The Miles City Star
Sunday, December 31, 1978
[i]"The Year in Review"
"Weather dominated the news and conversation in 1978"
by Owen Jones
Star Staff Writer
When it came to discussing people's favorite topic -- the
weather -- Miles Citians had a lot to talk about in 1978.
It was a year of freakish weather, and it caused some of
the greatest damage in memory to local buildings.
The Miles City Star has dubbed the weather the biggest local
story in 1978.
There was little warning on Tuesday, July 18, of the
destruction brewing in the skies around Miles City. The
forecast in that day's newspaper gave an ordinary outlook:
"Partly cloudy and cool with scattered showers through
Wednesday. Low tonight 54. High Wednesday 76."
The storm struck like a thunderclap.
It began about 6:50 p.m. Hail the size of golf balls
propelled by hurricane force winds tore through the town
accompanied by heavy rains.
It shattered hospital windows, beat up cars, swamped low-
lying areas, leveled homes under construction, destroyed
precious stained glass church windows, stripped trees,
destroyed shrubs, and left hundreds of people without
electricity and telephone service.
The temperature dropped by 25 degrees in minutes. Wind
gusts were recorded up to 80 miles per hour and the city
was drenched with 1 1/2 inches of rain.
Those caught out in the storm told tales of a roar so loud
that shouts could not be heard. Cuts, bruises and welts
were suffered by those who tried to make a run for it.
People went home after the storm and said it looked like
glass and water had exploded inside their houses.
The next day the city took stock of the damage. The first
estimate was $1 million worth of repair work necessary.
It quickly climbed to $3 million as local insurance companies
were swamped by claims. About a week after the storm,
insurance agents were figuring closer to $4 million worth
Repairman from all over the U.S. flocked to Miles City to
repair roofs, put new siding on houses and fix windows. Car
body shops were inundated with work. Some said it looked
like cars had been worked over with a ballpeen hammer.
Repairs went on for the rest of the summer and into the fall.
There is still work to be done in Miles City.
The hail storm overshadowed other weather during the year that
would have been very notable all by itself.