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Storm System Produces 10,000 Lightning Strikes – 54 Mile Per Hour Winds [AUDIO]

Tree Down
Photo by Peter Christian

A massive line of thunderstorms ripped through eastern Idaho and west-central Montana Friday night, producing lightning strikes and sustained high winds that snapped trees and knocked out power to thousands in the area for several hours.

Bob Nestor with the National Weather Service said the strongest winds in Missoula were measured at over 50 miles per hour.

“A line of storms that developed south in Lemhi County, Idaho and slowly moved north through the Bitterroot and into Missoula, where we recorded a wind gust of 54 miles per hour at 7:20 in the evening,” Nestor said.”One of our weather stations reported over an inch of rain in 35 minutes, while others reported no rain at all.”

Nestor said lightning played a huge role in last night’s storms.

“One of the more impressive facts is that from Spokane and stretching all the way through the Butte-Deer Lodge area, we recorded over 10,000 lightning strikes,” Nestor said. “Over near Boise, Idaho, at least four large fires were started by this lightning storm, but none up here in western Montana, as of yet.”

Nestor said there are more storms on the way, leading to a Red Flag Warning for the area,

“This morning we issued a Red Flag Warning for much of central Idaho and also including west central Montana from Missoula southward into Butte and southwest Montana,” Nestor said. “The Red Flag Warning is for thunderstorms with lightning and very gusty winds combined with dry fuels, combined with local heavy rain, and that will continue through 9:00 p.m. this evening.”

Meteorologist Bob Nestor

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