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Hail damages wheat in Grant County

Rainy spring had bolstered crop growth

A violent hailstorm damaged crops in the Coulee City and Hartline areas of Grant County on 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 wheat in one field north of U.S. Highway 2 in the Hartline area.

The crop, 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.

But after the storm, “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 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 pouring down gullies in torrents.

On Wednesday 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.

The storm complex was tracked on radar into Stevens County, where it dissipated about midnight.

A trailing edge of the storm crossed the Spokane area about that time, dropping only 0.01 inches of rain at Spokane International Airport.

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