(Above: Podcast about the day’s craziness.)

That’s right– a tornado touched down in Billings, MT today. It ripped through the Metra’s roof and destroyed several buildings and business in the Heights. During the tornado madness, a torrential downpour instantly flooded streets throughout Billings. Downtown Billings and the Heights are still reeling from the damage caused by the severe weather of this afternoon, with power outages affecting 1,100 houses in the Heights.

During all of this tornado madness, I was working at Sears. Sears is located near Downtown Billings, but relatively far away from the Metra where the tornado touched down in the Heights. When the tornado sirens went off, the managers at my store made an announcement that the building was being evacuated. Everyone in the store was ushered over to the Automotive building next to the main store. We sat in the tire showroom for a few minutes, and then we went down to the basement. I followed my fellow employees and a couple of scared customers into a break room in the basement with a TV that was on. We frantically searched for a local news station with weather updates, but most of the TV stations were down, and it was too recent for the tornado to make national news. Before we went down into the basement, I got on Facebook on my phone, made a quick wall post that my store was being evacuated, and then I looked to see what other people were posting. Basically every wall post made in the few minutes before mine said the same thing: “TORNADO! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!”

According to the Associated Press, the last time a tornado of this magnitude hit the Billings-area was in 1958.

It was pretty intense in the basement break room. Everyone was talking nervously about the tornado and the damage it could cause. During the midst of this nervous chatter, I discovered that two of my co-workers have the same phone as me. Crazy.

Here’s a video of the tornado from Q2 News. Footage recorded by “Major” Dan Miller.

As I mentioned in the podcast, my parents and I went by the Metra briefly. I was able to take one quick picture when we drove by. Here’s the pic:

As you can see, the roof is considerably damaged. There’s debris everywhere along Main Street from the roof’s insulation.

A few hours later, the sun came out and the skies were blue. The old adage, “If you don’t like the weather in Montana, just wait five minutes,” was definitely true today. 🙂 Below is a few pictures I took just outside my house:

Sunny skies are here again.

That’s all for today folks. As always, thank you for reading this blog and make sure to leave your comments and criticisms below. 🙂

– Will