Meadows Blog

Friday, October 21: Windstorms, the Hurricanes of the Pacific NW

The week of October 16-22 is Winter Weather Awareness Week in the Pacific Northwest, including the states of Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Each day, a new topic will be discussed, along with new informational links. This is republished with permission from the National Weather Forecast Office in Portland, OR.

The Pacific Northwest does not get hurricanes, but it does get hurricane force winds.

Across eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, Idaho and Montana:
In January 2008 a powerful wind storm in Walla Walla, WA and Milton Freewater, OR is a recent and striking example. Wind gusts exceeding 70 mph caused widespread damage. Hundreds of trees were downed, power lines were damaged, vehicles were blown off the road, and even houses were damaged during this event.

Across western Washington and western Oregon: The best example was the nation's strongest non-tropical windstorm ever---the Columbus Day storm of 1962. This storm produced hurricane force winds across western Oregon and Washington. Winds of 150 mph (category 4 hurricane force) winds rocked the coastal areas, killing 46 persons, injuring hundreds more and knocking out power for several million people. Damage was widespread, with buildings, schools and thousands of homes either destroyed or damage. Other notable windsstorms of the past: the Great Olympic Blowdown of 1921, the November 13th/15th 1981 Twin Wind Storms, the Inauguration Day storm of 1993, and most recently the Great Coastal Gale of December 2007.

Are you ready for the next windstorm?
Windstorms bring down trees and power lines, and produce much blowing debris. Falling trees and blowing debris cause the most fatalities.

Be sure to have your 3-day emergency preparedness kit ready at home, school and/or at work. This kit should include water and non-perishable food for each person, and AM/FM battery-powered radio, along with flashlights and extra batteries. Be sure to include vital medications, sleeping bags, blankets and warm clothing.

In addition, inspect your home and grounds each year for nearby trees that may fall and damage your home. Ensure the trees are healthy and trimmed, and you home, school or business is structurally sound. It is also a good idea to bring lightweight items in out of the weather, or tie them down. During strong gusty winds, such items can become dangerous missiles. These precautions will help ensure that you are ready for the next big blow.

    Additional Links of Interest...
  1. Pacific NW Windstorm Brochure (.pdf)
  2. Past Windstorms of Oregon, including Columbus Day Storm
  3. Historic Windstorm Photographs (mostly NW Oregon/SW Washington)
  4. Each local office may have photographs online (see office links below)

Remember, in times of hazardous winter weather, you can get all these vital NOAA/National Weather Service messages via NOAA Weather Radio, your favorite local media, or through NOAA's National Weather Service websites.

For questions about local Winter Weather Preparedness, contact your local NOAA National Weather Service Office:
local office contact by email contact by phone
Medford Ryan Sandler 541-773-1067
Seattle Ted Buehner 206-526-6087
Spokane Anthony Cavallucci 509-244-6395
Pendleton Dennis Hull 541-276-4493
Portland Tyree Wilde 503-261-9246
Boise Jay Breidenbach 208-334-9861
Pocatello Vern Preston 208-233-0834
Missoula Marty Whitmore 406-329-4840

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