In an unusual display of Mother Nature’s fury, tornadoes ripped through an area west of Flagstaff, Arizona this morning derailing a train and causing extensive damage. The tornado threat continues to this hour and may put even southwestern Colorado at risk.
The severe weather began in the early morning hours in Coconino and Yavapai counties where hail and damaging wind were initially reported. Then at 5:15am local police in Bellemont, a town west of Flagstaff, reported damage from tornadic storms.
Fifty to 100 power poles were snapped near the small town and at least 14 homes were damaged. Twenty one rail cars were thrown from their tracks and trucks along a nearby highway were overturned. Some injuries have been reported but none were considered serious.
The severe weather in a wide swath from the northern half of Arizona stretching into southern Utah and southwestern Colorado is expected to continue through the afternoon. A massive area of the region in under a Tornado Watch while some areas find themselves under Tornado Warnings as the severe weather intensifies.
- You can watch live Flagstaff, Arizona weather radar by clicking here
- Related: Study shows storm chasing increasing in popularity as vacation choice
When a tornado threatens
Do not use highway overpasses for shelter. Overpasses do not provide protection from tornadic winds. Vehicles stopped under bridges block traffic and prevent people from getting out of the storm`s path and to shelter. If you cannot drive away from the tornado, get out of your vehicle and lie flat in a ditch as a last resort.
Do not use your car to try to outrun a tornado. Cars are easily tossed around by tornado winds. If you are caught in the path of a tornado, leave the car and go to a strong building. If no safe structure is nearby, seek shelter in a ditch or low spot and cover your head.
The safest place to be during a tornado is in a basement. Get under a workbench or other piece of sturdy furniture. If no basement is available, seek shelter on the lowest floor of the building in an interior hallway or room such as a closet. Use blankets or pillows to cover your body and always stay away from windows.
If in mobile homes or vehicles, evacuate them and get inside a substantial shelter. If no shelter is available, lie flat in the nearest ditch or other low spot and cover your head with your hands.
From the National Weather Service:
URGENT – IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 694
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
930 AM MST WED OCT 6 2010
THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A TORNADO WATCH FOR LARGE PART OF CENTRAL AND NORTHERN ARIZONA PORTIONS OF SOUTHERN AND EASTERN UTAH
EFFECTIVE THIS WEDNESDAY MORNING AND AFTERNOON FROM 930 AM UNTIL 500 PM MST.
TORNADOES…HAIL TO 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER…THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 70 MPH…AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.
THE TORNADO WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 85 STATUTE MILES EAST AND WEST OF A LINE FROM 60 MILES SOUTH SOUTHWEST OF WINSLOW ARIZONA TO 30 MILES NORTHWEST OF HANKSVILLE UTAH. FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE ASSOCIATED WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU4).
REMEMBER…A TORNADO WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR TORNADOES AND SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS.
OTHER WATCH INFORMATION…THIS TORNADO WATCH REPLACES SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH NUMBER 692…TORNADO WATCH NUMBER 693. WATCH NUMBER 692 693 WILL NOT BE IN EFFECT AFTER 930 AM MST.
DISCUSSION…SHORTWAVE TROUGH OVER SRN AZ WILL LIFT NNEWD THROUGH THE DAY AND MAINTAIN NUMEROUS THUNDERSTORMS. DEEP LAYER SHEAR AND MUCAPES FROM 500 TO 1000 J/KG WILL CONTINUE TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF SUPERCELLS. WHILE SEVERE HAIL SHOULD BE THE PRIMARY THREAT…BACKED LOW LEVEL WINDS THAT VEER AND STRENGTHEN WITH HEIGHT PLUS MOIST BOUNDARY LAYER WILL BE FAVORABLE FOR A FEW TORNADOES.
AVIATION…TORNADOES AND A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL SURFACE AND ALOFT TO 2 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE WIND GUSTS TO 60 KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO 450. MEAN STORM MOTION VECTOR 20040.