Natural Threats & Hazards

These events are emergencies caused by forces extraneous to man in elements of the natural environment. Natural hazards are often interrelated. For example, flash flooding often occurs in areas burnt by wildland fires because there is less vegetation to slow the flow of water.

  1. Damaging Wind
  2. Drought
  3. Dust Storms
  4. Earthquakes, Fissures, Landslides
  5. Extreme Heat
  6. Flooding
  7. Monsoon Storms
  8. Wildfires

Unlike other parts of the country, thunderstorm wind gusts here in the Southwest almost always exceed 40 mph. The strongest wind gusts can exceed 100 mph, and can produce damage similar to a tornado!

STRAIGHT-LINE WIND is a term used to define any thunderstorm wind that is not associated with rotation, and is used mainly to differentiate from tornadic winds. Straight-line winds can travel dozens of miles away from the thunderstorm that produced them.

A DOWNBURST is a strong downdraft resulting in an outward burst of damaging straight-line winds on or near the ground, sometimes producing damage similar to a strong tornado.

TORNADOES do occur in Arizona. Unfortunately, many of them here are not detectable by radar because they are either too small, hidden by interfering mountains, or develop from the ground up. While they do not last long, they can occur with little or no warning, and can do considerable damage.

Damaging Wind Brochure (PDF)

Damaging Wind Brochure - Spanish (PDF)

More information on Damaging Winds

Arizona Emergency Information Network

National Severe Storms Laboratory

National Weather Service