Tornado hits West Yellowstone

Many trees are down and structural damage (roofs!). Probably no injuries-

What was to become this violent storm work me up yesterday morning here in SE Idaho. I watched (on the Web) the storm grow as it moved NNE. This morning I got a call from a West Yellowstone resident who was driving around looking at the damage. It seems to extend a bit beyond town. There might have been more than one tornado, and/or several touch downs.  There are some photos online now.

Fast and furious storm rips West Yellowstone. By Gail Schontzler. Bozeman Chronicle.

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8-31-10. Subsequent reports indicate that this was a microburst, but probably with some funnel clouds. At least that’s how I read it. RM





  1. Eve Avatar

    It has now been reported by the National Weather Service that this event was a microburst, not a tornado. I have been staying in West Yellowstone for work most of the summer, but was in the Park on Saturday. We returned to see trees snapped off on the north side of town in a swath about a quarter mile wide, however since they were all laying down pointed in the same direction, we assumed it was a microburst. My husband, who lived in West Yellowstone for 18 years, figured the damage caused to some of the buildings was as much related to West Yellowstone’s history of shoddy construction as to the high winds.

    1. Dusty Roads Avatar
      Dusty Roads

      I think that the National Weather Service should have a look at the videos and photos taken of possibly two twisters that passed through town. And the trees were not all lying in the same direction on the SW end of town where the trees where not only broken off, a number of them were twisted

      I lived in “tornado alley” for a number of years – saw plenty of them then and the subsequent damage and was a disaster relief worker in Greensburg, KS after that town was ripped ~ literally ~ to shreds and this damage looks like a small tornado was here… aside from two sets of eye witnesses who said they saw the tornadoes and photographed them. Interestingly, the guys from NOAA who were looking at the damage this morning thought it was tornado(es). Their camera wasn’t working and they asked me to email them some of mine.

      Also, the path of the destruction followed the normal path of a tornado, from SW to NE, from corner to corner of town.

      The construction of that big motel that lost 90% of the roof may have been shoddy but not all the buildings in town were built that way and they had damage but not that much. Aside from the motel damage, the majority of the loss was trees and a few vehicles that were in the path of flying debris.

      Also, FS employees reported that there is seriously massive tree loss up on Two Top.

  2. Salle Avatar

    Apparently NOAA hasn’t come to a final decision on what it was yet. For the time being they are calling this event “damaging winds” but haven’t ruled out the possibility of a tornado. I understand that those who suffered significant property damage are awaiting a final decision so that they can have the insurance adjusters determine what happens next, financially, for them. Meanwhile, it’s raining quite a bit… into people’s houses that lost roofing.

    Many townfolk are hoping that it probably was a tornado and that it will prompt NOAA and FEMA, or whomever, to fund a doppler system for the area since most regional doppler systems don’t reach over the mountains and thus can’t show what’s happening in the Yellowstone/Hebgen Lake basin.

  3. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    The Bozeman paper has an article, stating the weather service says it was not a tornado.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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