Storm shatters tree, sinks sailboat

Birds oddly attracted to lightning-struck roof

Print Article

Lightning struck this tree across the street from Tanya Sheldon’s home on River Lakes Drive Thursday.

A swift storm swept through Flathead County on Thursday night, knocking out power to thousands, knocking over a sailboat on Whitefish Lake and reducing one tree to splinters.

River Lakes Drive resident Tanya Sheldon said she and her husband were relaxing in their home at about 11:30 p.m., when her husband started seeing lightning hit near Big Mountain and then near town.

“All of a sudden the hair on the back of his neck stood up and it hit,” Sheldon said. “Everything just lit up so bright and the whole house shook. He headed toward me, I headed toward him — we were sure it had hit the roof of our house.”

It wasn’t until the next morning that Sheldon discovered it was not her house that had been hit but a tree in a lot across the street, about 80 yards away.

Sheldon said she found two pieces of the tree the size of two-by-fours within 15 feet of her house. In addition, there were similar-sized pieces hanging in the branches of trees within 25 feet of the tree that was hit.

A former California resident, Sheldon said she experienced tremors from the Northridge earthquake as well as three other major earthquakes, but never as close to the epicenter as she was to the lightning strike.

“I’ve been in a lot of earthquakes, and I’d say that this was probably scarier,” she said. “I thought that’s what it felt like to have an earthquake right under you.”

There was also another interesting occurrence following the lightning strike. The following day, hundreds of birds swarmed Sheldon’s house, lighting on the roof.

“Maybe that’s what happened in ‘The Birds,’ there was a lightning strike and then they were attracted to the afterglow,” she mused. “I’ve never seen that many birds before.”

A pair of youths out on a small sailboat on Whitefish Lake also felt the wrath of the storm, but in a less electrifying way.

According to Whitefish Fire Capt. Justin Woods, the two children were caught by surprise when a powerful wind capsized and sank the boat. Their father took action, using nearby personal watercraft to rescue his children before fire department responders arrived.

Roughly 4,500 Flathead Electric Co-operative members lost power during the storm. The bulk of those were in the Whitefish area, particularly around the north and east shores of Whitefish Lake and in the area of Grouse Mountain.

Wendy Ostrom-Price, a spokeswoman for Flathead Electric, said the first calls came in around 7 p.m. Power was restored to the bulk of the members within five hours, with some having their power restored within half an hour.

Reporter Jesse Davis may be reached at 758-4441 or by email at jdavis@dailyinterlake.com.

Print Article

Read More Local News

Col. Falls woman pleads not guilty to assault on officer

July 23, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Daily Inter Lake A Columbia Falls woman who reportedly raised a gun at a deputy in June pleaded not guilty to a charge of felony assault on a peace officer at Flathead District Court Thursday, July 20. Lisa Marie De...

Comments

Read More

Col. Falls meeting to explain highway project

July 23, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Daily Inter Lake An informational meeting to update the public about planned improvements to U.S. 2 through Columbia Falls will be held at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 26, at Columbia Falls City Hall. The project inclu...

Comments

Read More

Flathead County jobless rate slightly improved in June

July 23, 2017 at 5:00 am | Daily Inter Lake Flathead County’s unemployment rate improved in June, posting at 4.5 percent, compared to 4.8 percent in May. There are 45,263 employed workers in Flathead County, according to the Montana Departmen...

Comments

Read More

Flathead home prices, listing volume on the rise

July 22, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Daily Inter Lake Home prices are on the rise in the Flathead Valley, according to Kelley Appraisal’s midyear real estate report. The Kalispell-based appraisal firm has monitored real estate trends in the Flathead f...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 755-7000
727 East Idaho
Kalispell, MT 59901

©2017 Daily Inter Lake Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X