50 Years Later: The Columbus Day Storm
50 years ago today, Grays Harbor and the entire West Coast saw a storm unlike any other. Friday, October 12, 1962 will be forever remembered as the anniversary of the Columbus Day Storm. Meteorologist Ted Buehner explains the devastating magnitude of the day.
The lower 48’s strongest non-tropical wind storm in American history brought winds of over 150 mph along the Oregon and Washington coasts, and well over 100 mph in the interior of both western Oregon and Washington. We do not know what the strongest winds actually were, since either the power went out early or wind instruments were destroyed during the storm.
The storm claimed 46 lives, injured hundreds more, destroyed several thousand buildings and structures, knocked power out for millions of customers, and blew down over 15 billion board feet of timber from the coast to as far inland as western Montana.
The Columbus Day Storm is the wind storm that all other wind storms are compared. For instance, on a scale of 10 for the Columbus Day Storm, the Hanukah Eve Wind Storm of December 2006 is a six. In 2007, the December 2nd Storm had wind and rain for 24 hours straight, knocking down power for 11 days to parts of the county, but in 1962, the devastation happened in a matter of hours.
Even with help coming from other parts of the country, it took several weeks to restore power and phone service. Property damage was determined to be about $235 million dollars which translates to around $1.7 billion dollars today.
Could this kind of wind storm happen again? Buehner says yes.
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