Clean-up of tornado damage continues in NE Montana

Posted at 9:42 AM, Jul 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-12 11:42:54-04

GREAT FALLS – Clean-up continues in northeastern Montana after a tornado and a macroburst caused significant damage in many areas, including the town of Plentywood.

The NWS said in a Facebook post: "We still need to review aerial photos and radar data, but there was a Tornado on the south end of Plentywood, damage path is not very long though. Initial estimate is an EF-1 rating."

EF-1 is a reference to the Enhanced Fujita scale that is used to classify tornadoes; an EF-1 is the lowest level of tornado.

The NWS says that their preliminary investigation indicates a macroburst hit the Plentywood Airport with speeds of more than 110 miles per hour; eight hangers were destroyed, and at least six others sustained moderate-major damage. Ten small general aviation aircraft were damaged or destroyed.

The NWS defines a microburst as: "A convective downdraft with an affected outflow area of at least 2½ miles wide and peak winds lasting between 5 and 20 minutes. Intense macrobursts may cause tornado-force damage of up to F3 intensity."

Damage in the area includes trees snapped and uprooted, roofs torn off, and shingles/tar paper torn off of buildings and homes.

Sheridan County Sheriff Heidi Williamson shared her appreciation in a Facebook post; it reads, in part:

Thank you to everyone who stepped up and helped our community in the aftermath of the storms. Our community really pulled together to help each other out during a crisis. The teamwork and generosity shown here was awesome! Northeast Montana is full of the toughest and most generous people! The list of people who need thanked is very long but I’ll try: Sheridan County Deputies, Dispatch, Fire, EMS, MDU, Nemont, U.S. Border Patrol, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, Oasis, Sheridan County Road and Weed Departments, Commissioners, City of Plentywood, City of Culbertson, MT DOT, Glasgow NOAA, Cromwells, Tandes, Ruebs, Red Cross and everyone who volunteered at the Civic Center, everyone who helped their neighbors. Sorry if I missed you. Dispatch did an amazing job keeping everything in order even though we only had one radio channel to talk on.

Thank you to Roosevelt County Sheriff Jason Frederick who staged in the southern part of the county on Monday with a couple deputies and sent a deputy up yesterday to assist us. I also had several sheriffs from across the state offering assistance to us, thank you Sheriff Dutton, Sheriff Gootkin, Sheriff Burdick, Sheriff Whitt, Sheriff Hamilton, Sheriff Lewis, Sheriff Lammers. Congressman Greg Gianforte and Senator Steve Daines reached out to us as well.

I am extremely proud of my staff for stepping up and putting in long hours to make sure our county was safe. Thank you Cathy, Patrick, Chris, Jon, Caleb, Scott, and Joel, your service and dedication to this office and our mission is incredible!!!

There were no serious injuries in Montana attributed to the storms.

Sadly, the same storm system claimed the life of a 7-day-old baby when a tornado hit an RV park south of Watford City in North Dakota several hours later. The storm injured 28 other people, nine of them critically, in North Dakota. The National Weather Service reports the tornado in North Dakota was rated as an EF-2, with winds of more than 120 miles per hour when it struck near Watford City at about 1 a.m. on Tuesday.


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