Tornado Kills 2 in NE Montana

Aaron Flint posted on July 27, 2010 13:30 :: 2256 Views

Another tornado struck down in Montana, this time in Montana’s Northeast corner, and with much more tragic consequences.  This, according to Billings TV station KTVQ and the Associated Press.

Robert “Robby” Richardson, 10, and Steven D. Smith, 46, died of blunt-force head and chest injuries at the farm 13 miles west of Reserve on Monday night, Sheridan County Coroner David Fulkerson said.
Barbara Smith, 71, was taken from the basement of her home to a hospital in Plentywood and was later transported to Billings. The extent of her injuries were not immediately known.

Sheridan County Coroner David Fulkerson, in an interview with KBLL’s Jay Scott, had this to say:

Click to Listen

Tanja Fransen with the National Weather Service in Glasgow told the Billings Gazette that the storm was one of the strongest and deadliest in state history. 

Only three other F3 storms have been recorded in the state, Fransen said. Before that, a July 5, 1988, tornado in Choteau County injured two people, while a June 19, 1952, tornado in Wibaux County killed one and injured two and a June 7, 1946, twister killed one and injured one.

Here’s a press release from Sheridan County detailing the chain of events:

At approximately 7:15 PM (MDT) Monday, July 26, 2010 an EF3 tornado struck the Smith Ranch at 1313 Rock Springs Road, about 11 miles northwest of Medicine Lake, Montana. 

The ranch buildings were demolished by the storm, with three members of the Smith family in the main home when the tornado hit. A community-wide response of area fire and EMS agencies, county authorities including the Sheriffs Department, Disaster and Emergency Services, US Border Patrol, and a large number of family members and neighbors mounted a hazardous and complex search operation during the night.  Sheridan County Sheriff Pat Ulrickson stated that, “I’ve never seen anything like this before.  The destruction is just indescribable.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the Smith family today.”

Barbara Smith, 71 was transported from the basement of her demolished home to Sheridan Memorial Hospital in Plentywood by ambulance, and later evacuated to Billings.  Her grandson, Robert (“Robby”) Richardson, 10 and her nephew, Steven D. Smith, 46, were found dead at the scene.  Robby was also in the basement of the home; Steve was found about 200 feet away.  Coroner David Fulkerson attributed their deaths to blunt force head and chest injuries; they died very quickly.

No other injuries attributable to the storm have been reported, although a few minor injuries were sustained by responders.

On Tuesday, July 27, 2010 officials from Sheridan County, Montana Disaster and Emergency Services and the National Weather Service in Glasgow conducted a damage assessment.  In addition to the significant property damage, including a two story house that was completely destroyed, a single wide trailer blown away, numerous outbuildings and ranch vehicles destroyed, there were also livestock and crop losses reported.  Approximately 20 cows were killed or seriously injured.  Another farm house, that was not lived in, was pushed off its foundation and the barn flattened.  Sheridan Electric Cooperative was repairing damage to approximately 6 miles of down power poles and lines.  They had restored power to all but a handful of customers by early morning.

The strong tornadic winds were estimated at the Smith Ranch to be approximately 150 miles per hour and it was rated an EF3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale by National Weather Service meteorologists.  The tornado also ripped the deck off a county bridge over Wolf Creek on Three Corner Road.  The road is temporarily closed while the Sheridan County Road Department constructs a bypass.

John Perish

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 10:25 PM

Dear Donna,

You obviously don’t grasp the breathtaking stupidity in your statement.
Does the article say the persons where standing in the front yard waving at the tornado as it blew in?

Where you standing on a hillside when this storm blew in, did you see the signs or watch the event?

As for the warning systems in this part of the US, there is only one warning system in place, the Weather band on FM and AM. And it works rather well.

Call everyone?

There are only one or two dispatchers on at any one time, and you want them to call 1500 people in a county about a tornado?
What are they going to tell them?
Repeat the NOAA warning that came across the weather band?
Oh, and the dispatchers are going to have to answer 911 calls too.

I know, you must stand in the front yard looking for the tornado that was foretold in the warning just broadcast across the radio. The rest of us will seek shelter in the basement, knowing that it doesn’t always afford the shelter the weather service says it does.

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