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Area crops escape damage from hail-slinging storm.

Byline: Tim Christie The Register-Guard

The brief, intense thunderstorm that blasted hail through a swatch of Eugene Sunday night caused no apparent damage to local crops, according to Ross Penhallegon, horticulture agent for the OSU Extension Service in Lane County. Penhallegon said he got no reports of crop damage nor did he see any while driving around Monday.

A spot check with local nurseries and farms also turned up no damage from the storm, which hit about 7 p.m. Sunday night.

"We got real lucky," said Randy Henderson of Thistledown Farms on River Road. "It would have been devastating" to apple and pear crops.

"It was more of a nuisance than anything," said Harold Greer of Greer Gardens, a Eugene nursery. A few limbs broke, and the shop flooded when ice and hail clogged drains, he said.

It's not unusual for the intense part of a thunderstorm to hit a relatively small area, said Ira Kosovitz, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Portland.

Hail occurs when rapidly rising air from a thunderstorm is so strong that raindrops can't fall and instead get shot up into the freezing atmosphere, where they turn to ice and fall to the ground as hail.

Hail as big around as a quarter was reported in some areas, Kosovitz said.

Penhallegon said the rain that came with the storm was good because crops needed the moisture after a dry spell.

But a few days of wet and warm weather "brings out every disease" that affects plants, particularly fungal disease, he said.

"Three or four days, that's all it takes for fungus to go crazy," he said. "People need to be awake and aware of fungus and bacterial problems so we don't get bushwhacked."

`If it dries out (today), we'll be OK,' he said.
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Title Annotation:Weather
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 23, 2006
Words:299
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