Severe Summer Weather

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When most Montanans think about summertime hazards, wildland and rangeland fires immediately come to mind. While it is important to prepare your family, home, and property for wildland fires, Montanans must remember to also prepare for severe summer weather such as damaging thunderstorms, wind, hail, and lightening.

On June 20, 2012 former Governor Brian Schweitzer declared a state of emergency after the largest tornado to hit the city of Billings in more than 50 years peeled the roof off MetraPark. The tornado had estimated wind speeds of 111 to 135 mph and caused millions of dollars in damage.

Although according to the 2013 update to the Montana Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan, Montana has an average of six tornadoes annually spread over a large geographic area; other severe summer weather events are common. Between 1952 and 2012 severe summer weather caused an estimated $77.8 million in property and crop damage.

As Montanans hit the road this summer and head to the lakes, rivers, and mountains to recreate, it is important to know how to be prepared for severe summer weather. Here are some tips from our friends at

1) Build an Emergency Supply Kit.

2) Make a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another and how you will get back together.

3) Continually monitor the media- be aware of storms that may impact your area.

4) Ensure your home is ready- elevate items in the basement which could be flooded. Bring indoors items such as children’s toys, patio furniture, garbage cans, etc. which could be blown around and damaged. Remove dead and rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage.

5) Know how to shut off utilities, including power, water, and gas to you home.

6) Find out what types of event and damages are covered by your insurance policy. Keep insurance policies, important documents and other valuables in a safe and secure location.

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