Rare Tornadoes Strike Desert Southwest, Touching Down in Arizona and Nevada

Most of the Desert Southwest averages less than 10 inches of precipitation a year, but when it rains, it pours. Parts of Arizona, Nevada and Utah got a bit more than they bargained for Sunday when afternoon monsoonal downpours popped up, with several tornadoes touching down.

Tornadoes are a rarity in the southwestern United States, but multiple twisters were on the ground simultaneously for a time Sunday evening. One churned ominously close to Interstate 15 in Nevada, and another was photographed from near Lake George, Utah, as it slipped into northern Arizona.

Part of southern Arizona was included in a Level 1 out of 5 marginal risk for severe thunderstorms by the Storm Prediction Center in early morning forecasts. The chance of tornadoes was never advertised.

“[I was] looking south and that’s when I first saw the funnel,” wrote Brody Cowing, a rising junior in high school who was visiting his grandparents near St. George, Utah, at the time. Cowing plans to attend college and study atmospheric sciences or meteorology, and had known severe thunderstorms were possible.

“I brought out my new camera onto the back porch of my grandma’s house just to try to catch some photos of the mammatus on the anvil from the [western] storm near Mesquite,” he wrote. Mammatus clouds, which form on the underside of thunderstorm anvils, resemble bubble wrap-like pouches. “I tried bagging some cool pics, but didn’t have much luck [at first].”

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Source: MSN