Extreme spring storm sends visitors running for cover

Union Creek, Ore. — A standard golf ball is normally just over an inch-and-a-half in diameter, which is about the size of the hail coming down during Thursday night’s storm. It was hail that size that sent one man running.

“‘I heard the first thunderclap when I put my foot here on the step to go into the lodge,” said Chris Register. Register is on a cross-country trip, with his bicycle as his only form of transportation.

“It’s taking me through all 50 states. I’m working on a book,” Register said.

Register said Oregon is the 42nd state he’s visited. Thursday, he was staying at Union Creek Lodge.

“As I was getting my room, I noticed hail starting to come down,” Register said.

It’s definitely one of the most memorable – with the weather keeping things interesting.

“Moving back to my room, within 10 or 12 seconds, the hail went from pea-sized to golf ball-sized,” Register said.

That’s when he ran for cover.

“I just barely made it under the shelter – the porch at the back of the building here. It was amazing,” Register said.

Which is why Register said he’s grateful for Union Creek Resort.

“If anyone needed shelter, they were surely welcome here, yes,” said Kent Watson. Watson is the owner and president of Union Creek Resort.

Union Creek Resort sees tourists come and go – day after day. So when the severe weather hit the area, managers knew they had to provide some shelter for visitors.

“There’s not really any place around here, except for under a tree,” Watson said.

“I would’ve been hunkered down into a tree if it had been 15 minutes later,” Register said.

Which may not have provided much protection from golf ball-sized hail.

“That was difficult because it was coming right through the limbs,” Watson said.

All in all, Register says the excitement was worth it – for him to truly know the character of an area.

“Touring the country by bicycle, sometimes you have to deal with rough terrain and dangerous weather. But it really is the best way to see the countryside and to meet the folks who live here and get to know them a little bit,” Register said.

NBC5 news spoke to the National Weather Service on Friday, and it said there is evidence to show a tornado was in the area – potentially an EF0. However, it’s not yet confirmed. NWS Crews will continue to interview witnesses before any tornado is confirmed.

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