Chasing a supercell storm in Montana

Joey Biancone
Posted at 4:44 PM, Jun 25, 2024

Last Friday (June 21, 2024) was the most significant severe weather day of the year for Montana so far, and I couldn't pass up on the opportunity to get out of the studio and into the grassy plains of Big Sky Country.

This chase first took me to Fort Benton in Chouteau County. In just a few hours after my arrival, this town of just under 1500 people along the banks of the Missouri was in a direct path of one of the most powerful supercells of the day.

After seeing a few smaller storms pass to the north, a discrete, severe-warned supercell popped up to the northwest, heading right for town.

I moved my position a couple miles to the north to get a good vantage point. As the storm approached, a well-defined shelf cloud became visible.

This storm was warned for hail the size of golf balls and wind in excess of 60 miles per hour.

After this, the beast got a little too close for comfort. I headed back to the southwest toward Greats Falls.

But the thunderstorm outflow beat me. Known as an “outflow boundary” these gusty winds act like a mini cold front and can generate new storms in its wake.

One of these new storms formed right over Highway 87 with penny-sized hail waiting in that cloud of precipitation, or rain shaft.

But after the storm passed, I was treated to a vibrant double rainbow to close out the day.