Storm Brings Golf-Ball Sized Hail, Broken Windows

Aug 12, 2019

A short storm Sunday night caused lasting damage for some people in Billings.

The storm came with wind gusts up to 74 miles per hour, heavy rain, and hail the size of golf balls.

The wind blew branches off trees and flooded streets. Hail broke house and car windows.

The damage drove many car-owners to repair shops, like MasterLube Glass Doctor on Broadwater Ave.

In the garage Monday afternoon, a service technician replaced a front windshield and drilled the siding back in place.

Manager Shelbi Godfrey said it’s been a busy day for auto glass repair.

“So far this morning I’ve already taken 143 phone calls,” she said.

It’ll be a busy week. Godfrey says they’re all booked up until next Thursday.

Meanwhile, people spent Monday cleaning leaves and debris from yards and driveways, and the city of Billings assessed damage to public property.

Public Works Director David Mumford said they’ll pick up downed trees and clean up sewers, and clearing leaves and other debris will take a couple of weeks.

He said that’ll put some other city projects on hold.

“We can’t paint crosswalks and things until the leaves are up, so some things will be delayed, and then we’ll get to them,” he said.

The National Weather Service reported the worst damage on Sunday in Shepherd, Worden and Huntley — north of Billings — where hail up to 2 inches in diameter fell.

Meteorologist Julie Arthur said while Billings saw hail similar in size in May 2016, it’s unique to get a storm like this in August.

“Usually we’re drying out and the grasses are dried out and we’re seeing an increase in fires around the area,” she said. “But we’ve had a lot more moisture this spring, into the summertime and a lot more rainfall. So that's helped us keep our thunderstorm season going longer than it normally does.”

She said the storm lasted about an hour.

State Auditor Matt Rosendale advises residents to document damage before beginning clean up or repairs and file insurance claims where possible.

The Auditor’s Office said Montanans have been targeted by out-of-state contractors in recent years and that homeowners should be wary of unsolicited offers, high-pressure sales tactics and incomplete contracts.

This weekend’s rain helped crews make progress on fires in western Montana. The North Hills Fire north of Helena was 100 percent contained, while the Horsefly Fire near Lincoln was hit with about an inch of rain and was 50 percent contained.

Crews created a fire line around 20 percent of the Beeskove Fire north of Missoula after about a half-inch of rain fell over the weekend. Firefighters were removed from the lines by mid-afternoon Sunday due to the incoming storms.