Big blast: 93 m.p.h. gusts slam valley

Sandy Warnock looks through the items left in the open after her storage garage next to Simply Sandy's was destroyed by wind Monday morning. Photo by Elane Dickenson

Roofs, sheds, trees and power lines were among victims of high winds that blew through Wallowa County over the weekend and into Monday morning, with most of the damage reported in the Joseph and Hurricane Creek areas.

A local weather station between Joseph and Enterprise, reported a peak gust of 93 mph shortly after midnight Monday, with a high average of 73.6 mph. The station belongs to Scott Hampton, who maintains a very comprehensive local weather site ( on-line. Crestview Cable reported gusts as high as 85 mph where its equipment is located high on Alder Slope.

Power outages that affected the Wallowa Lake area Saturday and Pacific Power customers over a wider area Monday drew crews from Pendleton and Hood River to help restore service.

Joseph School District students stayed home Monday because of the high wind. "We had excessive wind, trees and power lines down on roads, and we felt it was unsafe for students," said superintendent Rich Graham.

The Joseph casualties include the Shriners kitchen building at the rodeo grounds, Paul's Chevron station and a mobile home, all which lost part of their roof, and a storage garage next to Simply Sandy's.

"I have two more buildings gone at home," said Sandy Warnock Monday morning, while surveying the contents of her garage. What was left of its metal hide lay twisted nearby. She said that at her place on Farmers Lane a large wooden RV storage building and a cattle loafing shed, also made of wood, had both blown into the middle of her pasture.

The wind blew the hardest Friday night and Saturday, died down Saturday night and most of Sunday, and then blew strong and hard again Sunday night and early Monday morning.

High wind warnings were issued intermittently throughout the region, with the last one allowed to expire at 9:45 a.m. Monday.

On Monday all insurance offices reported numerous claims of damage from the wind storm.

"We've had quite a few claims," said Kathy Casper at Alpine Insurance. "A lot of roofs have damage, trees have blown over and we lost a hay barn. Nothing too major though."

"So far we've had 10 claims, and I'm sure there will be more," said Kim Stoffel of Coleman and Chrisman Insurance. "Most of them have been roofs and a few trees."

The story was the same from Farmers Insurance. "We've had quite a few, from minor shingles blowing off to buildings blowing over, mostly out buildings," said Les Bridges.

Approximately 100 customers were affected by electrical outages Monday morning, according to a Pacific Power media spokesman, with all but 14 back in service by 8 p.m. According to the local office, the outages were spread over a large area, though the majority were in the Joseph area. Residents on Tucker Down Rd., Bonner Lane, Elk Mt. Rd., Wallowa Mountain Loop Rd. and Scotch Creek Rd. were among those affected.

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