In 1962, the Pacific Northwest was hit by the biggest storm since 1880 when winds up to 179mph hit Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Oregon was the hardest hit cars crushed, homes knocked down and trees uprooted. Electric service took days to weeks to re-establish in major cities like Portland where the winds hit a peak of 116 mph. The storm began as Typhoon Frieda and came on to the Northwest coast, blowing around and knocking down anything in it’s path.
At least 46 persons lost their lives in the terrible storm, one of the worst ever to rock the Pacific Northwest. From Northern California, through Oregon and Washington, an awesome 11 billion board feet of trees were knocked down and destroyed, a total of damage that far exceeded normal logging production from all three states.
In 1962, our family was on vacation in Vancouver, Canada, and I remember traffic signs spinning around in the strong winds, almost strong enough to knock a person down. In, our native Portland, Oregon we came back to no power and significant damage when our cherry tree broke and damaged the neighbor’s home. My great-grandfather reportedly hailed from Victoria, so we naturally enjoyed visits to Canada, which actually spared us from the worst of the storm.
The Columbus Day Storm of 1962 was a big event in my life. It was one of the greatest storms to ever hit the Pacific Northwest, and definitely one for the history books.