SHERIDAN — Nearly 1.5 inches of rain fell in 25 minutes in Tuesday’s gusher of a thunderstorm, according to the National Weather Service out of Billings.
Meteorologist Brian Tesar said at points during the storm, 12/100ths of an inch fell in under one minute at the automated station at Sheridan County Airport.
Marble-sized hail accompanied the storm, and Tesar received reports of severe street flooding.
The NWS also received an unconfirmed report of a funnel cloud between Big Goose and the Wyoming Girls School but said there was nothing on the radar that indicated a tornado.
A tornado did touch down two miles east of Buffalo in a storm that caused wind damage — with 80 mph wind gusts — in Sheridan County near Leiter.
Heavy rainfall started about 5 p.m., and rain continued to fall until about 6:15 p.m., but the majority — 1.48 inches — fell in under half an hour, Tesar said.
NWS has placed Sheridan County under a flash flood watch until midnight Wednesday and continues to issue a hazardous weather outlook.
“We’re still looking at the potential for heavy rainfall rates today with any storms that develop,” Tesar said. “It won’t be quite what it was yesterday, and the storms won’t be quite as numerous today as they were yesterday in coverage, but the potential is there.”
Thursday could include another period of severe weather, though it’s more likely north of Sheridan County, Tesar said.
Friday and into the weekend is expected to dry out some, with temperatures reaching into the upper 70s.
According to National Weather Service U.S. Geological Survey stream gauges, Big Goose Creek was at 5.02 feet as of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. At 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Big Goose Creek had risen .55 feet to 5.57 feet, but flood stage was still a ways off at 7.5 feet.
The Tongue River near Dayton was at 3.29 feet Tuesday and rose to 3.3 feet after the storm. Flood stage there is six feet.
Pete Husman, county road and bridge program manager, said county crews were aware of the potential for hazardous weather but were not worried about flooding.
“We’re still well below flood stage,” Husman said.
Big Goose Creek is the only creek that could prove problematic with additional rain since it rose more than one foot Monday due to water being released over the spillway at Park Reservoir and another half foot with Tuesday’s storm.
Husman said county crews drove all county roads Wednesday morning and didn’t find any damage. There was evidence of minor localized flooding and reports of a few crawl spaces in Downer Addition filling with some water but, overall, the county didn’t sustain much damage. Husman did note that city police closed a few streets due to flooding including Loucks Street near Main Street and the intersection of 11th Street and Val Vista.
City crews were out examining damage Wednesday morning. Public Works Director Nic Bateson said he was waiting for a full report as of press time but had not received any calls about significant damage. Street crews were dispatched to remove debris from a few clogged street inlets during the storm.
Tom Manolis, Sheridan water treatment superintendent, said the plant was ready to handle the severe weather.
“If it’s a severe storm, it will stir up turbidity and that can sometimes create challenges for us, but we have everything in place and ready to go,” he said. “We are prepared for anything that might happen weather wise.”
Manolis said mountain reservoirs and lakes are full and spilling over as they should right now.
“We are set in a very typical severe weather pattern for this time of year,” Tesar said. “It’s not an unusual pattern, but it is certainly focused on the Sheridan area.”
For more information and weather updates and alerts, visit www.weather.gov.