Devastating tornado rips through Montana
While the locals and dwellers of the community of Billings Montana were busy and preoccupied with the celebrations and festivities of Father’s Day on Sunday evening, they had absolutely no idea that Mother Nature was in no mood to support their notion of Father’s Day and, in turn, knocked them hard with one of the strongest tornados that has been witnessed by the state of Montana in the recent past.
A tornado that ripped the roof off a sports arena also tore through businesses, damaging a bar and a casino and leaving just the walls of an auto glass shop standing.
The tornado struck at about 4:30 p.m. as a big storm system with golf ball-sized hail passed through the area, National Weather Service meteorologist Keith Meier said.
After running through Main Street in the city’s northeast area, the twister quickly moved toward the 10,000-seat Rimrock Auto Arena about a half-mile away, where it hovered for about 15 minutes, snapping trees and telephone poles.
“It would touch down and suck back up and touch down and touch down again,” said Trooper Toman Baukema of the Montana Highway Patrol, who saw the tornado from a patrol station about a mile away.
Big pieces of metal could be seen hanging from power lines near the arena, and tangles of insulation and metal debris were strewn for hundreds of yards in the surrounding industrial area.
There were several employees inside the arena when it struck, but there were no reports of injuries, Baukema said.
The massive MetraPark amusement compound lost its roof to the strong winds. The winds not only took off the roof but also sent wreckage and timber flying in all directions. However, the good part to this incident was the fact that the MetraPark facility was not occupied by people at the time.
According to Mr. Brian Schweitzer–the Governor who looks over the region of Billings Montana– the total of the damage that has been caused to the MetraPark facility falls anywhere from a low of eight million to a high of fifteen million US dollars. Who knows where the next of the remaining two elements–fire and earth–will strike.
There were no reported deaths and no one has been reported missing, Billings police Sgt. Kevin Iffland said last Sunday.