Plentiful rain, tornadoes mark October weather in northern Arizona

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br>Drivers make their way through an Oct. 4 heavy rainfall on Highway 69 that hit the Prescott/Prescott Valley area around 4:30 that afternoon.  The storm hit suddenly and turned the blue sky into almost a night time black sky.

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br>Drivers make their way through an Oct. 4 heavy rainfall on Highway 69 that hit the Prescott/Prescott Valley area around 4:30 that afternoon. The storm hit suddenly and turned the blue sky into almost a night time black sky.

October brought unusually plentiful rains to Prescott, ironically just after the monsoon ended on a dry note.

October also was unusual for a series of tornadoes that struck northern Arizona.

Prescott's official Sundog weather station on the northeast side of the city recorded 2.46 inches of rain in October, which is 226 percent of the 112-year average. The rain fell in several events between Oct. 2 and Oct. 22. Seventy-four percent of the rain fell Oct. 2-7.

By contrast, September's 0.10 inches of rain was only 6 percent of average.

Because of the frequent cloud cover in October, the month's average maximum (daytime) temperature was a few degrees below average while the average minimum (nighttime) temperature was 4.6 degrees above average.

The Prescott airport recorded 3.11 inches of rain in October, which was 2.3 inches above average.

That was the fourth-wettest October in the airport's 62-year history, according to the National Weather Service.

Across northern Arizona, the big weather story for October was the series of eight tornadoes that struck on Oct. 6. Tornadoes are relatively rare in Arizona.

Coincidentally, most of the tornadoes touched down in the vicinity of the National Weather Service office in Bellemont just west of Flagstaff. Two tornadoes passed within two-thirds of a mile of the Weather Service office, and Weather Service personnel saw one of the tornadoes through their office windows when it was just one-third of a mile away.

One of those tornadoes that struck Bellemont caused six minor injuries and damaged more than 100 homes, rendering at least 21 homes uninhabitable, according to the Weather Service's preliminary report.

That EF-2 tornado also demolished more than 30 recreational vehicles at an RV sales business and tossed them onto Interstate 40, closing the interstate for hours.

The tornado overturned at least one truck moving along I-40 and blocked several forest roads, stranding campers.

The other early-morning Bellemont tornado derailed 28 railcars, snapped power poles and blocked forest roads.

A couple other tornadoes also hit ground in the vicinity. Others hit in the area of Munds Park and Tuba City. The strongest, at EF-3, collapsed three 500KV electrical transmission towers about 19 miles southeast of Tuba City.

One tornado landed in Yavapai County, 11 miles south of Cordes Junction in the grasslands east of Interstate 17. No damage was reported.

The same storm produced widespread hail. In Yavapai County, spotters reported 2-inch-diameter hail in Cordes, 1.25-inch hail in Rimrock and 1-inch hail just south of Cottonwood.

Another storm in late October produced wind gusts as strong as 55 mph, including 43 mph gusts at the Prescott airport.

This week's weather is much different, with a forecast for mostly sunny days and above-average temperatures.