…Top Arizona Hurricane/Tropical Storm Events…

 

Over the years, there have been numerous times that the remnants of hurricanes and tropical storms have affected Arizona.  Although there has never been a case when one of these storms actually entered Arizona as a hurricane, there have been several occasions when these storms entered Arizona while still classified as a tropical storm.   Here is a list of some of the more notable storms that have affected Arizona. 

 

1921…Unnamed Storm…

September 25-30…A tropical storm crossed the Baja peninsula southwest of Yuma and moved up the Colorado River Valley.  Several stations along the Colorado River reported in excess of three inches of rain, including 3.65 inches at Yuma.   Other amounts included 1.50 at Flagstaff, 1.24 at Prescott, 0.68 at Tucson, and 0.56 at Phoenix.

 

1926…Unnamed Storm…

September 20-25…A tropical storm moved into the Gulf of California and came ashore on the western coast of Mexico.  Over five inches of rain fell in extreme southeast Arizona in the vicinity of Douglas.

 

1927…Unnamed Storm…

September 7-12…A hurricane moved into the Gulf of California and came ashore on the western coast of Mexico.  One to two inches of rain was reported over much of Arizona.

 

1939…Unnamed Storm…

September 4-6…A hurricane came ashore on the Baja peninsula southwest of Yuma.  In excess of 5.00 inches of rain falls in northwest Arizona.  Other amounts included 2.55 at Prescott, 1.41 at Tucson, 1.37 at Flagstaff, and 1.09 at Phoenix.

 

1951…Unnamed Storm…

August 24-28… A hurricane came ashore on the Baja peninsula southwest of Yuma.  In excess of 5.00 inches of rain falls in southwest Arizona.  Other amounts included 4.00 at Flagstaff, 3.95 at Prescott, 3.24 at Phoenix, and 1.55 at Nogales.

Severe flooding is reported, and Gila Bend is cut off from motor travel as bridges and roads are washed out.   Damage in 1951 dollars exceeds $750,000. 

 

1962…Tropical Storm Claudia…

September 25 through 27 1962...The remains of Tropical Storm Claudia causes severe flash flooding in and around Tucson.  Up to seven inches of rain falls in the desert just west of Tucson near the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.  Flood waters inundate Marana and Sells.

 

1967…Hurricane Katrina...

August 29-September 2…Hurricane Katrina comes up the Gulf of California and comes ashore south of Yuma.  Over 2.00 inches of rain fall in southwest Arizona with lesser amounts elsewhere. 

 

1970…Tropical Storm Norma…Arizona’s deadliest storm…

More commonly known as “The Labor Day storm of 1970”, the remains of tropical Storm Norma cause severe flooding in central portions of Arizona, and becomes  Arizona’s most deadly storm.  There are 23 deaths in central Arizona...including 14 from flash flooding on Tonto Creek in the vicinity of Kohl’s Ranch.  Total rainfall at Workman Creek...about 30 miles north of Globe in the Sierra Ancha mountains...is 11.92 inches...with 11.40 inches falling in 24 hours.  Other rainfall amounts include 9.09 at Upper Parker Creek...8.74 at Mount Lemmon...8.44 at Sunflower...8.08 at Kitt Peak...7.12 at the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery...and 7.01 inches at Crown King.

 

1972…Hurricane Joanne…

October 4 through 7 1972...Tropical Storm Joanne (earlier a hurricane) moves across the Baja peninsula and comes ashore in western Mexico south of Ajo.  The storm brings heavy rain and flooding to much of the state.  It is the first “documented” time that a tropical storm reaches Arizona with its cyclonic circulation intact.  Heavy rains fall over much of the state with severe flooding in the Clifton...Duncan...and Safford areas.   Over 5.00 inches of rain is reported on the Mogollon rim southeast of Flagstaff.  Rainfall amounts included 4.44 at Flagstaff, 3.80 at Prescott, 2.21 at Yuma, 1.95 at Phoenix, 1.63 at Nogales, and 1.63 at Tucson.

 

1976…Hurricane Kathleen…

On September 10 and 11 the remains of Hurricane Kathleen move across Baja and into southern California near El Centro. With its circulation still intact...tropical storm force winds produce considerable damage in Yuma.  Sustained winds exceed 50 mph, and gust as high as 76 mph in Yuma.  One man is killed as a 75 foot palm tree crashes onto his mobile home. Severe flooding occurs in Mohave county.  Residual moisture brings more severe thunderstorms to the state on September 24 and 25. The Tucson area is particularly hard hit with flash flooding and hail as large as golf balls. Hail covers the ground to a depth of 5 inches on Mount Lemmon.

 

1977…Hurricane Doreen…

August 13-18… Hurricane Doreen paralleled the west coast of Baja before dissipating west of San Diego.  Severe flooding occurs in Yuma County, and around Bullhead City.  Rainfall in Yuma totals 2.96 inches.  Severe flooding also occurred in California’s Imperial Valley.  

 

1977…Hurricane Heather…

October 4 through 7 1977...the remains of Hurricane Heather produces heavy rain and major flooding over extreme southern Arizona.  8.30 inches of rain falls at Nogales...with as much as 14 inches in the surrounding mountains.

 

1983…Hurricane Octave…

September 28 through October 7 1983...Tropical storm remains...including those from Hurricane Octave... cause heavy rain over Arizona during a 10 day period.  Southeast Arizona...and Yavapai and Mohave counties are particularly hard hit. Severe flooding occurs in Tucson...Clifton...and Safford. Fourteen deaths and 975 injuries are attributed to the flooding.  At least 10000 Arizonans are left temporarily homeless. Damage in today’s dollars is estimated at 370 million.  Rainfall amounts include 9.83 at Nogales, 6.67 at Safford, 6.40 at Tucson, 3.93 at Flagstaff, 2.65 at Phoenix, and 2.62 at Prescott.

 

1997…Hurricane Nora…

September 25 and 26 1997...the remains of hurricane Nora moves up the Colorado river.  The center of the storm passes directly over Yuma...where winds gust as high as 54 mph.  Significant flooding occurs across western Arizona. 11.97 inches of rain falls in 24 hours on top of Harquahala Mountain...breaking the 24 hour record set at Workman Creek in the 1970 Labor Day Storm.  3.59 inches of rain falls at the Yuma Airport.  The average “annual” rainfall in Yuma is 3.17 inches.