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(Photo: National Weather Service- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
Arizona residents who are following the destructive paths of hurricanes Harvey and Irma may be wondering if a hurricane has ever hit Arizona.
Given the state’s heat, drought and other factors, Arizona has been spared the punch of a full-on hurricane. But it periodically gets the remnants of Pacific hurricanes in the form of rain, and some of those storms have reached Arizona at tropical-storm strength.
The most recent was the remains of Hurricane Nora in 1997. Here are some of the more significant storms that have reached Arizona, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Sept. 21-30, 1921, unnamed storm: A tropical storm crossed the Baja peninsula southwest of Yuma and moved up the Colorado River Valley. Several stations along the Colorado River reported more than 3 inches of rain, including 3.65 inches at Yuma. Other amounts included 1.5 inches at Flagstaff, 1.24 at Prescott, 0.68 at Tucson and 0.56 at Phoenix.
Aug. 24-28, 1951, unnamed storm: A hurricane came ashore on the Baja peninsula southwest of Yuma. More than 5 inches of rain fell in southwestern Arizona. Other amounts included 4 inches in Flagstaff, 3.95 at Prescott, 3.24 at Phoenix and 1.55 at Nogales.
Severe flooding was reported, and Gila Bend was cut off from motor travel as bridges and roads were washed out. Damage in 1951 dollars exceeded $750,000.
Sept. 25-27, 1962, Tropical Storm Claudia: The remains of Tropical Storm Claudia caused severe flash flooding in and around Tucson. Up to 7 inches of rain fell in the desert just west of Tucson near the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Flood water inundated Marana and Sells.
Aug. 29-Sept. 2, 1967, Hurricane Katrina: Hurricane Katrina blew up the Gulf of California and came ashore south of Yuma. More than 2 inches of rain fell in southwest Arizona.
Flood kills 23: On Labor Day in 1970, a flash flood killed 23 people, with most of the fatalities coming in the Mogollon Rim area as campers there did not get word of the approaching water. A National Weather Service report at the time said all but four of the victims were in automobiles, attempting to outrun the water.
(Photo: Photo: The Republic/azc)
Sept. 4-5, 1970, Tropical Storm Norma: This did not make landfall as a tropical storm, but its remnants caused extensive flooding in Arizona and it became known as the Labor Day Storm, the state’s deadliest. Twenty-three people were killed in central Arizona, including 14 who died 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, was 11.92 inches, with 11.4 inches falling in 24 hours. Other amounts included 9.09 inches 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.
Oct. 4-7, 1972, Hurricane Joanne: This storm moved across the Baja peninsula and came ashore in western Mexico south of Ajo.
It arrived in Arizona as Tropical Storm Joanne, the first documented time that a tropical storm reached the state with its cyclonic circulation intact.
Heavy rain fell over much Arizona with severe flooding in Clifton, Duncan and Safford. More than 5 inches of rain was reported on the Mogollon Rim southeast of Flagstaff. Rainfall amounts included 4.44 inches at Flagstaff, 3.80 at Prescott, 2.21 at Yuma, 1.95 at Phoenix, 1.63 at Nogales and 1.63 at Tucson.
Sept. 10-11, 1976, Hurricane Kathleen: The remains of Hurricane Kathleen move across Baja and into southern California near El Centro with its circulation still intact. Tropical storm-force winds caused considerable damage in Yuma. Sustained winds exceeded 50 mph there, and gusts were as high as 76 mph. A man was killed when a 75-foot palm tree crashed onto his mobile home.
Oct. 4-7, 1977, Hurricane Heather: The remains of the storm produced heavy rain and flooding over extreme southern Arizona, with 8.3 inches of rain at Nogales. As much as 14 inches fell in the surrounding mountains.
Flood kills 14: In the first weekend of October 1983, 14 people were killed due to flooding as the remnants of a tropical storm brought rain to the area. Interstate 10 south of Phoenix was closed when the Gila River overflowed its banks. The river was measured at over a mile wide in spots during the flooding. Some residents of Stansfield and Maricopa were forced to climb onto their roofs to wait for National Guard helicopters to rescue them. The flooding destroyed more than 800 homes and caused more than $500 million in damage.
Sept. 28-Oct. 7, 1983, Hurricane Octave: Tropical-storm remnants, including those from Octave, caused heavy rain over Arizona during a 10-day period. Southeast Arizona and Yavapai and Mohave counties were particularly hard hit. Severe flooding occurred in Tucson, Clifton and Safford.
Remnants of Hurricane Nora over the Southwest United States on Sept. 23, 1997. Remnants of Nora reached Arizona at Tropical Storm strength.
Fourteen deaths and 975 injuries were attributed to the flooding. At least 10,000 Arizonans were left temporarily homeless. Damage in today’s dollars is estimated at $370 million. Rainfall amounts include 9.83 inches at Nogales, 6.67 at Safford, 6.4 at Tucson, 3.93 at Flagstaff, 2.65 at Phoenix and 2.62 at Prescott.
Sept. 25-26, 1997, Hurricane Nora: The remains of hurricane Nora moved up the Colorado River. The center of the storm passed directly over Yuma with wind gusts up to 54 mph. Significant flooding occurred across western Arizona.
Harquahala Mountain saw 11.97 inches of rain in a 24-hour period, breaking the record set at Workman Creek in the 1970 Labor Day Storm.