Jul 27, 2015

Possible tornado damages RVs in Bighorn Mountains

A powerful storm system caused significant damage in the Bighorn Mountains late Monday afternoon.

The National Weather Service received reports of seven damaged camping vehicles as of late Monday night, said Chris Hattings, a weather service meteorologist in Riverton. Though he wasn't certain of the exact location, Hattings described the area as being off of U.S. Highway 14-A near the Big Horn County/Sheridan County line, inside the Bighorn National Forest.

He said the agency is investigating whether a tornado caused the damage or if it was extreme wind.

"It is possible (that it was a tornado), but it's not confirmed," Hattings said, adding, “We'll be doing a survey tomorrow (Tuesday)."

According to the National Weather Service, wind gusts of up to 76 miles an hour were recorded in the southern Bighorn Mountains at 4:40 p.m.

Other high winds buffeted the region Monday afternoon, with gusts of up to 63 miles an hour documented at the Cowley Airport. Spots near Cody and Clark were hit with gusts of up to 56 miles an hour, according to weather service data.

Lightning also struck a barn in the Heart Mountain area, burning it to the ground.

In a post on the National Weather Service's Facebook page, Gail Odeg of Hyattville said there was "big damage" dealt to that area sometime around 4:30 to 4:45 p.m. Odeg said in her post that she lost part of the roof of her shop and her carport, which was "scattered over a very long distance."

"I believe we got hit by a tornado but cannot say for sure, since it did not bother my neighbor across the street," she said, saying another neighbor lost a bunch of trees and most of their shingles.

Hattings said more information would be available on Tuesday.

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