Billings tornado!

On Saturday, June 20, a rare Eastern Montana tornado destroyed the 10,000-seat Rimrock Auto Arena (formerly Metra) in Billings. No one was seriously injured or killed by this F2 tornado which went through a portion of Montana’s largest city.

Growing up in Billings, my memories of Metra include high school graduations (including mine), hockey games, high school basketball tournaments, concerts, rodeos, and various other events.

Youtube has a number of videos:

The large, rectangular building in the background is the Rimrock Auto Arena.

Grace and Peace

APOD: Morning glory clouds

From today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day: Morning Glory Clouds Over Australia.

Credit & License: Mick Petroff

The text description from APOD:

Explanation: What causes these long, strange clouds? No one is sure. A rare type of cloud known as a Morning Glory cloud can stretch 1,000 kilometers long and occur at altitudes up to two kilometers high. Although similar roll clouds have been seen at specific places across the world, the ones over Burketown, Queensland Australia occur predictably every spring. Long, horizontal, circulating tubes of air might form when flowing, moist, cooling air encounters an inversion layer, an atmospheric layer where air temperature atypically increases with height. These tubes and surrounding air could cause dangerous turbulence for airplanes when clear. Morning Glory clouds can reportedly achieve an airspeed of 60 kilometers per hour over a surface with little discernible wind. Pictured above, photographer Mick Petroff photographed some Morning Glory clouds from his airplane near the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia.

Grace and Peace

Hail storm

Sorry I don’t have pictures, but we just had the strongest hailstorm I’ve ever seen. We had enough one-inch hail in a short amount of time to make the ground almost completely white, with some accumulations being several inches deep. I didn’t even know there was a thunderstorm, and all of the sudden it sounded like a freight train outside. Fortunately, that sound was hail instead of a tornado, but Wow! What a sight! We stood on our covered balcony and watched it come down until it stung our feet too much.

Here’s the interactive radar page a few minutes after the storm passed through our area in Lakewood, Colorado.


It was fun to watch, but I’m sure there was damage—broken windows, roof damage, and so on. I hope no one was hurt.

Grace and Peace

P.S. There were still some piles of hail around 24 hours later, despite a high temperature in the upper 70s F (about 25 C). An auto dealer about a mile from our home has a big “Hail Sale” sign up.


We’re having a very rare thundersnow storm (or is it a snunderstorm?). Really cool. It is snowing very hard (close to a whiteout), the wind is blowing, and the the entire sky gets bright when lightning strikes.

From Wikipedia:

One unique aspect of thundersnow is that the snowfall acts as an acoustic suppressor of the thunder. The thunder from a typical thunderstorm can be heard many kilometers away, while the thunder from thundersnow can usually only be heard within a two to three kilometer radius from the lightning. In the United States, March is their peak month of formation, and on average, only three events are reported per year.

Like during scattered thunderstorms in the summer, some parts of Denver are getting socked, and other areas just a few miles away are snow-free.

I’ve been in one other thundersnow storm, in Salt Lake City in the early 1980s.

Grace and Peace

Australia flooding images

While the southern parts of Australia have been burning over the past two months, the northern parts have experienced cool weather and heavy rainfall. The following images are of Normanton, Queensland, which has been cut off by flooding for several weeks.

Credit: NASA, EO-1
Credit: NASA, EO-1
Credit: NASA, EO-1
Credit: NASA, EO-1

The first image is in natural color; the second is enhanced with infrared, which gives a clearer indication of ground that is covered by water.

From NASA’s Earth Observatory: Floods in Australia.

Grace and Peace