Mastering the monsoon: Tornadoes in Tucson?

Mastering the monsoon: Tornadoes in Tucson?

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A tornado in Tucson?

It's more common than you might think. In fact, Arizona gets about three to four tornadoes each year. But it was the tornado off Interstate 10 in Pima County last summer that caught a lot of people's attention.

Dan Leins, science & operations officer with the National Weather Service Tucson office was working the night of July 14, 2017 when he noticed an unusual storm brewing east of Tucson.

The storm was beginning to rotate and make its way toward the interstate in Marana. With high winds and moisture, Leins said the right ingredients were in place.

"The first thing that goes through your mind is -- do we need to send out an alert to notify people that a dangerous storm is moving their way," said Leins.

And that's exactly what the team did. About a half an hour later, pictures and videos appeared on social media. One of those videos was from Audria Abney. She thought it was a dust devil.

"I kind of laughed at the warning. I'm like a tornado in Arizona? Yeah right!" said Abney.

But thanks to Abney's video and others like it, experts confirmed it was indeed a weak EF-0 land spout tornado.

"To actually see something like this occur was fascinating," said Leins after watching the storm for several hours.

Leins added the tornado is a great example of how variable the weather can be in southern Arizona. "You can have a quiet day turn busy to that in just a matter of 45 minutes to an hour."

And luckily, since this particular tornado happened in an empty field, there was no damage. Leins said had the tornado occurred somewhere else, it could have been a totally different story.

As we head into the monsoon, Leins said it's best to be prepared and have a plan for your family. If you are driving, know the route and know where you are going to detour. If you are home, plan to get to the most inside room of your house.

"Maybe your power is going to be out for a number of hours. You might not have power for several days, so have a plan in place in case you have severe weather," said Leins.

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