Storm Postmortem: Thunderous end to August in southern Arizona

We called for a 30% chance of scattered storms through midnight. We did not anticipate activity lingering well into the overnight hours for Metro Tucson. So what happened?

KTUS 00Z 090115

Above is the Tucson upper air data from 5 PM yesterday. The area between the dark red dashed line and red solid line indicates an unstable atmosphere. As great meteorological mind Bob Maddox pointed out in his blog earlier today, considerable lift was needed to get storms fired up. Thanks to repeated rounds of mountain storms, outflow winds provided the needed lift.


For much of Tucson, last night was a saguaro soaker. Over 0.75″ rain officially at the airport between 5 PM Monday and 3 AM today. The mountains were crushed with 2-5″ of rainfall, which caused some running washes/streams during the morning commute. Casa de Beamish in Oro Valley received 1.25″ rain, with the bulk of it coming down around 1 AM. I know the timing because it woke me & my family up! Click here for the complete list of rain totals compiled by the fine folks at NWS Tucson.

Not too many severe wind reports from last night, but a pair of microbursts took down trees in Oro Valley and near La Paloma. Phoenix took the brunt of the nastiness, with 30 severe wind/damage reports. Many of these reports came from the Arizona State Fairgrounds area & around Arizona State University. Colleague Dr. Matt Pace at 12 News says last night’s storms in The Valley have a 4-20% chance of happening every year. This is the second time in as many weeks Phoenix saw a widespread severe wind event.

With hindsight being 20/20, I’d grade my Tucson forecast from yesterday with a “C-“. We saw the scattered action. But the timing was off & it had a bit more of an impact than expected.


4 thoughts on “Storm Postmortem: Thunderous end to August in southern Arizona

  1. Jeff:
    Your honesty in grading your forecast is greatly appreciated ! There are few media meteorologists who admit “mistakes”” after the fact.
    Not to worry..for weather geeks (like me) you are the best TV forecaster in Tucson

    1. IMO, a blown forecast is an opportunity to learn. Makes for better forecasts down the road. For what it’s worth, I’ve had MUCH worse busts.

    1. Based on RainLog data, roughly 6.50″ thus far. Likely adding to it over the next few weeks. I’ll have a complete Monsoon recap on the blog October 1st. Thanks for logging on!

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