Biggest local stories of 2022: July flood roars down Last Chance Gulch

Phil Drake Editor’s note

This story is part of a 10-part series on the biggest local stories of 2022.

A flash flood hit Lewis and Clark County on July 3, pelting the ground with hail and sending a small river of rainwater rising to wheel wells and lapping at doors of businesses in the downtown Helena area.

Several businesses sustained damage along Last Chance Gulch and in the downtown area – including YWCA Helena and Lewis & Clark Library.

Matt Ludwig, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said at the time it appeared to be a super cell thunderstorm that crossed the Continental Divide.

Officials were aware of a chance of severe thunderstorms, but thought it would hit south of Helena.

It was captured online by resident Andy Shirtliff, who is now a city commissioner. He had seen the storm approaching and he and wife Laura had stopped downtown to eat after walking their dogs.

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Jordan Conley, operations director for Downtown Helena Inc., was relatively new to the job, remember the flood as being “quite unexpected” and caused

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