Other Natural Hazards

  1. Damaging Wind
  2. Drought
  3. Earth Fissures & Landslides
  4. Earthquakes

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.


  • Secure any outdoor items including furniture and loose gutters.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Trim tree branches away from your home. Ask the power company to clear branches from power lines.


  • Immediately go inside a sturdy building into an interior room.
  • If you are in a mobile home, move to a sturdy building before the winds pick up or the storm system reaches your location.
  • Bring pets indoors.
  • If the wind suddenly shifts and blows toward you from an approaching storm, while the temperature either becomes much colder or much hotter, the winds are likely to become even stronger. Move indoors!
  • If no shelter is available avoid trees, power lines, and the side of the road. Try to find a place that will block blowing or falling debris.
  • Stay at least 100 feet away from downed power lines. The ground may be electrified.
  • If in a vehicle, find and drive to a sturdy building. Hold the steering wheel with both hands and slow down.
  • If you are not near a sturdy building, take shelter in your car. Move your car to a location where it is less likely to be hit by falling trees or power lines.
  • Keep a distance from high profile vehicles such as trucks, buses and vehicles towing trailers. One strong gust of wind can be enough to flip one of these trailers onto its side.


  • Drive with caution. Anticipate traffic light outages and obstacles in the road. Report broken utility lines and damaged roadways and railways to appropriate authorities as soon as possible.
  • Be careful when handling debris that may have blown into your yard.
  • Stay away from wind-damaged areas.
  • If your home or property is damaged, take photos/videos of damage, list all damaged items, and contact your insurance agent to discuss claims.

Damaging Wind Brochure (PDF)

Damaging Wind Brochure - Spanish (PDF)

More information on Damaging Winds

National Severe Storms Laboratory

National Weather Service