Viewer captures photos of funnel cloud in Gila County

PHOENIX (KSAZ) - When talking about tornadoes in Arizona, we don't see the scale and frequency that others would experience in the Midwest or Great Plains, but they can happen.

According to Marvin Percha from the National Weather Service Phoenix, on average the Grand Canyon state sees an average of five tornadoes per year.

"Basically, as you go up through the atmosphere, you have changes in wind velocity and also wind direction, and what that tends to do is put a torque and put a column in a thunderstorm," he said. "That's how you end up with funnel clouds and tornadoes."

Photos snapped by FOX 10 viewer Eric Savage last Sunday south on Highway 288, north of Roosevelt Lake show quite a distinguished funnel cloud. Savage says the formation disappeared only a few seconds later and never touched the ground.

Percha says although rare, he's not surprised to see a funnel cloud following the recent monsoon activity.

"Over the last few weeks, we've been having about anywhere from 25-to-40-mile-an-hour winds about 18,000 feet and that is what you need to generate severe storms and tornadoes," he said.

Looking at the radar from Sunday, Percha says the winds were particularly strong where Eric was, near Young, Arizona.

"So that kind of supports what he likely saw out there and he did get some great pictures," Percha said.

Overall, Percha says the monsoon season has been significantly more active compared to previous years.

"It's been busier than usual, the storms seem to be stronger, I would say more severe than usual, so it's been definitely keeping us on our toes, maybe a little more than last couple years," he said.