Twisters, hail hit county

Verner Crowell, who lives on Northwest Second Avenue in John Day, heard his flowering crab apple cracking and finally losing a limb during Monday's windstorm. The Eagle/Marissa Allen

CANYON CITY - Undersheriff Jim McNellis said Monday afternoon's windstorm accompanied by intermittent heavy rain and hail in the northwestern portion of Grant County resulted in minor property damage but no injuries were reported.

"We did have reports of some actual tornados on the ground in a couple of different spots," McNellis said. "From what we were told, there was more than one that came through with the storm cell."

McNellis said one of the tornados touched down on Highway 395 just north of Long Creek and another was reported in Rightman Canyon.

"I talked to a guy from Washington who was hauling a load of furniture in a trailer, and he said there was like a whirlwind that took the tarp right off the trailer," McNellis said. "When I was there, the furniture was sitting all around the trailer just like someone had offloaded it. The man who reported the touchdown in Rightman Canyon said it looked like a fire. He told me there was what looked like a lot of brown smoke with flashes of red in it. The one in Rightman Canyon came from the Monument area."

McNellis said a couple more people reported seeing a tornado touchdown near Hamilton.

"I was in that area and there was a definite touchdown. Tree limbs were twisted and grass was flattened," he said.

There was also a report of some flash flooding west of Monument going toward Kimberly as a result of the heavy rain, and the Dale area received an evacuation notice for people living in mobile homes from the National Weather Service.

"I didn't see any major damage in my tour around the area," McNellis said. "There was some golf-ball-sized hail in the Camas Creek area and it was piled up along the road in some places. At the height of the wind storm, the power lines looked like jump ropes. This is a new one for Grant County."

Pendleton meteorologist Jeremy Wolf said the last tornado in Grant County was Oct. 4, 2003. It was a small, weak tornado less than a mile southeast of Fox.

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