What to do if a tornado touches down in Southern Arizona

While extremely rare, tornadoes in the Sonoran Desert have been known to happen. Since 1950, Metro Tucson has recorded 20 tornado touchdowns. Sadly, a few of them have claimed lives.

What’s a person to do if the rarity becomes reality? Here are some tornado do’s and don’t, tailored to Southern Arizona.


  • Run outside or head to a window to find the tornado
  • Open your windows to decrease air pressure. That’s a myth.
  • Shelter under a highway overpass. Winds increase in the narrow gaps of the bridges, thus increasing your risk of injury or death.
  • Try to outrun a tornado in your car. Find the nearest shelter, ditch or low-lying area.


  • Seek shelter in an interior room or lowest level of your home. Bathrooms without exterior walls are a good example of safe haven.
  • Cover yourself with blankets or a pillow
  • Leave your mobile home! Sounds counterproductive, but your odds of survival are much greater by seeking shelter in a permanent structure, ditch or low-lying area.
  • Stuck outside? Head to a ditch or low-lying area. Crouch low and cover your head with your hands.
  • Have a NOAA weather radio set to alert mode during the Monsoon. This may be your first line of defense against severe weather.

Click here to see more tornado safety tips from the Storm Prediction Center.


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