We have been having some pretty wild weather, but what happened yesterday afternoon was (literally) one for the record books.
Around 3 pm it go so dark in the house we turned on the lights, and commented that the predicted thunderstorms would be pretty solid rain-makers.
By 4:15 pm the clouds were looking REALLY ominious. Then the tornado sirens went off! We could see clouds forming into a funnel from the front porch, to the North and East of the house - with the prevailing winds being also in that direction, that meant it was moving away from us as it was forming.
Turned on the local TV channels to see some really good video shots of things starting to really happen. The live weather cam for one of the two stations in town actually caught the tornado forming and touching down on the local sports arena. Quite a bit of damage to that building - being declared 'destroyed' today - and quite a few other businesses in the general vicinity.
After the funnel dissipated - around 15 minutes, from a rough guess - the rain, hail, thunder and lightning commenced with a fury. We got an official reading of 2.24 inches of rain in less than two hours - that is the record books part.
The last time a tornado touched down in Billings was 1958. There was a large funnel cloud in 1999 - I remember that one well - but it never touched down.
We have made the national news, and there is video from more than one person of the destruction of the arena. One local news/radio celebrity was actually a block from the arena when it touched down, and filmed it as it happened.
No new damage to my roof, just lots of the usual dripping inside over the kitchen sink. Had to empty the temporary collection pans four or five times. Have heard from most of my friends in town - especially those who live in the area affected - and no one had any major damage so far. One person has a partially-flooded basement, but he didn't have power last night so no idea of how bad that might be, yet.
The files are safe and dry, and I never even lost power.
To top it off, there was an explosion and house fire two blocks away early yesterday morning - that would have been the lead news, I am sure, if the tornado had not blown it off the front page of the newspaper!