EUGENE, Ore. -- The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Lane and Linn counties Thursday afternoon as black clouds, lightning, rain and hail marched across the region.
"This is a dangerous storm," the National Weather Service said at 1:32 p.m. Thursday. "If you are in its path, prepare immediately for damaging winds, destructive hail and deadly cloud to ground lightning. People outside should move to a shelter, preferably inside a strong building but away from windows."
As the storm moved through the area, reports poured in about hail, downed trees and power outages.
"It looked like a hurricane," Bill Clark of Veneta said.
His home was without power since when the storm hit around two o'clock until well into the evening.
As of 4:24 p.m., radar continued to indicate a line of severe thunderstorms capable of producing destructive winds in excess of 70 mph, the Weather Service reported.
The doppler radar indicated some weak rotation within this storm. While not immediately likely, a tornado may still develop, the Weather Service said in a warning.
A YouNews reporter in Peoria, Ore., posted photographs of possible tornado activity. The National Weather Service reviewed the photos at the request of KVAL News and initially said the high winds probably fell short of an official tornado. A storm survey team visited the site and determined that a tornado touched down in Peoria.
The damage was evident, either way.
The Weather Service has not yet confirmed whether or not a tornado formed and touched down anywhere in Oregon.
YouNews reporter brittany01 submitted photographs of the heavy rain and street flooding in Cottage Grove.
Storm affects schools
Due to severe thunderstorm warning, Junction City schools warned that buses may be delayed in dropping off students at home and walkers may be held until the storm passes.
The Eugene School District sent an automated message to everyone in the school district warning about the severe weather. Principals had the authority to hold kids at the school if needed.
Roads blocked by trees, rain
Even as the skies cleared in Eugene before 3 p.m., traffic on Interstate 5 near Brownsville slowed to a crawl as motorists pulled over amidst heavy rain and lightning strikes.
The Oregon Department of Transportation reported trees down across Highway 126 east of Veneta, Ore., and Leaburg, Ore.
At 3:09 p.m., a trained weather spotter reported 70 mph winds near Shedd, south of Albany, according to the Weather Service.
A severe thunderstorm capable of producing damaging winds in excess of 60 mph and penny to quarter size hail was located near Shedd and moving northwest at 20 mph toward Corvallis.
"I'm glad nobody was like here, or nobody got hurt or anything," Michelle Basham said. "Now I just have to figure out who is going to come and get the tree."
Widespread power outages
A tree hit a line in the Leaburg area and knocked out power to 860 Eugene Water and Electric Board customers.
The Emerald Public Utilities District responded to widespread power outages affecting upwards of 4,000 customers. Power was restored to Cottage Grove and Saginaw before 3 p.m. as crews continued to restore service to Noti, Veneta and Clear Lake.
High winds knocked trees in power lines, according to EPUD. In other places, lightning may have struck powerlines.