Yes, another blog about the weather, but the adventure was just too good to pass. We’ve been on a hunt for a new horse for my daughter to show in 4-H competition. Our geldings (one is a rental owned by my brother) are getting up in age and not that “showy” any more. They’ll go up and down the mountain like a Yamaha Grizzly ATV, but they need some Aspercreme from time to time.
This “hunt” has been going on for months with more dead ends than ideas on how to stop the gusher in the Gulf. We finally found the right match and headed to Montana early Saturday morning to pick up our prospective ribbon getter and future mountain climbing horse. The weather forecast was for severe storms later in the day so we left early, purchased the horse and blazed a trail for home.
At approximately 4:30 pm mountain time we approached Billings, Montana. A huge storm raged north of town and I could see another building to the south. Just as we hit town the two storms came together, at least that’s how I saw it. I had my portable weather radio along and from the forecast it appeared we’d squeak by without the chance for hail or high winds. Then I looked out the window.
Right before my eyes a tornado started to build over the Yellowstone River and spiral upwards. It was directly adjacent to the interstate highway and spewing water. I pointed it out to the family and that’s when I could feel the horse trailer beginning to sway from the wind. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I knew it was time to click the shoes and put some distance between me and the developing Billings Gazette headline.
I pushed the Dodge diesel a notch faster just as the entire sky began swirling like a powerful toilet flush complete with the pretty blue dye. I’ve seen lots of severe storms as a prairie native, but I’ve never seen a sky turn and boil like it did yesterday as the funnel developed over the city.
We made it to safety, but hit another storm within a mile of home. Luckily it didn’t contain hail, just torrential rain whipped by gusty winds. After putting Astro away for the night (yes, Astro from the Jetsons) I learned later that night nobody had been killed or severely injured in the Billings tornado. Interestingly it was the strongest tornado to hit the region since 1958.
Finding the perfect horse for our daughter was difficult enough, little did we know getting him home was going to be the most unforgettable chapter of the task. Really now, can you blame me for swaying from hunting to relate such an exciting day.
Maybe we should re-name him Toto?