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Review of July 26, 2006 Severe thunderstorm and Flash flood event

With abundant moisture in place following the strong Gulf Surge on July 25th, the stage was set for another active day across Southeastern Arizona. The 12Z KTUS sounding showed a precipitable water value of 1.57". (Figure 1) Dewpoints across Southeast Arizona were also in the 60's, thus it wouldn't take much to get thunderstorm activity going once again. The only inhibiting factor would be overcoming a cooler and more stable environment across the areas that got hit the hardest on July 25th. The mid/upper level pattern had an area of high pressure across the northwest portion of the state which would steer storms that formed across toward the south and west.

Thunderstorms started firing across the White Mountains and Cochise County around midday with the brunt of the thunderstorm activity situated across Cochise County through the afternoon into the early evening. The strongest storm of the day was near Elfrida in Cochise County where 1" hail was reported along with trees down due to wind damage. Tucson Doppler radar data showed the Elfrida storm intensified considerably due to cell mergers from a couple of smaller cells merging into one larger cell. Radar reflectivity near 20,000 feet above ground level was about 70dBZ with this cell which was indicative of a good hail shaft. The same cell also caused flash flooding with a vehicle stuck in a wash along Whitewater School Rd.

Other than Cochise County and Greenlee County the rest of Southeast Arizona was generally spared thunderstorms during the day on July 26th. This was not to last though as this long event would continue with the first night of 5 with considerable nocturnal activity about to begin.

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July 26 2006 12z (5am) Tucson upper air sounding
Figure 1 - Tucson sounding from 12z July 26, 2006
Radar movie
 

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