Based on radar, the weather service believes the tornado touched down at 4:41 a.m. in the area of the Loop 202 and Williams Field Road.
Ken Waters, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Phoenix office, confirmed the presence of the tornado, along with two others in the Valley, in a preliminary report he filed Friday.
Weather service meteorologist Sean Benedict said Friday morning’s large “upper level low” weather system, which came with rain and high winds overnight, caused the tornado.
“Anytime you get that system moving close to our area, the dynamics are going to be favorable for that to happen,” he said. “We also had high winds, and that wind profile can lead to severe weather.”
Though a tornado warning was issued for the area of Gilbert, Higley and Apache Junction, Benedict said these particular tornadoes are “quite hard to catch, they pop up so quickly.”
The other confirmed tornadoes in the Valley were in Queen Creek and north Phoenix.
Only other tornado has been recorded in the Gilbert area, according to www.tornadohistoryproject.com, which has data on tornadoes from 1952. That tornado touched down in the area of Recker and Power roads on Feb. 13, 1995.