(SFGate) Thousands of birds were killed on Aug. 11 when a destructive hailstorm lashed regions northwest of Billings, Montana. 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 release, biologist Justin Paugh estimates that roughly a quarter of the birds at the lake were injured or killed. About 5% of surviving ducks and a third of living pelicans/cormorants "show some sign of injury or impaired movement."
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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 to nearly 10 miles high.