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Flood

A flash flood produced several-foot-deep pools Friday in Billings.

Flash floodwaters reached waist-deep in places on the West End Friday after an afternoon thunderstorm rolling through Billings pounded the city with hail and rain for about half an hour.

A severe thunderstorm brought heavy rain and hail to town around 4:30 p.m. after which National Weather Service in Billings issued a flash flood warning for Billings and Lockwood until 7:30 p.m.

Over the course of 30 minutes the storm dropped a third of an inch of rain at the Billings Logan International Airport and 1.11 inches of rain at the NWS Billings office on the West End. 

The stronger portion of the storm tracked over the West End of town, where water and hail accumulated in parking lots and low-lying areas from south of the East Rosebud Fly and Tackle shop off South 24th Street West down to Jake's Bar and Grill. 

"Basically a lake and a couple vehicles stalled in it," said Billings Fire Department Battalion Chief Ed Regele of the flooding near the restaurant. "Other vehicles were trying to still go through it and it was just kind of a mess there for awhile." 

The Billings Police Department blocked off lanes at Overland Avenue and nearby Expedition Drive while city workers worked to drain water. 

Hail on the West End measured anywhere from the size of a quarter to a golf ball, according to Sean Palmquist, a meteorologist with NWS Billings. 

The flash flood warning, issued at about 4:35 p.m., urged people to move to higher ground and avoid walking or driving through floodwaters.

Friday afternoon's rainfall was preceded by a severe thunderstorm warning from NWS Billings for Billings and Lockwood issued just before 4:30 p.m. The warning stated the thunderstorm could produce winds up to 70 miles per hour and hail the size of ping pong balls. 

An earlier warning issued shortly after 4 p.m. for Billings, Lockwood and Acton had estimated hail could be up to a quarter in size. 

Hail in the downtown area appeared to be pea-sized and mixed in with heavy rainfall during part of the storm. 

A severe thunderstorm warning was also in effect for Columbus, Joliet and Fromberg until 5:30 p.m.. South and east of Columbus that storm produced 2 inch hail. In Sheridan, Wyoming, quarter-sized hail was accompanied by wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour that downed trees, Palmquist said. 

NorthWestern Energy's online outage map showed just one reported outage in Billings effecting an estimated 1 to 50 customers as of 4:45 p.m. That reported outage was near Rimrock Road and Rehburg Lane. 

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Night Reporter

General assignment reporter for The Billings Gazette.