Flash Flooding Closes Powell Butte Highway

Heavy rains early Thursday evening caused hazardous flash flooding near Alfalfa, closing part of Powell Butte Highway for about two hours as crews worked to clear debris.

A Crook County Sheriff’s deputy on the scene reported 18 inches of water running down SW Bussett Road near Shumway Road and Powell Butte Highway, with large “bowling ball size boulders” in the road around 6 p.m.

One deputy made it to SW Hahlen Road and found that a culvert had been washed out.

Flood waters had reached SW Powell Butte Highway between SW Cronin Road and SW Bussett Road with about 12 inches of flowing water across both lanes. The flood waters ended up eroding the shoulder/ditch at the Central Oregon Irrigation District (COID) canal bridge on the highway, prompting the road closure which lasted a couple hours.

There were reports of at least one house in the area heavily damaged by water and rocks. The resident there was stranded because her cars were stuck in a river of mud.

Crook County dispatch reported the highway was closed between SW Bussett Road and SW Weigand Road as road graders helped push debris off the road between. Deputies were there to help get local traffic through the area before the road reopened about 8:30.

Central Oregon Daily’s Allen Schauffler grabbed a couple of photos that showed a bocce ball court gone aquatic and a typically dry gully turned mud bog.

The rain was part of a strong thunderstorm system that moved through Central Oregon over the dinner hour, with abundant lightning, thunderclaps rattling buildings and hail disrupting some commutes home.

Meanwhile, Crook County and Oregon Department of Forestry fire crews responded to multiple fire starts near McKay Creek Road about six miles north of Prineville.

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