AN EERIE SIGHT

AN EERIE SIGHT — Hundreds of acres of Lower Yakima Valley hop yards were victims to Labor Day’s storm that brought 47 mph winds and smoke from regional fires. Area farmers were out Tuesday, Sept. 8, assessing the damage.

SUNNYSIDE — A Labor Day windstorm downed power lines while hundreds of acres of hop yards swept through the Yakima Valley with wind speeds of more than 47 mph according to the National Weather Services.

Assessments on the number of acres of hop yards, now in full harvest mode, were still being made as of press time Tuesday, Sept. 8, but officials feared the damage was considerable.

“I know our ranch has a significant number of vines down,” Granger hop farmer Mike Carpenter said of the Carpenters Farms, LLC. He added some of the felled hops may be salvageable, “but oxidation sets in fast.”

Yakima Chief Hops Chief Supply Chain Officer Steve Carpenter spent most of Tuesday assessing the damage to the valleys hop yards.

“Yesterday’s strange windstorm certainly did a lot of damage to the northeast sides of area hop yards,” Carpenter said. “I think we’re looking at a 3-6% reduction in the 2020 harvest,” he added.

He said the Moxee area was hit the hardest, but lower valley yards were also heavily hit by the tempest.

“The downed vines can be tossed back up on the trellis and be okay, but the side arms vines appear to be totally stripped,” Carpenter remarked.

Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 Yakima Pacific Power customers were still without power Tuesday morning due to the smoke and dust-filled winds felling power lines. “Customers reported trees downing lines, as well,” Pacific Power Communications Spokesman Drew Hanson said.

“Our crews are still out repairing lines,” Hanson commented, reiterating that 200 Sunnyside-Grandview area customers were still without power on the morning of Sept. 8.

The gusts fueled fires around the region resulting in driving visibility issues for motorists and those fighting fires in the Prosser-Benton City area. More than 1,800 Benton REA customers were without power until about 9 a.m. Tuesday, Benton REA members Services Manager Troy Berglund reported.

“It was a pretty brutal situation,” Berglund added.

Julia Hart can be reached at 509-837-4500, ext. 123 or at jhart@sunnysidesun.com

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