A violent hail storm damaged crops in the Coulee City and Hartline areas of Grant County Wednesday evening, sending water down gullies and leaving up to six inches of hail piled on the ground.
“It’s been a great year until you get something like this,” said Russell Dingman, who lost 200 acres of valuable club wheat in one field north of U.S. Highway 2 in the Hartline area.
The wheat, which was partially covered by insurance, would have been worth more than $48,000 at sale, he said.
Rain this spring has made the dry land wheat crops as lush and full as they’ve been in years, the farmer said.
“This is just ideal growing conditions for a wheat farmer,” Dingman said. “It was just decimated.”
He said the emerging wheat heads were “filleted” by the stones even though hail at this time of year normally doesn’t damage the still-pliable heads.
The crop damage occurred mainly across a swath of one to two miles wide running north of U.S. 2, he said.
A weather service staffer called him on the phone and told him a violent storm had been seen passing through the area, so he went out to investigate about 8 p.m. and discovered the damage.
He said water was flooding down gullies in torrents so large that a person could have rafted down them.
On Thursday evening, the weather service posted severe thunderstorm warnings for the northern Columbia Basin after the storm formed along the east slopes of the Cascades near Wenatchee and began drifting east-northeast.
The weather service received a report of a flash flood three miles east-northeast of Hartline and hail of 1.25 inches in diameter eight miles north-northeast of Hartline, among other reports.
A wind gust of 57 mph was reported by law enforcement near Wilbur, Wash., in Lincoln County, the weather service said.
The storm complex was tracked on radar into Stevens County where it dissipated about midnight. Nearly an inch of rain was reported at Cedonia in that county.
A trailing edge of the storm crossed the Spokane area about that time, dropping only 0.01 inches of rain at Spokane International Airport.
Dingman said the storm spared potatoes growing in irrigated crop circles south of U.S. 2. Hail damage to potatoes can be financially severe because of the high investment involved in growing potatoes and the effect of hail damage to the plant that triggers misshapen growth of the tubers.
However, the storm may have damaged some hay crops, he said.