Winds of 70 mph whipped baseball-sized hail at a Montana lake. Thousands of birds fell victim.
By Matthew CappucciAugust 21
Thousands of birds were killed on Aug. 11 when a destructive hailstorm lashed regions northwest of Billings, Mont. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the supercell thunderstorm “killed and maimed more than 11,000 waterfowl and wetland birds at the Big Lake Wildlife Management Area west of Molt.” Molt is about 20 miles west-northwest of Billings, Montana’s largest city.
According to the news release, biologist Justin Paugh estimates that about a quarter of the birds at the lake were injured or killed. About 5 percent of surviving ducks and a third of living pelicans/cormorants “show some sign of injury or impaired movement.”
The Storm Prediction Center had already been calling for potential large, damaging hail as early as 12 hours in advance, outlining Billings in a narrow corridor of “significant severe” potential. Their morning bulletin advised that volatile atmospheric parameters would “favor supercells initially with large hail and possibly a couple of tornadoes.” By late afternoon, storms had developed, quickly becoming severe. Some storms towered nearly 10 miles high.
As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.