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Rare tornado hits Willcox, Arizona


Remnants of Hurricane "Lorena" brought floods, strong winds, and a very rare tornado to Arizona on September 23, 2019. 

The tornado hit the city of Willcox late September 23, injuring 2 people, NWS confirmed. The agency rated it as EF-1 with speeds of 145 to 160 km/h (90 to 100 mph), a path length of 2.8 km (1.75 miles) and width of 530 m (0.33 miles).

According to Ken Drozd with National Weather Service (NWS) in Tucson, Arizona receives an average of four tornadoes per year and typically these are dust devils that have been sucked into a thunderstorm which also do not leave much destruction.

The tornado approached the Cave Creek and New River areas near Phoenix on the afternoon of September 23. According to the NWS, they issued a tornado warning for the first time in five years.

"Now, in this case, we had a descending tornado that you would more typically see in the central Plains," Drozd added.

Over 1 800 customers lost electricity, while one resident reported that around 40 trees were uprooted in his area.

The remnants of Lorena not only produced tornadoes but also floods and strong winds. On the same day, a school bus with 120 children onboard was trapped in floods in the Phoenix area.

According to Battalion Chief Kevin Spirlong of the Surprise, Arizona Fire Department, all children have been rescued safely. Following this, schools in Apache Junction were suspended early at 11:45 LT.

Emergency personnel reportedly conducted at least five water rescues in Apache Junction, which is about 58 km (36 miles) east of Phoenix.

"Moisture from the remnants of former eastern Pacific Hurricane Lorena has pushed into southern Arizona where it's interacting with a strong jet stream disturbance," Weather.com Meteorologist Chris Dolce stated.

"That setup is triggering the development of numerous showers and thunderstorms in southern and central Arizona, which could cause more flash flooding through early Tuesday. Severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and large hail are also a potential threat."

Storms are expected to continue through Thursday, September 26.

Lorena formed on September 17  and intensified into a hurricane on September 18 near Colima, Mexico. This was the 14th storm of the 2019 Pacific hurricane season.

Featured image credit: National Weather Service

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  1. This was so crazy..wind just picked up hail started hitting the windows then I got a message on my phone that said Tornado warning in your area..ran to my closet and prayed to Jesus then it stopped. Praise Jesus no one was killed.

  2. Hoping everyone there is doing well and recovering quickly. Being a person raised in Bowie and have had lived in Willcox, it kind of shocked me to know there was another tornado in the Willcox area. The first one, that I remember, was in 2003/4 when it tore the roof off a bar. Weather is changing.

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