Missoula storm drops quarter-size hail, half-inch of rain in 20 minute burst

By Martin Kidston

A powerful thunderstorm swept through central and south Missoula on Thursday night, dropping quarter-sized hail in some areas and damaging trees.

The storm, which hit at roughly 5:45 p.m., also delivered one-half-inch of rain in 20 minutes, according to one measurement taken by a local meteorologist.

“We did get a report of quarter-sized hail,” said Trent Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Missoula. “We don’t have a measurement on winds, but we’re estimating them at 40 to 50 miles per hour.”

The rain overwhelmed storm drains in some parts of the city, leaving large pools of water. The sustained wind and rain, coupled with large hail, also damaged trees in sections of the city.

One resident report a tree had blown onto his home, Smith said.

Chris Boza, the city’s urban forester, said the storm also damaged several boulevard trees. Large branches had toppled in certain neighborhoods.

Boza said the damage from Thursday night’s storm wasn’t as extensive as that resulting from a similar storm last August, which caused extensive tree damage throughout the city.

Smith said the storm intensified over Missoula.

“It had a good amount of low-level moisture and we had that strong front from the north,” said Smith. “The winds from the surface allowed it to become fairly strong and intensify, and it did so right over Missoula.”

EKO Compost is accepting storm debris at no charge this Saturday and Sunday at 1125 Clark Fork Lane. The city is not establishing a debris site, though residents can report downed branches from trees in the right of way at parksrec@ci.missoula.mt.us.

For more information, call Parks and Recreation at 721-7275.