:30 p.m. Monday in the Junipine Estates, a rural community just north of Williams.
530pm: Our survey team has confirmed an EF-1 tornado affected the Junipine Estates community, just north of Williams, earlier this afternoon. Numerous structures and trees were damaged due to winds up to 100mph. #azwx
— NWS Flagstaff (@NWSFlagstaff) October 4, 2022
The Coconino County Sheriff's Office also confirmed that between eight to 10 homes were damaged as a result.
Arizona Public Service even reported as many as 2,000 power outages in parts of Yavapai county, south of the tornado strike.
The tornado was confirmed as an EF-1 tornado categorizing it as "weak".
Tornado? In Arizona? How weird is that?
Tornados in Arizona are a rare, but not unheard of, occurrence here. The Grand Canyon state averages around five per year.
Texas, by contrast, averages the most of any state, with around 155 tornado touchdowns each year.
Why so few?
"Often times they are reported in what we call our transition season." Flagstaff National Weather Service meteorologist-in-charge Brian Klimowski told The Arizona Republic.
Arizona's lack of tornadoes mainly comes down to the lack of key weather conditions needed to produce it. Warm air near the surface and aloft cooler dry air combined with a change in wind speed and/or direction with height.
"When the wind sheer or the change in the direction and speed of the wind that will rise up through the atmosphere is that interacts with any remaining monsoon moisture you can often grow strong thunderstorms but strong thunderstorms that are rotating. We call them supercell thunderstorms. Those are the types of storms that can cause tornadoes." Klimowski said.
In 2019, the Phoenix area saw seven tornadoes in early January, the most in the area since 1972.
How bad do Arizona twisters get?
Tornados in Arizona are relatively weak. Typically, Arizona tornadoes will usually however around an EF-0 (40-72 MPH) to an EF-1 (73- 112MPH).
However, the strongest tornado and most destructive tornado in Arizona's history was in 1972. The tornado was slated as an EF-2 and swept through parts of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, and areas of east Phoenix.
The storm made front-page news for the Republic at the time. Over 200 homes were ravaged just in Paradise Valley. With it, the tornado also caused severe damage to Arizona power lines as well as canals prompting APS officials to say it was the most severe damage they had ever experienced at the time.
Initially, Scottsdale officials estimated the damage at around $46 million, but later reassessed and brought the number down to around $25 million.
Climate change? Probably not.
"It's very difficult to make any connections of that type to a single event." Klimowski said. "As far as severe weather, because it's so rare here especially tornadic storms its very difficult to tie those with any climate change signals."
As Arizona enters that transitional season though, October is sure to bring more surprise weather.
Reach breaking news reporter Kye Graves at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kyegraves
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Tornado, snow and crazy weather welcome Arizona to October