Monday, June 21, 2010

Tornado in Billings

I spent the weekend in Billings with Jan Schoonover, working on a black bear project for the next lesson in our series. We finished up around 3:30 and then I had to do some quick shopping before I headed for home. Once that was done, I went to fill the car up with gas. As I was going into the station, a man sitting outside asked me if I had been watching those clouds. He said he was pretty sure they were going to turn into a tornado. By the time I came back out, the storm sirens were going off.  Most of the clouds were off to the west and I was headed east so I decided to take off. I called Stacy and was telling her about the strange clouds when a funnel cloud dropped out of the sky. It was off to the north of the interstate maybe a half mile. Most of the cars and trucks on the road were pulling over to watch and take pictures. I decided to just keep going. I could see the funnel cloud for a few miles as I was driving, but I couldn't tell that it had touched down. I stayed ahead of the storm most of the way home, but passed through several bouts of heavy rain and lightning. When I got back to Belfield, my daughter was at the gas station and she told me it was a good thing I had left when I did because a tornado had gone through Billings. That's when I first learned that it had caused some major damage. When I got home, Stacy showed me several videos on the computer people had taken of the storm and the wreckage. The Metra park where most of the damage was done isn't all that far from where Jan and Alice live. I just got off the phone with Jan and he said they didn't receive any damage, but did get 2 1/2 inches of rain and some small hail. Thankfully, there were no reports of serious injuries.  You can see more about the storm that went through Billings here.

I'll make another post soon on the black bear project Jan and I worked on while I was there.

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