Backyard video images of a funnel cloud over the West Valley were aired on television stations during a storm Saturday afternoon that included dime-sized hail and heavy rain.
A tornado warning was issued by the National Weather Service in Phoenix at 1:45 p.m. after the storm brewed the right conditions to produce a tornado. The funnel cloud was reported over Surprise and Sun City West.
Meteorologists said a tornado is created only when a funnel cloud touches down, and they could not confirm whether that happened.
"It’s all speculation," said meteorologist Mike Bruce. "It’s very rare to get tornadoes in Arizona. But when we do . . . they usually occur during the winter when bigger storm systems are coming through or in September at the end of the monsoons."
It was the second tornado warning this month. On Jan. 5, a well-defined funnel cloud was watched closely as it passed through the West Valley and Scottsdale.
Also Saturday, hail pelted areas of the Valley including Tempe, Mesa and Apache Junction at 3 p.m.
Chandler and Mesa received about a third of an inch of rain. Apache Junction and Scottsdale received nearly an inch.
Northern Arizona saw significant snowfall, with 12 inches in Ashfork and 5 inches in Flagstaff.
The storm was expected to move east by late Saturday with a slight chance of showers today.
A storm system over Mexico may bring clouds throughout the week, but forecasters do not expect much rain.