Wolf Point Herald

Tornado North Of Wolf Point Validates June’s “Summer Fury” Disaster Drill

During the afternoon of Monday, July 15, a severe thunderstorm that originated in Valley County moved into Roosevelt County and produced at least one tornado that traveled a considerable distance across the area showing that the “Summer Fury” disaster drill June 13 was indeed timely.

“The ‘Summer Fury’ disaster drill provided an important learning experience for emergency responders in Wolf Point as evidenced by the tornado north of Wolf Point July 15,” said Wolf Point Police Department Lieutenant Brian Erwin.

In their summary report, the National Weather Service indicated that numerous reports said the tornado dissipated and reformed at least twice and, given the rural nature of the area and not being able to readily see where that may have occurred, the report issued by the NWS treated this severe thunderstorm and tornado as one event.

The tornado was rated an EF-2 with a estimated maximum wind speed of 120 miles per hour, based on damage to power poles.

The estimated start time of tornado was 3:45 p.m. and its end time was 4:56 p.m. It left a 25-mile long path up to a quarter mile wide based on eyewitness reports and photographs.

A total of 10 severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings were issued by the NWS, nine of which verified with an average lead time of 23.6 minutes.

Reports started coming into Fort Peck Tribes/Roosevelt County Dispatch Center of a tornado at 3:45 p.m.

There was little but grassland in the origination location 19 miles north of Wolf Point.

The first damage that was found from the tornado was on County Road 250, 19 miles NNE of Wolf Point at approximately 3:52 p.m. A dead tree had limbs broken off and was partially debarked. The next damage that was accessible was on Montana Hwy. 13 17 miles north of U.S. Hwy. 2. A power line had a metal cross member bracket broken.

“As we continued on the survey, we traveled east down County Road 2042. A vacant residence 7.5 miles east of Montana Hwy. 13 had a shed blown over that was not anchored onto any foundation,” said the NWS summary report. “There was some debris from a dump site blown around and there were several large broken tree branches as well. As the road turned south for a short while, at 8.5 miles east of Hwy. 13, two signs were damaged. Radar indicates the tornado was at this location between 4:30 and 4:35 p.m. One sign was bent but still in place, another was totally sheared where the metal post met the ground. At this point, we could also observe large round hay bales that had been blown into tree rows. These hay bales weigh about 1,200 to 1,500 pounds each. Winds at the first residence were estimated at 70 mph. Winds at the signs and hay bales are estimated to be at 110 mph.”

“The farm with the most damage was 10 miles east of Hwy. 13 where it would have hit around 4:39 p.m. At this location, we observed a calving barn [marked as 1 in above photo] that had the west side of the roof blown off, and the walls caved in. The structural supports were still in the ground, but the 4x4s holding up the walls had been sheared about 4 feet off of the ground. A storage building [2] next to a larger Quonset was actually overturned back to the west, and thrown into a larger Quonset [3], totaling it out. The materials landed west of the large Quonset [2a]. A third Quonset that also had metal roofing that was peeled off of the building. [4] The storage building had heavy, long concrete foundation pieces that were pulled out of the ground and tossed onto equipment,” reported the NWS.

“Winds at this location are estimated to have been 115 to 120 mph. There were some power poles southeast of this farm that were damaged as well and the wind estimates for that are 120 mph.

“The tornado then moved across the Poplar River valley. At this point, some photos show it off the ground, but the circulation on the ground may have continued while the visible condensation funnel had to lower itself to the valley bottom.

“At 4:47 pm, a farm right on County Road 2042 had the roof peeled off of a well-constructed metal building by rear flank downdraft winds. Wind speeds at this location were estimated at 110 mph.

“From that farm, they could see the tornado two miles south and 13.5 miles east of Montana Hwy. 13. At this location, nine power poles were snapped and irrigation pipes were lifted and moved westward. A large cottonwood tree was also uprooted. Wind speeds were estimated at 100 mph.

“As the storm moved east, it dissipated about 19 miles east of Montana Hwy. 13, or four miles west of the Brockton Road, aka County Road 1041. Photo and reports from those on the ground indicate that the tornado dissipated by 4:56 p.m.”