21 June 2010

After the Storm

As noted yesterday, a tornado hit my hometown of Billings, Montana Sunday evening.  A truly rare occurrence, it was the first tornado to touch down inside the city since 1958.

Classified as an F-2, the tornado had winds around 135 miles per hour.  

Touching down at MetraPark - our local sports/entertainment complex - the storm ripped through Montana's largest event center.  The venue holds 12,000 people and was luckily empty at the time of the storm.  

After hitting the Metra, the storm crossed a creek and damaged several businesses.  At McDonald's twenty employees and customers sought refuge in the walk-in cooler after watching the cloud come toward them.  It narrowly avoided the fast food restaurant, ironically moving down the drive thru, before flattening several buildings across the street.

After the storm, the sun was out within twenty minutes as if it had never happened.  The sun couldn't compete with the damage.  Once were buildings stood only rubble remained.

But the MetraPark Rimrock Auto Arena was hit the hardest.  Just the night before nearly 4,000 people attended an arena football game under a roof that no longer exists.  I saw Disney on ice there when I was four and Christina Aguilera when I was twelve.  I saw my first circus there and amazed people by knowing the difference between a dromedary and a camel as a toddler.

This is where I graduated high school.  Our class song was "I Hope You Dance."  I grew up in this arena.  I saw state championships won and world class bull rides.  I watched my grandpa buy cattle and won blue ribbons for my art.  It's weird how fast things can change.  And then the sun comes out.


  1. Wow those are some dramatic photos! Incredible with the dark cloud. I love that song I Hope You Dance!

  2. The memories remain. And it's remarkable what the human spirit can rebuild. Stay strong! We all hoping for a quick recovery.

  3. That looks terrifying. Tornados are sooo scary! I'm glad you are ok but that sucks about your town and the damage.

  4. I live in an area frequented by tornados, (We were actually in national news a few years back) so I understand the emotions that go along with all the photos. The human ability to move forward in the face of such destruction is truly amazing. Buildings will be re-built (sometimes even better than before) cars and belongings will be replaced. Keepsakes and mementos will be found and lovingly restored. Even pets will find their way home either on their own or with the help of strangers with open hearts. One day the pictures of the distruction will be a record of the towns' past...something to show future generations and say, "I remember when..."

  5. I'm sure the tornado took away a few burgers as it made its way thru d MacD drive-thru :)

  6. Wow that is crazy I am glad you are okay and not too many people are hurt. I hope you dance was our grad song too, and I sang it at our prom, thanks for the memories,

  7. That's awful, I hope you and your loved ones are all okay. I live in Karachi, Pakistan, and Cyclone Phet was supposed to hit us about 2 weeks back. Thankfully, it got deflected towards Oman and we were spared. Stay strong!

  8. How scary.

    I happened upon your blog recently, I totally love it.


  9. I live about 2 hours south of Billings and we had a horrible hail storm at the same time the Metra was being destroyed. My son was freaked that we were going to get a tornado as well. I was napping and didn't really care.

    I hope they don't demollish the Metra. I have fond memories of it as well.

  10. Oh and I LOVED the photographs :)



  11. Oh wow! How crazy. I hope you get through it okay :/



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