Threats & Hazards

There are many types of natural, technological, and man-made threats and hazards that could affect Maricopa County.The Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management plans for, prepares for, mitigates, responds to, and aids in recovery from these events. Knowing what risks you may face may allow you to prepare for and act in response to these threats and hazards.

Visit for more information on how to prepare for specific emergencies.

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

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

  1. Earthquakes
  2. Extreme Heat
  3. Flooding
  4. Hazardous Materials

All 50 states are at some risk of EARTHQUAKES. Large earthquakes in Arizona are rare, but not unheard of. Since 1850, Arizona has had more than 20 earthquakes with magnitudes of 5.0 or higher. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the largest earthquake on record in Arizona measured 5.6 in July 1959. Maricopa County rarely has earthquakes, but they do happen. Often quakes in other counties are felt here, like the 2015 quake in Yavapai County near Black Canyon City. Three earthquakes from magnitudes 3.2 to 4.1 were felt 45 miles away in Phoenix. 

Earthquake Brochure (PDF)

Earthquake Brochure - Spanish (PDF)

More Information on Earthquakes

Arizona Geological Survey

Arizona Emergency Information Network

Great Arizona Shake Out

  1. Monsoon Storms
  2. Power Outages
  3. Terrorism
  4. Wildfires

Monsoon Season is the most dangerous time of year weather-wise in the Southwest. Although the Monsoon brings welcome rains and relief from the summer heat, the thunderstorms that come with the Monsoon bring their own hazards. Lightning, severe wind, dust storms, and flooding can all accompany thunderstorms, causing injuries and property damage.

Monsoon Brochure (PDF)

Monsoon Brochure - Spanish (PDF)

More information on Monsoon Storms

Arizona Emergency Information Network

National Weather Service Lightning Safety