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Mean Mother Nature, Lawn Mower-Toting Tweakers, Deschutes Wilderness and More! 

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his Week's Sign That Things are Just Fine: Tornados in Oregon

If you're like us, you probably watch those television programs that feature unkempt young men chasing after tornados in armored Ford Escapes and think of the people living in those often-storm-ravaged Midwest locales and say something like, "Isn't it great we live in Oregon where we don't have to worry about tornadoes?" Well, think again.
On Tuesday afternoon, a tornado warning was issued by the National Weather Service in Oregon - something that has only happened a few times this decade - for Marion and Clackamas counties. And the warning was hardly for naught. Within hours, a tornado touched down in the Aumsville, a small town just east of Salem, ripping the roofs from houses, uprooting trees and causing plenty of other damage, including neatly stuffing the legs of an inverted lawnchair into van windshield in an image that had all the hallmarks of a post Elin-Tiger squabble. Thankfully, no one was injured, but it did cause the entire state to stop and let out one giant WTF, while also keeping a closer eye on the forecast. Could we have a tornado here in Bend? Well, according to the National Weather Service, a tornado touched down only five miles east of Bend on August 22, 1989. So, yeah, we could. (MB)

Hey Dude, Where's My Snow Report

This is the time of year when things start to go awry up at the local hill. Rain spoils good snowpack, high winds shut down chair lifts and ice events wreak general havoc. But Mt. Bachelor couldn't blame Mother Nature for the technical snafu that brought down the resort's website, including the much-watched overnight snow report on Monday evening and Tuesday a.m. Confused and frustrated power hounds pounded Mt. B's Facebook page, repeatedly pointing out what a long thread of other users already had. By midday, was back up and running. No official word from the mountain on what caused the outage, but it appeared from user posts that the resort may have failed to submit it's renewal for the domain name, a sort of basic Internet housekeeping for businesses. Here's hoping that the lifts run more smoothly through this week's predicted storm. (EF)

The Hangover: Central Oregon

Last Sunday, police were called at 3:15 a.m. to investigate a disturbance at NW 77th St. in Redmond. A neighbor heard banging on a nearby door, although the resident of the home was out of town. But police didn't find your average break-in, with a TV or maybe some heirloom jewelry missing. Instead, they walked into a scene from The Hangover: Central Oregon in progress.

First, police found window screens on the ground and a small hole in the door. Then they walked inside, where nothing seemed out of place except for one thing: 19-year-old Redmond resident Bryan Lopez was passed out on the living room couch, curled up with a blanket. Police also found a "mystery lawn mower," which didn't belong to the homeowner. Astonishingly, police say that alcohol was involved, but we strongly suspect Four Loko may have contributed.

When the homeowner returned the next day, he says he couldn't make any sense of it. But perhaps he needs to analyze the night from the perp's perspective. If this were us, here's how the night might have gone down: First, we go out for drinks. Then we run out of money. So we think, "Hey, there's a lawn mower! In December! Score! Maybe we can pawn it for beer money! Damn, the pawnshop is closed. Maybe this house has some money in it. Let's break in! But we like this lawnmower - let's take it with us. Wow, breaking into houses is really tough. We're kind of tired. Maybe we can just lie down for a second. IS THAT THE POLICE? Where are we?"

Makes perfect sense to us. Case Closed. (SR)

Middle Deschutes Wilderness

A preliminary proposal from the Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) could create a new 15,000-acre wilderness along the Middle Deschutes River adjacent to the Crooked River Ranch. The proposal, which has already been the subject of several neighborhood meetings, is still subject to change, however the plan includes the area in the river canyon around Steelhead Falls, a Bureau of Land Management property that is already designated as Wilderness Study Area, and contains prime wildlife habitat as well as a pretty stunning example of high desert geology against the backdrop of the much restored Middle Deschutes River. Sadly, but predictably, Deschutes County Commissioners didn't seem to jump at the idea of a backyard wilderness in this tourism hotbed. Commissioner Alan Unger who lives in Redmond said he "needed to know more" about the proposal, adding that there were other ways to protect an area besides wilderness designation. Sound familiar, just swap "Badlands" for "Deschutes" and were right back in 2002. (EF)

Drug Bust of the Week

Speaking of strange break-ins... A Bend couple was arrested earlier this week following a traffic stop on Hwy. 97 near Chiloquin that led to the discovery of more than three pounds of marijuana in a car-top carrier. Police said the marijuana being transported by Norman and Rhianon Hull was worth about $8,000.

A subsequent investigation by Oregon State Police led them to an indoor growing operation with 72 plants at a southeast Bend home. While official news reports stated the plants were found in the Hull's home, a top-secret source told Upfront that the home was in fact a vacant property that had been in foreclosure. In a fit of misguided entrepreneurialism the Hull's apparently squatted unbeknownst to neighbors in the house, which was located just a few doors down from the local sheriff's chaplain. Hmm, what possible could have gone wrong with this plan... (EF)


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