Wednesday, September 28, 2022


Damage from T-storm hits Quartzsite, Arizona—hard

Mother Nature dealt the Snowbird Capital of the West—Quartzsite—a tough hand last week. On Friday, August 12, thunderstorms that developed in Central Arizona drifted west, pausing briefly over Quartzsite. Before traveling on, downbursts of wind uprooted dozens of trees, twisted street signs into weird shapes, uprooted and gave wing to storage sheds, and overturned RVs. The damage is still being tallied.

“Similar to that of weak tornadoes”

R&T De Maris photo

A weather service official with the Phoenix office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Tom Frieders, told staff that while the weather wasn’t completely unusual for Quartzsite, the damage that befell the town was “Similar to that of weak tornadoes.” Some locals suggested that the destruction was caused by a tornado, but Frieders said no twisters were involved, just downbursts from a passing thunderstorm.

T. G. Shuck/WKYT via

What’s a downburst, and how can it create so much damage? A downburst is a column of air that sinks. Don’t think of a slow sink, but a fast one. Once a downburst hits the ground, it spreads out in all directions. A nasty downburst can create straight-line winds up to 150 miles per hour.

R&T De Maris photo

“Downbursts,” says NOAA’s Tom Frieders, “don’t impact a large area.” And so it was for Quartzsite on that hard-driving Friday morning. You could practically draw a line along the east curb of Arizona 95. Across the street, little damage was found. But east of the 95, plenty of trouble was created. Seemingly dozens of trees along Plymouth Avenue from town hall south to Main Street were uprooted. One of the fighter jets stationed near the town’s baseball field appeared to have had an ejection. The rear canopy of the plane was ripped off, leaving the cockpit exposed to rain.

Camel toes up

Things went rolling that should normally stay put. In the Horizon Community Bank parking lot, a life-size camel statue rolled over practically toes up. At the RV dealer lot at the corner of Main Street and Riggles Road, a travel trailer was rolled off its wheels and onto its side. Unfortunately, it was parked close enough that when it landed, it sheared off the siding of a slideout on a neighboring RV.

R&T De Maris photo

An area RV park near Sunrise and Joshua street, which at one time touted the land as being “a future gated community,” found itself not quite so secure. Two sections of its seemingly sturdy concrete block walls tumbled when the winds blasted through. One wag, posting on local social media, suggested that when the wall builders ran low on mortar, they substituted “denture cream.” Perhaps a modern day Jericho?

R&T De Maris photo

While the damage was significant, law enforcement says they logged no reports of injuries. But the weather service warns, “If it is felt that a storm will produce a damaging downburst, a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued. Normally a Tornado Warning is not issued, since a downburst is not a tornado. As a result, it is very important to take Severe Thunderstorm Warnings just as seriously as Tornado Warnings!” Since storm shelters are few and far between in Quartzsite, maybe the snowbirds have it right. Stay out of town during the Monsoon season!



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1 month ago

So sorry for the damage to residents and businesses in the area, but so glad no one was hurt. Wild weather seems to be on the rise. Wind in the desert is pretty much standard fare. However, this past winter we felt that winds in the BLM lands S of town were higher and more frequent than in previous years. We ‘hid’ most of the time on the lee side of our trailer, keeping our awning firmly roped down ‘just in case.’ Glad we had nothing like this to contend with!

Sharon B
1 month ago

Hope the Propane /RV place is ok

Sally Harnish
1 month ago

Is Silly Al’s in good shape?

Steve Murray
1 month ago

Cameltoes Up.. I see what you did there..

1 month ago


1 month ago

Who wants to be in Arizona in AUGUST ? HOT HOT HOT

1 month ago


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