Residents of a small community near Flagstaff, Ariz., began clearing debris Thursday from a series of tornadoes that derailed a train, tore roofs off houses, shattered windows and left semi-trucks strewn across a highway.
"This will likely rank as one of the greatest tornado outbreaks in Arizona," said Brian Klimowski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Flagstaff. "This was a very significant event."
Though tornadoes are not unusual in northern Arizona — about two to five are reported each year — they are not usually as strong as the ones that struck Wednesday, Klimowski said.
More than 200 homes in Bellemont, 15 miles west of Flagstaff, were damaged in the storm, which affected a 36-mile-long stretch of land. About 30 homes are uninhabitable, said Brenda Grey, a public information officer with Coconino County.