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Severe weather pounded central and Eastern Montana again Thursday, sending a 15-foot high wall of water down Wildcat Creek in Garfield County.

Severe storm and flash flood warnings were broadcast throughout southeastern Montana counties from 11 a.m. well into the evening.

Half-dollar sized hail was reported in Shawmut about 11:10 a.m. The storm moved east covering the ground around Lavina with dime-sized hail by 12:40 p.m., said Ty Judd an intern at the Billings National Weather Service office.

“The people in Shawmut said it sounded like a big, roaring train with that hail falling,” Judd said.

Doppler radar estimated up to 3 inches of rain in the Ryegate area, but the NWS staff was not able to confirm that report Thursday afternoon, Judd said. Many of the residents whom NWS calls for information were not home when the staff was conducting telephone surveys, he said.

The storm picked up power and by 3:35 p.m. was hurling baseball-sized hail, backed by 50 mph winds, northwest of Hysham.

The storm intensified by the time it hit Hathaway. Judd said people in Hathaway, which is about 20 miles southwest of Miles City, reported tennis-ball sized hail and 70 mph to 80 mph winds.

“There were broken windows and shingles taken off,” Judd said.

A NWS survey team was caught in the storm two miles east of Rosebud. The crew stopped at a rest area but could not get cover for their vehicle. Golf-ball sized hail driven by 50 mph winds cracked the windshield and dented the NWS car, Judd said.

Garfield and Prairie counties were also hit in the afternoon. Glasgow NWS Meteorologist Victor Proton said that southern Garfield County was drenched at about 3:30 p.m.

The worst weather was about 20 miles west of Cohagen, south of Jordan, where hail one-inch in diameter fell for 15 minutes and was piled a foot deep in places. Wildcat Creek, a dry creekbed in the area, had 15 feet of water and was “well out of its banks,” Proton said.

Proton said the area is “rough, rugged and rural, with not a whole lot of ranchers,” so property damage was minimal.

“Southern Garfield County has been hit over and over and over again in the last month,” Proton said. “We have an unconfirmed report, not from a weather spotter, who says he got close to 19 inches of rain this summer.

“Any little bit of rain in Garfield County is causing problems — there have been several flash floods in the last week. It just can’t hold in any more rain. The dray washes and coulees are no longer dry, they are pushing water.”

By 6:55 p.m. the storm was centered in the Miles City area, where high winds and rain were reported.

A Miles City police officer said the wind knocked down a tree that took a street light and power line with it and the underpass filled with water, but other than “lots of water,” the damage was light.Two tornadoes hit Baker areaThe National Weather Service on Thursday confirmed that two tornadoes touched down north of Baker Wednesday evening.


Warning Coordination Meteorologist Steve Kuhl traveled to Baker Thursday to survey the damage. The NWS issued two tornado warnings for the area Wednesday and Kuhl’s trip confirmed the tornadoes.

The first tornado touched down 13 miles North of Baker about 7:20 p.m. That tornado was about 200 yards wide and stayed on the ground about 15 minutes, covering two miles. The tornado struck in open range and caused no property damage, Kuhl said. The tornado was rated an F2, with winds from 113 mph to 157 mph.

The second tornado touched down eight miles northeast of Baker about 7:50 p.m. It was 100 yards wide and during its five minutes on the ground covered about three-fourths of a mile. The tornado was also in open country and caused no property damage. The tornado was smaller in velocity and rated an F1 with winds between 73 mph and 112 mph.

The Glasgow NWS office did not have enough staff to send surveyors to Wibaux County, which was pounded by large hail from the same system that produced the tornadoes. Meteorologist Victor Proton said that once a survey crew heads out it will probably take a few days to record all the data from recent storms in Wibaux, Garfield and Prairie counties.

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