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Gazette Staff

Two storms developed almost directly above Billings Friday evening, hitting the city with heavy rain and up to inch-sized hail.

The first storm was concentrated east of Billings Logan International Airport from about 6:50 p.m. to 7:10 p.m., said Don Moore, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Billings.

The storm’s hail load intensified in about 10-minute increments, he said, starting with dime-sized pellets and increasing to nickel- and inch-sized. The hail was centered in the Alkali Creek and Heights areas, Moore said.

The storm moved toward Hardin, where it dumped enough rain to leave water standing up to three-feet deep, according to NWS reports. By 11 p.m. the storm had moved toward Lame Deer and was still active, Moore said.

The second storm blossomed over Billings after 9 p.m. and by 9:50 p.m. it was pounding the West End and downtown with “rock-hard” inch-sized hail, Moore said. The hail in the first storm was not as compact as the ice pellets that the later storm carried, he said.

The second storm also produced intense thunder and lightning. Moore said the display indicated how rapidly the storms developed.

Earlier in the evening Rapelje was hit by a storm similar to the ones that doused Billings, Moore said. There was a cluster of storms and one became dominant and hit the Ryegate area.

The storm hurled baseball-sized hail about five miles southwest of Ryegate, Moore said. The NWS and Golden Valley Sheriff’s Department received reports of car windows and a home being damaged by the hail. Moore said the area is not very populated, which reduced the property damage.

Storms were continuing to build late in the evening, Moore said, which is not the normal pattern for this area. Generally, afternoon convection builds the storms which “go east and die,” Moore said.

“But this year they are hanging on a little longer than usual and we deal with them all the way through the night,” Moore said.

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