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Summary
 

This was the largest tornado outbreak in Arizona history, as well as the greatest recorded tornado outbreak west of the Continental Divide. At least eleven tornadoes were recorded during the morning hours of October 6, 2010. The most active time was from 4:00 AM - Noon MST. The National Weather Service Office in Flagstaff issued 28 Tornado Warnings, 25 Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, and 1 Flash Flood Warning during this event. Multiple tornadic storms repeatedly developed over the same locations in north-central Arizona, keeping the small area under a constant tornado threat for several hours. Large hail (up to baseball-sized) was reported with the storms. The duration, intensity, and number of tornadoes distinguished this event apart from any other event in history west of the Continental Divide and in Arizona.

 
Timeline
Radar Loop October 6th From 4:24 AM - 10:27 AM

Radar Loop October 6th From 4:24 AM - 10:27 AM

Radar Loop October 6th From 10:32 AM - 1:50 PM

Radar Loop October 6th From 10:32 AM - 1:50 PM

Tornadoes that Impacted Bellemont, AZ on October 6th

Tornadoes that Impacted Bellemont, AZ on October 6th

Radar Image Of The First Tornado Near Blue Ridge

Radar Image Of The First Tornado Near Blue Ridge

Satellite Infrared Imagery Depticting Tornadic Storm Clouds

Satellite Infrared Imagery Depticting Tornadic Storm Clouds

Velocity Image Showing Tornadic Cirulation Headed Towards Bellemont

Velocity Image Showing Tornadic Cirulation Headed Towards Bellemont

Tornado #1 near Blue Ridge: (Est. 1:58 – 2:12 AM) EF-1 (14 mile length)

  • EF-0 / EF-1 damage in forest along a 14 mile path three miles west of the WSR-88D radar.

Tornado #2 in Bellemont: (Est. 4:53 – 5:44 AM) EF-2 (34 mile length)

  • Significant tornado tracks surveyed 15+ miles to the north and south of Bellemont, with a total discontinuous path length of at least 34.2 miles.
  • Repeated curvature of path suggests multiple tornadic / mesocyclone regeneration.
  • Mostly EF-1, with occasional EF-2 damage in forest, and in the Bellemont community.
  • Tornado passed 2/3 mile east of the National Weather Service Office.

Tornado #3 in Bellemont: (Est. 5:54 – 6:50 AM) EF-2+ (35 mile length)

  • Significant, discontinuous tornado track surveyed 15 miles to the north and south of Bellemont. Very wide, severe forest damage (EF-2+) in the forest south of Bellemont.
  • Tornado visually sighted by NWS staff at the National Weather Service Office.
  • Continuous EF-1 and EF-2+ along the track (up to 2/3 mile wide) south of Bellemont.
  • Tornado passed 1/3 mile west of the WFO FGZ.

Tornado #4 2 mi W Bellemont: (Est. 6:50 – 7:14 AM) EF-3 (18.6 mile length)

  • The tornado was estimated as an EF-2 due to extensive forest damage in a path surveyed by NWS personnel.
  • Some evidence of tornadic cycling, with three possible tornado events.
  • Tornado passed 2 miles west of WFO FGZ.

Tornado #5 15 mi SSW Flagstaff (Est. 9:10 – 9:17 AM) EF-2 (2.4 mile length)

  • Short path of significant tornadic damage between two other tracks near the Mogollon Rim.

Tornado #6 11 mi SE Cordes Junction (Est. 10:30 AM) EF-0

  • Tornado observed by trained chaser east of I-17, near Cordes Junction. No damage reported.
  • Estimated 50 yards wide, in grassland east of Interstate.

Tornado #7 2 mi S Munds Park (12:05 PM MST) EF-0 Path unknown. Same tornado as #8?

  • Tornado sighted by DPS officials S. of Munds Park. No damage observed.

Tornado #8 4 mi S. Flagstaff (12:20 PM MST) EF-0 Path unknown. Same tornado as #7?

  • Tornado sighted by DPS officials 4 mi S. Country Club neighborhood.

Tornado #9 19 mi SE Tuba City (Est time 12:10 PM MST) EF-3 Path unknown


Impacts

Overview of General Impacts

  • Minor injuries were reported across the tornado paths.
  • Significant damage, mainly in the Bellemon area, to houses and businesses.
  • Interstate 40 experienced debris blown onto it and at least one blown over semi-truck.
  • BNSF trains were halted in the area due to the tornado warnings.
  • Multiple forest service roads were closed due to debris and caused campers to be stranded.
  • Power was out for the Bellemont area due to downed power lines and snapped power poles.

Impacts Related to Specific Tornados

Tornado #1:

  • Multiple forest roads blocked by fallen trees.

Tornado #2:

  • -Six people were treated and released for minor injuries. -Over 120 homes damaged in Bellemont. Of those, 21 homes sustained significant damage and were deemed not habitable. -At least one business (RV Sales) was reported to have experienced damage – with 30+ RV units totaled and tossed onto I-40. The Interstate was closed for several hours. -At least one overturned truck on the Interstate.

Tornado #3:

  • - Multiple train cars were derailed in Bellemont. Power poles were snapped and down on Camp Navajo. Numerous forest roads were blocked and left campers stranded by fallen trees.

Tornado #4:

  • - Extensive forest damage.

Tornado #5-8:

  • - No observed damage was reported.

Tornado #9:

  • - Three metal high-voltage transmission towers crumpled in a remote part of the Navajo and Hopi Reservations of northeastern Arizona.
Pictures

 

Tornado Tracks In Bellemont

Tornado Tracks In Bellemont

Arial View Of Tornado Tracks In Bellemont

Arial View Of Tornado Tracks In Bellemont

Bellemont Tornado Damage

Bellemont Tornado Damage

Bellemont Tornado Damage

Bellemont Tornado Damage

Bellemont Tornado Damage

Bellemont Tornado Damage

Bellemont RV Park Tornado Damage

Bellemont RV Park Tornado Damage

Multiple Train Cars Derailed In Bellemont

Multiple Train Cars Derailed In Bellemont

Semi Blown Over On I-40 In Bellemont

Semi Blown Over On I-40 In Bellemont

Several Trees Snapped In Half Near Bellemont

Several Trees Snapped In Half Near Bellemont

Trees Snapped From The Blue Ridge Tornado

Trees Snapped From The Blue Ridge Tornado

Trees Snapped From The Blue Ridge Tornado

Trees Snapped From The Blue Ridge Tornado

Baseball-sized hail in Cornville

Baseball-sized hail in Cornville

 

Meteorology

 

This was an unusual event meteorologically for northern Arizona as the parameters for generating severe thunderstorms were all in place at once. A cold low pressure system off the California coast combined with strong southwesterly winds allowed for enough moisture, instability, and rotation in the atmosphere to produce several tornadoes.

Points of Contact

For more information on impacts and general inquiries about this event, please reference the contacts below:

  • National Weather Service: Brian Klimowski, Meteorologist-in-Charge at (928) 556-9161 ext. 222 or brian.klimowski@noaa.gov
    Tony Merriman, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at (928) 556-9161 ext. 223 or tony.merriman@noaa.gov

  • Coconino County: Todd Whitney, Coconino County Emergency Manager at (928) 679-8310 or twhitney@coconino.az.gov

  • Camp Navajo: Camp Navajo Construction Facilities Management Office at (928) 773-3235