When I think of Montana, I don't think of tornados.  I think of blizzards, avalanches, and forest fires, and volcanic eruptions, but not tornados.

I grew up right smack in the middle of tornado alley, and have been involved with multiple tornados. In school, you knew it was spring because we would practice drills each year, plus every Wednesday at noon, they would test the local sirens to make sure they were working properly.

Most of the time, it's not a big deal other than a few tree limbs and a trash can found a block or two away, but every once in a while, you will see massive damage and loss of life, and it doesn't take long to figure out that Mother Nature is no joke.

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By now, you've probably heard of the funnel cloud that was spotted over the Mission Valley area.  If you've seen the footage, it no doubt looked like a tornado, however, according to the weather team over at KPAX, funnel clouds don't become tornados until they hit the ground.

So just how common are tornados here in Montana?

According to Ground Zero Shelters, Montana will have an average of two tornados per year and there have been a few notable tornados over the years. Including a couple in Billings, one back in the 1950s, while the other took place on Father's Day in 2010 which resulted in millions of dollars of damage.

victor zastol`skiy

According to Only In Your State, the two deadliest tornados in Montana history took place in June of 1923 and July of 2010, with both storms resulting in two deaths each. If you're ever in the path of a tornado, there are safety precautions that you need to take the CDC says the following steps should be taken.

  • Go to the basement or an inside room without windows on the lowest floor (bathroom, closet, center hallway).
  • If possible, avoid sheltering in any room with windows.
  • For added protection get under something sturdy (a heavy table or workbench). Cover your body with a blanket, sleeping bag, or mattress. Protect your head with anything available.
  • Do not stay in a mobile home.

They also remind you that if you are driving, don't try to outrun a tornado, instead try to get into a building.

A dangerous tornado in tornado alley

And while the chances are low of dealing with a tornado here in Montana, it's still a good practice to make sure that you have a portable radio, batteries, flashlights, and water in case of long periods of time without power.

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