By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
Two severe thunderstorms pummeled Central Oregon Saturday afternoon with golf ball-sized hail, heavy rain and punishing winds that toppled trees and power lines from La Pine to Prineville.
Nearly 10,000 Pacific Power customers in Crooked River Ranch, Culver, Prineville and Hood River were without power for a time. By 4 p.m. power had been restored to nearly 4,000 people.
The swift-moving systems blew up in south Deschutes County around 1 p.m. as they moved north toward Bend, Redmond and Jefferson County. Residents across the region reported golf ball-sized hail, as heavy rains caused localized flooding.
The storms intensified as they moved north, with heavy winds downing power lines and uprooting old-growth trees.
Central Oregon Daily Meteorologist Scott Elnes said winds were well over 60 mph and there were more than 1,100 lightning strikes over the three hours the storms moved through the area.
A National Weather Service spotter in Madras reported winds up to 85 mph there, but the official reading at the airport was 57 mph, Elnes said. The RDM airport reported winds of 47 mph.
Crook County 911 reported multiple power lines were affected, trees were down and several roads were blocked.
Crews were responding, but dispatch said it could be a while before power was restored.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office reported 70 mph winds and golf ball-sized hail south of La Pine around 1 p.m. as the storm intensified.
“Deputies are reporting dozens of trees and power lines down in south county,” according a post on its Facebook page. “Use caution if traveling and please don’t touch any tree or object that may be in contact with a live power line.”
The Central Oregon Daily team of meteorologists, Dorrell Wenninger and Elnes had forecasted the storm all week and the system arrived right on schedule.
Sunny skies and warm temps greeted the region early Saturday. But winds picked up and the skies turned dark – and in some areas, an odd hue of green – as the storm approached. Temperatures dropped as much as 30 degrees in some areas after the storm blew through.