Columbus Day Storm

Columbus Day Storm

October 12, 1962

Vancouver’s Gusts Noted At 92 MPH

Ninety-two miles an hour. That was the top wind speed officially recorded in Vancouver by C.J. Moss, veteran weather observer, in Friday’s ruinous storm.

Moss might get a lot of argument from bereft residents who thought they saw their properties flying away a lot faster than that. And of course, it was pointed out, the wind gusts were not necessarily of the same intensity every where. But what went by the official recording station was doing just 90-plus.

The Portland Weather Bureau clocked winds at 80 miles per hour midway through the storm before power failure stopped their equipment.columbusday3

They report that winds fell 25 to 40 miles per hour three hours after the first major gusts blew over the Vancouver-Portland area.

Warning Given

Advance warning of the approaching wind storm was issued by the Portland Weather Bureau at 10 a.m. Friday. The Portland Weather Bureau issued bulletins on the oncoming storm. Apparently most residents failed to get the information.

By October 15, it was reported that if luck held out for the bone weary crews working on the power outage, that half of the Clark County Public Utility customers would have light and power again. They hoped to restore power to the remaining 17,000 or so by the coming weekend.


Read memories from people who experienced this terrific storm.

Columbus Day Storm, Oct 12, 1962, I was 3 years old. I remember watching in horror as the wind picked up my swing set into the air..the storm was taking my swing set away…that was traumatic (words I didn’t know back then) for me..the wind then whirled my swing set around 180 degrees (also words I didn’t know back then either!) and set it back down almost in the same holes it had come out of.

Shortly after the stormed passed my parents and I went to see my mother’s sister and her husband in “K” Falls to see the damage there. I remember dad lifting me high up on his shoulders so I could see above the crowds of people to look at all the cars that were trapped in the underpass and under water. I could see the tops of the cars and the radio antennas that were sticking up.

My dad came home early that day to make sure that mom and I were to stay inside of the house. He (was a minister) was going out to help get people off of the streets and to safe places. He said people were scared and wouldn’t stay in their houses. Of course in the mind of a 3 year old I just thought silly people why don’t they do what they are told!

June 30, 2008

I can’t believe that we all lived through a piece of history. I was 8 years old and living in Medford, Oregon. I remember watching the wind and rain blowing across the road and I remember looking out of my bedroom window and watching my dad out in the pasture trying to make sure the corral gates were closed, which didn’t do a lot of good.

We lost a number of trees including a 100 year old Chinese Elm tree which fell causing a domino effect on several other trees including one that came through my bedroom window.

After all was said and done, my best friend’s brothers came over and helped my dad cut up all of the downed trees in our yard, the neighbor’s yard and in the street.

June 3, 2008

I read the article online about the 1962 Columbus Day storm with interest, as I remember it clearly.

I was in the 5th grade at Rooseveldt Elementary School in North Bend, Oregon.

The sky turned yellowish green in the afternoon, then the wind started. My classroom had windows along the side the wind came from. Our teacher had us sit along the far wall on the floor under the blackboard, as branches were hitting the windows.

When school was dismissed, our teachers and other adults formed a line down the walk to the street, as the school sat up on a rise, to hand the children from adult to adult as the wind was so strong that children could not stay on their feet.

My sister was in PE at the junior high when the power went off. The students were in the locker room and very frightened.

I can remember seeing a child holding onto the pickets of our fence at home and blowing sideways in the wind.

My dad worked at the paper mill north of town. At high tide waves were breaking over the road and he was unable to get home until low tide.

Our power was out for days, we lost our roof and fence. We received no warning of this storm.

Lova McMahon
April 7, 2008

We just had a storm blow through Yuba City CA that reminded me of the Columbus Day Storm of 62. I found your site when researching the storm.

I was in Centralia staying with my grandmother for the week up on the top of Cook Hill. My memories (I was 4) are of my grandmother and I standing in the open doorway watching the wind blow like crazy. And they day after we still didn’t have electricity so she drove into town to go to a friends house so I could take a bath..Oh yeah and a huge tree fell on one of her friends house down the hill.

Not much, but hey I was only 4!

Alison Saner
January 6, 2008

I was a 9 year old fourth grader living in a 3 bedroom house on East 20th Street in Albany, Oregon on that fateful day.? I lived with my parents and three younger sisters ages 8, 6, and 4.? As all mom’s back then, my mom was a stay-at-home mom and my dad worked in a plywood mill the other side of Corvallis.? My grandfather who lived in Falls City, was at our house because he and my dad were planning to leave for a weekend hunting trip after my dad returned home from work that night.? My mom had been in the kitchen cooking all day to prepare food for the men to take with them on their hunting trip.

I will never forget how dark the sky became that afternoon.? We watched through our living room window as roof shingles ripped off the houses along with tree limbs, and swirled in the dark sky.? Some of the flying debris hit one of the small windows below our picture window and the small window broke.? When it became obvious that this wasn’t just “any old storm”, my mom secured our safety by closing all the bedroom and bathroom doors.? She put our little chairs from the table and chair set that my dad had built for us in the hallway and made the four of us girls stay in the center of the house.? That hallway was cold and dark like being in a cave.? We could hear the wind howling and the debris banging against the house.? No matter how scared I was, I was the “big sis”, and I felt it was my responsibility to be brave and calm the younger ones.? I can remember my youngest sister, who was four, crying hysterically. I’ve since shared this story with her and she doesn’t remember.

My dad had a rough drive home, but he made it safely.? Upon arriving home, my mom joined my dad outside and the two of them attempted to nail sheets of plywood over the outside windows on the front of the house where most of the wind was coming from.? I don’t recall if they were able to get all the windows boarded up, but the large window in the living room was their main concern and they were able to secure that one.

Because of the fact that my mom had been cooking all day for the men to go hunting and we had camping equipment, we were able to have plenty of hot food over the next few days while the community utilities people were trying to restore the power.

I will never forget when we were able to venture out of hiding the next day.? The six foot wooden fence that had been around our backyard was completely torn down.? My dad had a stack of plywood sheets in the back of the backyard.? However, all were gone.? It appeared that the wind had just lifted the plywood one sheet at a time and each blew away like a magic carpet.? Our bicycles there blown all over the yard too.? Over the next few days, we were able to drive through town and out into the country to witness the damage first hand.? I will never forget all the uprooted trees and crushed buildings and cars.? All the years since I’ve grown up, that storm will stick in my mind as one of my most traumatic experiences ever.? Thank you for giving me and others the opportunity to share our stories.

Jeannine (Murrell) Yesko
Hagerstown, MD
December 14, 2007

I was ten years old; it was the beginning of my 5th grade year, and I was walking home from Lieser School, in Vancouver, Washington. I noticed that the air was very odd. The sky looked yellow and everything was still and silent. Heavy. It was very odd. I stood at the corner of Lieser Road and MacArthur Blvd., where my street, St. Helens Ave., intersected, and I remember looking in all directions, noticing and wondering about the strange weather, and walking on home.

Fast forward a few hours and I was finishing up my ballet class in downtown Vancouver. My parents picked me up and we were going out to dinner. We went to a Chinese Restaurant not far from the dance studio. I remember that I was very very hungry and I couldn’t wait for the chow mien. My stomach was growling. It was getting dark outside.

We ordered, but it seemed like it was taking forever for the food to arrive. There was a group in another booth, but they left before getting their food and my parents said they must have been worried about getting home in the storm. But we decided to stick it out. Suddenly the lights went out — everything in the restaurant was pitch black. We wondered if we were going to get our food. But food had been prepared, so we got to eat. It may have been something different from what we ordered, but we didn’t mind. We couldn’t really see the food anyway; it was too dark. They brought out candles and we hastily ate our chow mien. Our family — my dad, mom and younger sister and I — were the only customers. At that point, with food finally going into my belly, it all seemed like an interesting adventure.

It was windy when we went in, but storms and power outages weren’t all that uncommon. I was just a child, but I don’t believe my parents or the other adults in the community had any idea of what was coming.

By the time we left, it was getting very very windy. We ran to the car (1951 Ford) and as we drove out of town, store front windows were “popping” left and right. “Look, that window just popped!” “Look! there’s another one!” We drove home in blackness; there was no electricity anywhere in the city. Our headlights illuminated flying leaves, branches, and black snake-like power lines, freed from their poles, that whipped across our path and slapped at the car. We were stopped at one point by a huge Douglas fir that had fallen across the main boulevard; we had to drive around it and take another route home.

I don’t remember the sounds. It must have been crashing all around us. I think my parents must have had the car radio on, too, trying to get the news.

Our single story home on St. Helens Avenue had been brand new when my parents bought it in 1954. It was one of those 3-bedroom track homes build to accommodate the growing ranks of post-war baby boom families. Behind it rolled an empty field and our dining room had a panorama view of the city of Portland across the Columbia River. We didn’t have a basement. The four of us huddled in the darkness, together in my parents’ bedroom. I don’t remember being frightened, but I think my 9-year old sister was. My parents must have been scared, too, but I didn’t know it.

The next morning we awoke to crystal clear blue skies and sunshine. It was such a beautiful day, and we toured the neighborhood, surveying the damage. We were lucky. The only thing we lost was a young tree my dad had planted the year before. Some people lost entire roofs off their houses. Many lost shingles and huge trees that blocked roads and crushed homes and cars. We were warned to stay away from downed power lines, and we thought of all the potential live wires we had come in contact with the night before.

Back at school stories were exchanged. The one I remember most vividly was about the family a few blocks from us, gathered for dinner when a tree fell through the roof, right across the middle of their dining room table, and no one was hurt!

It is interesting to read what other people have to say about their experiences that day. So few seem to remember, or even know that it happened at all. But around here it used to be said that everyone remembers where they were when President Kennedy was shot, and on the day of the Columbus Day storm.

Terry Benge
October 14, 2007

I was eight years old in 1962. I lived (and still do) in Gladstone, Oregon about 12 miles south of Portland.

I don’t recall whether they let us out of school early because of the approaching storm, but I do remember the walk home. I put my hands in my jacket pockets and felt like I could fly up the hill to my home.

When my sister and I got home, our mother and infant brother were there but my dad was still at work. He worked for Portland General Electric as a truck driver for line crews, so he was right in the thick of the massive effort required to get the Portland area out of the dark.

As the winds grew in intensity, my mother fixed dinner and kept an eye on the weather. Our power went off shortly after dinner which added to her worries but fueled the sense of adventure in my sister and I.

We kept going toward the north facing living room window to see what was happening outside. In our neighbor’s front yard was an oak tree about two feet in diameter and about 50 to 60 feet tall. We had one about the same size in our yard. As my sister and I watched, the neighbor’s tree toppled as though a giant had struck it with a single blow of a mighty ax. It fell straight across the street and took down power lines as it went. I don’t know if I have embellished this over the years, but it seems as though a car traveling down the street had to stop suddenly to avoid being crushed by tons of wood.

When my mother saw that the tree had fallen, she made us move to the back of the house because she just knew that our tree would be next. It wasn’t. That tree is still standing today and I can imagine that it regales the younger trees in the neighborhood with stories of how it defied nature’s onslaught that night.

We huddled together through the night, my sister and I thinking that it was quite an adventure. My poor mother was frantic because she could not get hold of my father. I don’t know how she warmed bottles for my little brother that night.

When we got up in the morning, my grandparents came by to check on us. They lived on the northeast side of Mount Tabor and had not experienced the high winds that we had, so they still had lights and their telephone and could not understand what all the fuss was about until they came around to the south and west side of the hill. We ended up staying with them for a few days.

My father did not come home from work for any significant length of time for at least a week after the storm. He, and his co-workers, got sleep where and when they could. He tells the story of how his crew was working out on NE Sandy near Sylvia’s Italian Restaurant and Sylvia came out and personally invited them to return for a meal on the house after they got power restored.

Gladstone, Oregon
October 13, 2007

In 1962 I was a sophomore at Hudson’s Bay High School in Vancouver, on the JV football team. On Friday the 12th we had a practice (the varsity had a game that night).

At practice we noticed the wind picking up but the coaches (and we players) ignored it until a large fir branch broke off (probably 4 inches in diameter and 15 feet long) and did not fall down but sailed across the practice field, track and small parking lot then landed on the street. That was enough. Practice canceled, get cleaned up and home fast! I think I hitched a ride to Minnehaha.

At home my younger sister was holding down the fort. Our dad was working at a body shop and our mother at the cannery. The wind really started picking up. It blew in the front door. I placed a large overstuffed chair against the door. It blew in again. I repositioned the chair against the door and sat in the chair. I spent the rest of the storm sitting in that chair. We heard a loud crash, the wind had blown off the front porch.

We had large cottonwood trees in front of our house and they would bend, but not break. They were bending so far their limbs were hitting the house.

Our mother made it home first. We had lost our lights by then and she said the shingles on the roof were being ripped off. By the time our dad came home trees were down all over the city and no one had power.

I remember the next day as being very calm, blue sky, and quite pleasant. We borrowed spare shingles from an uncle and patched the roof (many colors). Helped neighbors cut up downed trees and fix broken windows.

Do not remember how many days we were without power, but we had a wood stove and plenty of camping equipment and made the best of it.

There are very few things that happen that sear their memory into your brain, but this storm is one for me.

Dennis Laine
September 6, 2007

It being Columbus Day brought back the memory of the Columbus Day Store. I as a young girl ran out side and right away my dress flew up over my face and as I hurried back into the house I saw trees bending over and every ones TV antennae starting to fall.

V. Jackson
October 8, 2007

My parents were shopping in Portland and I came home from Kindergarten and my older brother was at the house. The power went out and my parents still did not get home.

Then the phones went out. I was mad because I couldn’t watch Bugs Bunny because the power was out. My parents were trapped in Vancouver because trees had fallen over the Evergreen Highway and they could not get home to us in Washougal.

The wind was blowing so hard that our picture window was bowing in but not breaking. My brother pulled the curtains and wedged some two by fours into the window. What he did probably saved it from breaking. We had a fireplace and so he built a fire.

Eventually some of the neighbors ended up at our house because we had heat and because they were afraid the fir trees in their front yard were going to fall on their house. We did not have any big trees in our yard.

My brother and I were home for two days before my parents could get back to us. My mother was frantic. I was 5 and my brother was 15.

My best memory of the storm is that I got to eat Cocoa Puffs for dinner. I thought that was pretty cool.

Laryn Dole
July 20, 2007

I was also in that terrible Columbus Day storm. I was living in Hillsboro at the time going home to Portland on the greyhound bus.

I can still see the devastation of the trees on fire, power lines falling down, winds were so strong breaking branches off the trees.

Somehow I made it there & my Dad had to walk from S.E. Portland over the Hawthorne bridge to pick me up.

I was so worried being there alone at the depot, then he arrived.

Carlyn Jones/Sullivan
July 15, 2007

Memories of that storm continue to this day and I have lived in California for most of my lift, only one in Oregon and that happened to be my luck to experience that storm.

We lived in a cul-de-sac across the street from a forested area in Glascow or perhaps Oregon City. Great memories of the woods, of snow that winter, of lots of kids as pals, rodents, snakes, pheasants, whatnot.

The clearest memories that linger are of those douglas fir trees that had fallen, of the smell of them, the nosie of chain saws, constantly trying to remove them. Of the fires we had to cook food.

Of course the frightening wind and flying roof shingles is what scared us all. The wind howeled all night, never ending it seemed. We all huddled in one room. Dad stuck in downtown Portland. We were left for two days to shift for ourselves.

David McCrary
Los Angeles
June 24, 2007

On that Columbus Day I was a junior in high school. I had stayed after school to work on a project. Mr. Douglas was going to be grading papers after school and I had arranged to work on the project for a while after school. Usually I got out of school at 15:10. It was about 16:20 when I left to walk home. I attended Jefferson High School and we lived near Union Avenue and Lombard in northeast.

Upon leaving the school I noticed how calm and warm it was dor October. The sky was jet black, not just a black cloud but the whole sky and there were yellow streaks across. Never since have I seen that. About the time I was down to Union Avenue and Ainsworth St. the wind started. Things began flying around and I was hit a few times but made it home OK. We watched the garage across the street until it got dark. The wind would lift it off the ground a couple of feet and set it back down. The next day the garage was gone. It might have been found in Vancouver(?) but it was nowhere to be found. There was a lot of damage, another house had a tree in it and the next house had the roof off. All the power poles were down and there was np lights. Amazingly the phone worked when nothing else did. All the wires and poles were lying in the street.

Our house lost all the windows on the south side. Dad and I were building a second bathroom in the basement and had the plywood for the walls in our garage. When the windows broke I went out to get the plywood and board-up the windows. Our garage faced north so there was no problem opening the door. When comming out of the garage with a sheet of plywood the wind caught it and me and I went sailing. With the plywood on the ground I managed to get it behind the house where the wind held it as I nailed it over the windows. It was necessary to get four sheets of plywood out there to board-up the windows.

Anyone who was there in 1962 will always remember where they were and what they were doing during the storm.

Cliff W West
Rainier Oregon
June 5, 2007

At the time of the storm I was 7 years old, living in Coquille, Oregon in the 2nd grade at Lincoln Elementary School.

The most vivid memories I have of the storm that hit that day, late in the afternoon was of walking home from school, thinking all this wind was really cool, and flying backwards by holding the ends of my open coat like a cape and being blown backwards and lifted off the ground.

After arriving at home we were told to stay inside and away from the windows. Sometime around dark the power went out, looking back on it now the power may have been out earlier, I don’t think the TV worked when I got home, and we did our homework on the living room floor by candle light. It was hard to sleep that night due to the noise from the wind and the tree limbs breaking.

In the morning after the worst of the wind had died down we went outside, the storm hit on Friday, and ran around the neighborhood and looked at all the trees blown down and uprooted. Especially vivid was a giant Douglas fir, half a block from our house that was uprooted and the exposed root ball was at least 15 feet in diameter. I don’t remember any houses in the area being damaged but I sure remember all the trees being blown down. When you are 7 your whole world is the neighborhood.

February 13, 2007

I was a second grader at Noti Elementary school outside Eugene when the storm hit. The day of the storm we were sent home early from school. My mom knew nothing about the approaching storm and was not home when my brother, a fourth-grader, and I arrived. We waited on the porch until someone dropped her off home from shopping. She was at first mad we were there and thought we had walked home from school but after she called someone she found out the storm was coming. We did not have a car, my dad was in Seattle and the nearest neighbor was more than a mile away so we had to wait out the storm in the house.

The storm hit that night and it is something I will never forget. We lived next to a large orchard and as we watched out the kitchen window the trees were literally uprooted by the winds and pulled out of the ground. The power lines on the highway erupted in sparks and the power of course flickered and went out. The sound of the wind, was incredibly loud and the house creaked and groaned. I have never since experienced winds like that night. It was exciting at age seven but I think as an adult it would have been terrifying.

In the back of the house was a huge oak tree and branches from the tree were hitting the roof and pieces were flying off. It creaked and groaned and there was some concern the tree would fall on the house. My dad was in Seattle at the time and he drove down the next morning, took one look at the tree and we all headed back to Seattle to stay in a hotel while the tree was cut down. This was actually very fortunate because the Seattle Worlds Fair was on for only nine more days and because of the storm we were able to go to the fair with my grandmother.

Scott Haas
January 7, 2007

I was watching the KGW 50th Anniversary show last night and learned that the Columbus Day storm was the most powerful non-hurricane wind storm of the 20th centry. I found your article through google and wanted to share my memories with you.

I was 7 years old at the time. I was living in Albany with my mother, step-father, sister and brother. I remember being let out of school early which was an unusual treat for a second grader. As I was walking home from school, my step-father met me along the way to walk me home. This, too, was an unusual treat. I was completely unaware of the impending storm and just thought the windy day was a lot of fun.

We lived in an apartment at the back of a large house that had been converted to 3 or 4 apartments. We sat huddled in the living room with several other children who lived in the building. All of the families had gathered in our apartment. Us kids just played games by candlelight and looked out the window as the storm raged. At some point, the adults became concerned that a large tree in the back yard might fall on the house so we all moved to an apartment in the front of the building. All of us kids had to hold hands in a long train so we wouldn’t blow away.

The next day, all of the adults talked about how the storm had created a lot of jobs and many who had been unemployed would able to work for several weeks. For me, it was just a big adventure and I don’t remember being scared at all. I still love windy days and will always remember the “Big Blow”.

Kathy Jones
Albany, OR
December 22, 2006

Graduated Sunset High in June of-62 and was working with the Ferrier shoeing our horses on October 12, 1962. We had heard about the approaching storm just as he got to the farm on Cornell Rd. He said he wanted to get the job done as fast as he could so that he could get back home soon. We worked fast and got the four horses feet shod at about the same time I looked up and watched a VERY large branch off a fir tree moving north, about twenty feet above us, at a high rate of speed. Neither of us had noticed that wind because we were working at the bottom of the property, near the barn and all the wind was above us.

Father was still at work and we didn’t see him for three days. He was at that time working in the Bonneville Bldg on the east side and had to get from there over Skyline Blvd. pass in the west hills. I can only guess as to what he was required to get through but he didn’t get home with the car. The car that remained at home was crushed by a large fir that succumbed to the wind.

Mom kept my brother and I busy cleaning up the mess in the yard and pasture and caring for the rather non chellaunt horses and our one cow. By the time Father got home only the main trunk of the huge tree the flattened our Borgward, honestly a Borgward, was still on the remains. He told us that the Ford had suffered some wounds also but would be serviceable. He also told us how he had “worked” his way home, helping those that didn’t have help and getting fed for his efforts. He said he had been an electrician, an arborist, plumber and firefighter all on his way home, and showed the effects, and smells of it all.

Right now, tonight, I am holed up in the Lopez Island Sheriff’s substation, it’s 0600, it’s still blowing about 50 MPH out of the WSW and there are at least five sail boats aground, right across the road. The downed trees and other debris is at this time immeasurable. The OPALCO Electric crews are just getting out to go to work, and the Public Works guys have started up the saws to begin clearing the roads. I will go out in about an hour to assist with the saw I keep in the trunk of the patrol car.

December 15, 2006

I was at the train depot in Centralia Washington. My Dad worked for the Union Pacific Railroad and only came home on weekends.

We always picked him up on Friday night, however on Oct 12, 1962 the train didn’t show up and we were stranded at the train depot (probably the safest place in town) all night.

I remember being so terrified of the wind. We finally made it home to Rochester Wash the next morning and my Dad finally made it home that afternoon after he hitchicked.

Two of our big trees were knocked down and our barn roof was missing. That was 43 years ago, but still seems like yesterday.

Charlene Pan
October 12, 2006

I was being picked up from a nursery school in northeast portland ( lively day nursery). The power had gone out and by the time we had traveled back to the house which was in northeast portland the storm was at it’s height.

I remember that my father had parked the car in a driveway between two homes which were close together, to pick up my brother at his friends house just up the street from ours.

He ended up pulling out of the driveway between those two homes because the chimmeys were going to fall and one did !

Scott Lamont
October 9, 2006

I was a first grade student at an elementary school in Bothell, Washington, whose name I don’t remember.

The school was located on the hill above the high school.

I have vague memories of the storm, but vivid recall of the events just afterwards, as my father, Roger Whitman, 38, was killed in the storm when a tree fell on his vehicle.

He was the only fatality in King County. Among my memories are those of my weeping mother, concerned neighbors and hearing my father’s name mentioned on the Huntley-Brinkley Report on our old black and white TV.

My grandparents, who had just returned to their Minneapolis home following a visit to our family and the Century 21 World’s Fair, were compelled to return to Washington by train for the funeral, which was closed casket due to the severity of my father’s fatal injuries.

My mother, who with my father had leased space to open a business in Kenmore, had to drastically change plans, abandon the business plans, sell our tract home in Bothell, and move our family to a meager trailer on the Pilchuck River in Snohomish.

38 year later she passed away in Tacoma, Washington. Although this storm significantly altered her life, she rarely spoke of it. Late in her life, after suffering a stroke, she shared with me that she felt her duty was to put the past behind and do the best she could with what she had.

I have treasured this thought, and gained a significant appreciation for her toughness and adaptability in the face of circumstances, a trait I saw demonstrated again and again in her life.

My father, who was cremated (against my grandparent’s objections as Ukrainian Catholics), is enshrined in a niche at Evergreen-Washelli.

Bill Whitman
September 22, 2006

Hi, just wanted to say I was Five years old and we lived in gov. quarters at Fort Lewis. Wow! By the time my Dad got us home from a company function the wind was howling and power was out and I was one spooked little kid.

The next day the Army had set up huge mess tents in all of the housing areas. We could bring our food out for them to cook so it would not spoil.

I remember taking a lot of eggs and bacon out there. They gave me and my little brother huge apples and oranges. It was better than camping.

We had quite a few huge trees down. Our quarters did quite well. We were in the two story brick buildings right off of the main gate. Our big tree that was next to our patio did get blown down but, it didn’t damage our quarters.

I didn’t have to go to school for three days either!

Love this site. Glad to know there a lot of others that remember the storm.

Darlene Reardon
May 23, 2006

I was a student at Shumway Junior High in 1962 and my father sold advertising for The Columbian. I was in my bedroom reading and listening to KISS-AM radio on the afternoon of October 12, 1962. My father left the office at 5:00 p.m. and, when he got to our house near Ben Franklin Elementary School, he reported that there were already power lines and trees down.

My mother, father and I spent the night sitting in the dark in our living room, eating melting chocolate ice cream and waiting for the storm to pass. Saturday morning we headed out to for breakfast and found a restaurant in Hazel Dell that had power. I spent the rest of the weekend with my girlfriend, helping to clear up her grandparents’ yard in downtown Vancouver, where they had lost a lot of big, old trees.

It was a little nippy in the house at night without heat, but we had a fireplace so that helped. Schools were closed on Monday because most of the schools still didn’t have power. They re-opened on Tuesday, and I had to go, even though we still didn’t have power, so I couldn’t shower (major embarassment at that age!)

I’ve lived in Virginia since 1978 and a couple of years ago, my son-in-law introduced me to a good friend who’s a grad student in meteorology at UW. We chatted about the weather — it was snowing — and later in the evening he asked me if I knew anything about the Columbus Day Storm because his professors had lectured about it. Of course, I was thrilled to find someone who had heard of it, and told him a little of my experiences.

former Vancouver resident, now in Virginia
submitted September 21, 2005

I was in 3rd grade at Columbia Valley Gardens Elementary School in Longview, WA.

Early on my Dad let us out into the front yard to blow around in the wind. We could lean into it and were also blown over. A few minutes of that and our parents moved us inside. I spent most of the evening by the living room windows with my 2 sisters and brother watching the four 60-80′ fir trees across the street blow down one after another.

A small trailer rolled end over end down the street at one point and our back fence blew down. Sometime during the night my Dad climbed up on the roof and replaced some shingles.

Neighbors attending the RA Long HS football game that night were in the stands when the big flat roof was blown off over their heads and flipped over into the practice field behind. Power was off for 3 days and piles of trees were everywhere.

Richard Stratton, Bellevue, WA
submitted September 21, 2005

I was only five years old back then…….But I DO REMEMBER seeing the storm…

My family lived on the “West Side” of town on Simpson Ave. We “HAD” a tree in the front yard that was approximately 200foot tall. That tree was swinging around like it was made of rubber. The weird thing about the whole thing was it NEVER touched the electrical wires or my parents’ house.

I do remember telling my mom and dad that the “Big Tree” was getting REALLY close to the house. They told me not to worry about it and please move away from the window. I stayed and watched anyway. During that storm, I witnessed something that “STUCK WITH ME” even now I remember it as if it happened yesterday.

What happened was… “Remember” I told you about that 200foot tree in our front yard?…Well, during the storm, it was “LITTERALLY” cut in half by a lightning bolt. Then before the top of the tree could ever touch the ground, it SHOT like an arrow down the street and came to rest against an telephone pole, like it was placed there gently. It did no damage to anything, not even the telephone pole.

Now here is little bit of trivia for you…….. The sign on the Day n Night Market… Have you ever wondered why it LOOKS the way it does?

Well the answer is because the storm toppled it over in such a way that it was turned backwards as well. The store manager or the store owner at that time decided to leave it that way when they put it back on the building. That’s why the sign is upside down and backwards.

And it is surprising that no one has ever mentioned this to you. Well I hope this gets placed with all the rest.

John L. Walker, Camas, WA
submitted August 29, 2005

I was a freshman at Central High School, which is located between Monmouth and Independence, Oregon, a few miles west of Salem, Oregon.

The night of the 11th I played in a freshman football game against Silverton at Central High. That was a miserable night with the wind and rain and all. I ended up staying the night with a good friend, Bob Worthington.

Very early the next morning we awoke to crazy things going on outside. In fact, we didn’t get much sleep at all because of the wind, that just kept building and building. As we looked outside with the morning light, we could see high winds tearing at everything. It didn’t look good. Large sheets of metal were being torn loose from grain elevators and blowing through the air like tree leaves. Trees were being blown over. Things were flying everywhere.

Bob and I decided to go out and see the sights. Not a good idea, but we went anyway, as boys will do. It was very difficult walking in that wind, as high as 100 mph. I remember a tree leaf hitting me in the face. That hurt! Bob and I made our way to the top of the Independence bridge that crosses the Willamette River, not too far from Bob’s house. That was tuff going. From the top of the bridge, the river looked like the ocean, with tall waves and white caps. It was a sight I’ll never forget.

I also remember holding on to the railing really, really tight! We made our way back to Bob’s house where we stayed put for the rest of the day…and night. That’s all I can remember until the next day, when I headed home in Monmouth, where it became apparent just how much damage the storm had caused! The place was a mess! Many of the tall, tall beautiful (that I used to climb) fir tress on O.C.E. college’s property in Monmouth were blown down. It looked like a giant was playing pick up sticks with the trees but never finished the game. Parts of the college were destroyed. Homes and cars had trees atop them. Windows blown out. Houses torn up. Power out.

Our house had one of those roof covers with something like tar with white rock spread all over it. It simply looked like a rock roof cover. Well, the vast majority of those rocks were now blown all over the place. On the street, lawns, just about everywhere but where they belonged on the roof. Weird looking sight. Never seen anything like it before, or since.

Mike Hayes, Salem, Oregon
submitted July 10, 2005

My name is Dave Tarsi. I am 56 years old. I like your website. It is good to have that info so people realize what has happened and what can happen.

I was just about 14 years old when the storm hit. We lived in a small town called Marysville, in the northwest part of Washington state. The power was out for a week after that storm.

We were one of the lucky families, not having any large trees around the house. ( I have nothing against trees, in fact I have lived in the forest for 30 years )

I remember standing outside and hearing the wind screaming through the wires like in a surealistic horror movie. The clouds were moving overhead like a fast forward video. I guess we got around 90 mph winds at our house.

I have read that there was 17 billion board feet of trees blown down in the forests. As I think back, I am surprised the windows did not break from the force of the wind. We had small shrubs in the yard in front of the house that probably broke most of the force.

The scary part is that if ( or should I say when ) we ever get another storm like that one; there will far more damage and injuries than back then. The upside is maybe there will be better warning now that communication has advanced.

Dave Tarsi
submitted April 25, 2005

I was a first grader at St. Mary’s Catholic School in the tiny burg of Shaw, about 8 miles SE of Salem, Oregon. The winds picked up in strength during the early afternoon school bus ride back to Aumsville where I lived. I think my mom was in Salem at the time and had not gotten home before I did. My dad was on the last of his Coast Distributor’s route out of Salem as well. A tree had blown down across the road in front of our school bus just outside of Aumsville. Our driver was a local farmer. He backed the bus up and got a running start and got us over and past that tree. I ended up about 3 seats further back in the bus, shook up but uninjured. The tree was small enough that our bus didn’t sustain significant damage.

Our family lived on the main street and my grandmother right across from us. She came over and brought my older brother and I to her house. My younger brother and sister were already there. I remember my older brother helping our grandmother slide her garage door shut in that howling wind.

Power was lost before dark and still no parents. We were scared silly. The wind brought down trees all over town, which resounded with chainsaws for about 2 weeks. The volunteer firefighters were checking all over town for fires caused by live downed power lines. One fell on the wood shingled roof of our garage and started a fire. The volunteers caught it in time and knocked it right out. Thank God for the John Bean high pressure pump on that engine. It was able to knock the power line off our garage roof and put out the fire against the force of the wind.

I don’t remember how long we were without power. Many large, old trees went down. These seemed unmoveable before the storm but now some were snapped in two, almost all were missing limbs and debris was everywhere.

In retrospect, that was the closest thing I’ve seen to nuclear devastation. It was speculated the storm was brought about by the cumulative effect of the nuclear testing of that time. The storm lasted for hours it seemed and was preceeded by erie glow in the sky from what I read about it in later years. My parents finally returned home and we all rode out the storm at my grandmothers.

I’ve yet to see a storm that comes even remotely close to the fury of this one.

Dan Roberts
submitted January 12, 2005

In October 1962 I was one month old living in Amboy with my parents and grandparents.

We lived on a hill at the end of T.Carry Rd. We had 40 acres with a large old two story farmhouse and a big red barn..Of course I dont have memorey of the storm but it must have been something.

An old growth fir that stood in our front yard blew down dead center onto the house destroying the upstairs part of the house.Lucky for us we were all downstairs..We were without power for about a week or so and lived in the barn while the house was repaired.

Michael Wagoner
Vancouver, WA
submitted February 12, 2005

I was 11 years old at the time of the storm. We were living at 3316 “S” ST. in the Rosemere area of Vancouver.

My Father Don Werner, had us put on some old aluminum hard hats and head out into the backyard to pickup the walnuts as they were falling. It was amazing how loud the wind was and how the trees were being tossed about.

After the wind started to slow up, At around midnight, My father and I, who were avid hunters and proceeded to drive down to Nasalle Wa. for our deer hunt. I remember going by Lake Sacajawea park in Longview. The road was inundated with downed trees.

The city had taken chainsaws and had cut a path, just large enough for our truck to fit through. Every time we would cross over a down powerline my father would tell me not to touch any metal on the pickup truck. He was afraid of us getting shocked.

Tom Werner
Rockdale TX
submitted October 28, 2004

I was 8 yrs old and living in Lynnwood and I can remeber the power being out for at least a week we lost part of our roof, my mom had to cook via camp stove in the kitchen, we had heat via fireplace.

Doug Wells
submitted October 27, 2004

Though I live in Vancouver now. In 1962, I lived in Camas. In fact, I lived in an easily rememberable location. I lived on the main street of town, on 3rd street. I still recall the address, 813 N.E. 3rd Street.

Our family rented the house from Judge Eugene Harris. The house is no longer standing. It was torn down to build the Burgerville that is now there. Camas has gone through an amazing number of changes since that day in 1962.

I was eight years old on October 12, 1962, I lived in the house with my Mother, Father, and three sisters. My cousin was going to school at the Washington State School for the Deaf at the time. His family lived in Montana and he was a boarding student there. My aunt heard about the approaching storm and asked my mother to go and get my cousin.

I remember going with her and my mother saying that she had never seen the clouds being that combination of colors before. A mix of reds, greens, and purples. We picked up my cousin and barely got home before the wind started blowing.

I remember watching Jack Capell on T.V. saying that we were in for typhoon force winds, the like of which he had never seen before. That because the previous weeks had been much wetter than normal, to expect a large number of trees to fall. Because the water table had been raised and the roots of the trees weren’t as securely anchored as they normally would have been.

We lost power not long after the winds began to blow. The house we lived in was a two-story affair, but my parents had all of us kids sleep downstairs in the frontroom, in case we had to leave in a hurry. I remember the wind blowing furiously and wondering if the back porch might blown down (it didn’t). The winds blew most of the night and the next morning we woke to a bright sunshiny day.

The one thing that I remember most about that day was being so disappointed that I had to go to school that day. Right after the storm, the only school in Camas that closed was Oak Park Elementary school. My younger sister was going to that school, but I was going to Helen Baller Elementary School at the time. In those days, I usually walked to school and I remember going past Louis Bloch Park in Camas and marveling over the large number of trees that were downed.

Later that day, I saw the same at Crown Park. So I would have to say that the most significant memory that I have of the Columbus Day Storm is how it took down so many trees in the area.

William D. Miller
submitted October 24, 2004

I still remember the storm like it was last week after all these years. I remember myself and my future wife Janice had just come from work in Portland to my home on 33rd street near the hospital about a block off Main Street, just northwest of Shumway Jr.High. I live there with my parents and sister and brothers. When the storm hit the wind really did blow that late afternoon. We did lose one of our boulevard trees. I remember as the wind was starting to drop off I went outside and tried to hold the tree up so we would not lose it, but I could not hold it up.

I was just reading the Columbian newspaper on the Internet and saw your article. I worked for the Burlington Northern Railroad in Portland, Oregon, and was transferred to St. Paul, Minnesota in 1971. I am retired now. Janice and I live in North St. Paul, Minnesota, we have not moved back home yet, but I still miss all my friends and family from Vancouver from time to time. I graduate from the old Fort Vancouver (26 street) in 1957.

Elmer A. Strohmeier Jr.
submitted October 19, 2004

I was living on Vashon Island up by Seattle/Tacoma. We lived on the water and lived in a house that had windows all facing the water. When the storm came we covered all the windows with blankets and we all hid in our kitchen. It seemed like it would never end – it lasted most of the night and we thought the windows would break, but they never did.
We did lose our boat, however.
It was my twin brother’s and my 16th birthday. I’ll never forget it!

Judy Hartman
submitted October 15, 2004

I was a junior in High School at St. Francis Seminary in Troutdale, Oregon. It’s hard enough being away from home but when the winds started blowing it was frightening.

We lost all power, etc. and I couldn’t talk with my parents in Albany, Oregon, so it was quite unerving. We were watching outside at one point and a gust of wind came and blew a whole line of trees down on the top of a bluff overlooking the Sandy River.
We were glad when it was over.

John F. Fischbach
submitted October 15, 2004

Nice story. I was actually shocked to see someone write about that from so long ago! It brought back memories from my childhood..*S* (smile).
I’m originally from Vancouver, Wa. not Canada..laughing, and remember that storm, currently live in Atlanta, GA. I was only 6 at the time and the only thing I can remember from that storm was our front screen door was blown away, my mother and 2 brothers lived there.

Did not know the aftermath of that storm or the seriousness of it!
Thank you for sharing that story..*S* Take care! and hope to read more stories from you!

Lana Marion
submitted October 14, 2004

My 75-year old neighbor D.D. Boice related this story to me about the Columbus Day storm of 1962 which I thought your readers might also enjoy:

“At that time I was quarry superintendant at the Marble Mt. quarry above Wilderville, Oregon. The day was typically mild and cloudy and uneventful. About 15 of us were just finishing lunch when the lights flickered. Just before noon the wind began to blow and then became fierce. The doors on the shop blew off and I ordered the three 65-ton Euclid trucks to plug the hole and for everyone to cover under the trucks.

Al Brittain was on the hill and I went up to get him. There were fir trees 4 feet in diameter flying everywhere and you could hardly see for the dust. It was a tornado. I got Al and we got down. We then all hunkered under the Eucs where we hugged each other and were tossed about.

The storm lasted about 40 minutes and then was over. I sent Nick Coulter down to check the road- he immediately came back and said we were blocked in. That would have been about 2 p.m. I guess. We had 3 chain saws and a D-7 Cat. It was a little after 7 p.m. when we got down.”

Kevin from Oregon
submitted October 13,2004

I was 8 yrs. old, living in a Seattle suburb with lots of undeveloped acreage. We had 5 tree forts in the surrounding area, and all were destroyed. The forest looked like a bomb site afterward, with the alders taking the biggest hit. Since then, I have read that this storm was more powerful in meteorlogical terms than the “Perfect Storm” of moviedom fame.

J Price
submitted October 13,2004

I still remember that long day. I was a student at the University of Washington riding the Union Pacific train home to Vancouver from Seattle for the weekend when the storm started. I was going home to attend the Washington-OSU football game at Multnomah Stadium.

Rather than the scheduled 4-hr ride which normally would have arrived in Vancouver at 9:30 PM, we finally arrived around 5:30 AM after being stopped by downed power lines blocking the tracks and toppled trees dragging down the side of the cars.

The game was held as scheduled–don’t remember who won–but do remember walking around live downed power lines in north Portland to reach the stadium. My parents were without power for 4 or 5 days and cooked their food on a single-burner Coleman stove.

Walt Frederick
submitted October 12,2004

In the summer, my family moved from 5th St. in Vancouver to 6th St., just up to the top of the hill near Crosley Bowling Lanes. There was a big Chestnut tree in our front yard and I was just the kid to climb it. I was in the sixth grade at Harney Elementary School in 1962. When the wind started coming up on October 12th, we noticed it coming out of the south, which was unusual. My family had a view of the Columbia River and Portland from our front windows.

The storm grew in intensity. My mother tried to keep us in the back of the house for safety, but my sister Rose and I needed to see what was going on. We were standing at the front windows watching the power plants blow out in Portland when the wind knocked the Chestnut tree over onto the house. We skittered back when it was falling and watched the debris flying into the windows. My father came into the room a minute later and warned us to get back as the tree might fall. The wind was roaring so loud he hadn’t heard this great big tree fall right onto the living room.

My brother Dave came flying home on his bicycle. He’d been out delivering newspapers when the wind picked him (and his bike) up and turned them around, facing where he’d just come from. A man told him to go home and Dave put on a burst of strength into the headwind and made it.

The next day, Harney school was closed, which didn’t break my young heart. I was disappointed that some of the large Fir trees in the playground had been knocked down. One interesting thing was how popular our house became. Our family was into camping and we had a Coleman stove. Not too many folks in the area had a source for hot food and water. We had people we’d never met come to the house to get a hot cup of coffee and a bowl of soup. That was pretty cool.

Joel Ramey
Battle Ground, WA
submitted October 12,2004

I was just three weeks shy of my 5th birthday on Oct. 12, 1962. I was living with my family in SE Portland, Oregon. I remember what a lovely day it was-to begin with. But, by mid-afternoon my mother was acting quite anxious.

She announced that she and I were going to walk the few blocks to the bus stop and collect my older (by 8 years) sister who was on her way home from high school. I realized how odd this was and must’ve asked why we were going to get my sister. Mother informed me that a bad storm was coming and she wanted everyone safe at home as soon as possible.

In fact, a friend of hers had called earlier in the day. He knew what was coming, pulled his children out of school early, notified his friends and began to batten down his home.

As my mother and I walked to the bus stop I noticed how the weather had changed. It was oppressivly humid. There was a very high overcast. But it wasn’t the bright white overcast we’re used to. The sky was yellow-green. (Anyone who’s been in a tropical thunderstorm/hurricane will know what I mean) There was no animal activity-no dogs barking, no cats running about, no birds flying, no bird song in the air.

My sister had rounded the corner and was rather surprised and miffed to find us there. Home we went to await my father and older brother. Now, my father was in the habit of joining his friends and co-workers for lunch at the cafe inside the local Fred Meyer’s store. On that day he noticed a sale table of barometers. He loved that kind of thing so he stopped for a look. He figured the barometers were on sale because they were all broken. He came to the conclusion they were broken because the barometers all had a very low reading. Evidently he had never before seen a barometer reading that low.

To this day I wonder what that barometer reading was. I have emailed NOAA with this question but have never heard back from them. Anyway, everyone eventually managed to make it home safe and sound. However, it was a very long night of howling winds, battering rains and scarey noises.

Mother had to yell at my sister to come downstairs out of the west bedroom and away from the windows nearest the Redwood tree. My sister was again miffed, but did as she was told. We were very lucky to have sustained little damage-especially when you consider that our home was surrounded by large trees. The aftermath of this, the most powerful non-tropical storm to ever hit the United States, was amazing and bad.

So, don’t think that what happened in Florida this past September can’t happen here. It has, and no doubt will again someday.

Emilie M. Smith
submitted October 12,2004

On Columbus Day in 1962 I lived with my two younger brothers, 6 & 2, and my Mom and Dad in Mayger Oregon. I was 8 years old and my Dad was working the swing shift at the paper mill in Longview. In the early evening my older brother and I were outside loving the storm. We were lying into the wind and letting it support us. Later on that night when I was getting ready for bed I started becoming afraid. I told my Mom that this was going to be a bad storm but she said,”No, it’s just a little wind.”, so I went to bed.

I didn’t wake up until the next day. When I looked out of my upstairs bedroom window I saw six of our huge 100 year old apple trees completely uprooted. Our one outside dog was wrapped up in one of them, unhurt, but yapping loudly. Our house was also a hundred years old but it must have been well made because it sustained no damage at all. My father had come home across the Longview bridge at about 10 pm that night and said he hadn’t been sure he was going to make it.

The aftermath for us was what seemed like 3 weeks of no school and a root cellar full of apples which lasted through the next fall, as well as a sense of excitement which will never be forgotten.

Donnie McManus
Mayger, Or
submitted October 11,2004

Hey thanks for the time.
My family lived in Ludlum hill and we had a huge 5 finger maple tree in our yard.

For some reason my mom’s first husband was always stocking up on food and water dog food beer and SPAM! He was a X marine.

The wind started to howl and I stood up on the dining room table and announced much to the surprise of all the adults that we needed to get to the basement the tree was going to fall right where I was standing.From that moment I just remember my mother and Nana mumbling something about my gift of sight and if I was wrong where a foot might go.

And then we all saw the tree enter the house and fall on the dining room table. It was a weird noise but we ate cake and ice-cream and the neighbors came and stayed and shared and as kids we made the best of things and helped until the adults became tired of us “helping” and sent us into get goodies for everyone. One neighbor was a baker a real good one. So inspite of the havoc that the grown ups went through we kids had many hours of games new forts and wore out the highschool football players making them pull us around on mounds of fallen tree branches .

The parents were sharing and caring and from what I remember there were moments of tears giggles swear words and sweat. And the food was on forever, I think it brought the neighborhood closer than it had already been. Thanks again Namast’e HRM Guru Padma Donais Christmas Ambassador Santa Claus North pole right were the sky begins to bend

Gary Donais
submitted October 11,2004

I was a teacher at Henry Hill Jr High.I lived with my family of four in 10×40 mobile home on my lot at the outskirts of Monmouth, Ore. To protect my trailer I used some knowledge learned from my father who was a roofer and a pilot.

I can tell you with authority that the wind was about 100 mph at my location. I later became a roofing expert and have since studied wind damaged structures for forty years. The fact that the wind was reported to be a certain low speed at one location means nothing at some other location.

That storm changed my life for the better as I left my $4600 dollar a year teaching job and became a roofing manufacture’s representative through a series of circumstances directly related to the storm.. The first year at that job I made more money than the Monmouth/Independence superintendent of schools.
It appears that old saying about “an ill wind” may have been true for me.

Bob Byrd
Fallbrook, CA.
submitted October 11,2004

For many years, my father, brother, and I were Vancouver (Clark County) residents. My family redirected back to Seattle (9715 Aurora Ave. N.) from Portland, Oregon, in 1962, in order that I might undergo a series of operations at the Children’s Orthopedic Hospital.

I have many memories of that terrific storm. However; the most impressive was the path of Interstate-5 from Seattle to Portland that I witnessed in the storms aftermath. Huge trees were down and chunks of concrete exposed upwards from its once smooth state! I have witnessed many events since that time, but none have impacted my memories as that storm had done.

We relocated to Vancouver, WA shortly after that storm, as my father latched on to a job driving truck there.
Thank you for affording myself the opportunity to openly reflect!

Robert Crandall (Rob)
submitted October 6,2004

The older I get the more I think how very lucky my family was back on that day of the Columbus Day Storm. We lived on Broadway Street in Salem, Oregon.

My family consisted of my mother, Maria, and my four brothers and sisters. We were farmworkers and had been living in Oregon for a mere year and a half, or so. In the summer we moved to a “labor camp” close to Jefferson. The owner’s name was Ken. That’ s all I remember.

In the winter, because my mother didn’t want to ever return to Texas, where life was harder, we moved to Salem, where we lived in a rented house on Broadway when the storm hit. Our next door neighbors were friendly and I remember us children playing outside with the kids from next door as the storm was approaching, but then went inside.

Our little rented house must have been strong because we all made it OK. I wish that I had been old enough to have been there for my mom, who must have been so scared for us children and herself. I remember the wind most of all and that it blew so fast and so loud.

I remember hearing about one of the bridges that crossed the Willamette River in Salem and hearing about cars almost being blown off.

I now read about the hurricanes that are going on in the Caribbean and Florida, not to mention the other states that have felt the effects of the hurricanes. I just cannot image what it would be like to have to suffer through more than one storm in one month. I know that the Columbus Day Storm will always stay in my memory, even though I was little. I know live in Phoenix, AZ, where it gets unbearably hot in the summer time. We also have the monsoon season, and I haven’t really been through a serious storm yet, but know that anything is possible with Mother Nature…because the Columbus Day Storm is testament to that. Who would have ever imagine a storm of that multitude in the Pacific Northwest?

Sandra Rossow
submitted September 18,2004

I can relate to the Columbus Day storm because my name is David L. Columbus. I was 11 years old in 1962 and living on Waverly Drive in Albany, OR. Waverly Drive runs parallel to I-5 and is a mile or so due west. My most vivid memory was watching the T&R truck stop sign blow down. I don’t know if T&R is still there, It was on I-5 and Willamette Highway. There was nothing but a large field between us and I-5 at the time and our view was unobstructed. The T&R truck stop sign was a beautiful multi-colored and multi-patterned display quite like the lighted business signs seen in Las Vegas. It took about an hour or so it seemed for the sign to be blown down. I remember watching it as it tilted more and more, then finally went out of our sight and to the ground.

We lived on an acre or so of land and had 6 apple trees in the front yard. We lost at least one tree. We also had some out buildings that were damaged. When I lived in Albany Waverly drive was a two lane 45 MPH road at the edge of town.

I’m retired from the Navy now and I live near Pensacola Florida. I’ll always remember the Columbus Day windstorm of 1962, but it can’t compare to the hurricanes that pass though this way. We’re preparing ourselves and our property for Hurricane Ivan (Category 5)now.

David L. Columbus
submitted September 13,2004

I was just showing my 26 year old son the slides I have of the day after the storm. My dad worked for the PUD and was working in the storm, fixing trucks, so the linemen could get back out and fix broken lines, etc.

My mother and I stayed in the basement. God really took care of us as the only damage we had to our house (located @ 20th St. @ Grand Blvd.) was the garage door became dislocated and stood right next to the garage. And we lost a few shingles. It’s still fascinating to look at our slides and remember just how bad that storm really was!

Janie (Foster) Sorensen
(formally from Vancouver, WA)
Spokane, WA
submitted September 12,2004

I was 9 years old on Columbus Day in 1962. I was at a neighbor’s house which was across an unpaved “bumpy Road” as we called it and 3 houses down the street from my folks house in Northeast Portland where Mason Court and Skidmore met. I guess maybe it was the sudden noise from the wind.

My neighbors house had rather large windows facing west. I remember looking out in awe and puzzlement at all the debris flying through the air. I don’t recall ever seeing anything like that before or since the storm. I was very scared at the sight but my only thought right then and there is that I wanted to go home!

My friends mom urged me to stay put but I was very stubborn and headstrong for my age and I insisted upon going home. I don’t remember going out the door but I do remember running. I had to cross a corner of the property across the street where a muddy path had been worn. I remember the wind knocking me to the ground. I was so scared but without thinking I picked myself up ran home the remaining 3 house length of the block, went tearing in through the front doorway of my folk’s house which faced south, once inside finding my mom was sleeping on the couch taking one of her afternoon naps.

She had been alone in the house until I got there. I started shaking her yelling at her “Mom!, Mom!, wakeup! We’re having a windstorm!”. She starting talking yet was still groggy from sleeping saying “It’s OK honey, it’s only a little wind” to which I started yelling at her again “No Mom! Wakeup! We’re having a big windstorm!”

I finally got her to wakeup though she was still kind of half a sleep. I got her to get up and walk out to the kitchen. It was still light out as the storm hit right about 6 o’clock. Our kitchen windows faced North.

She finally woke up once she looked out the windows and saw shingles one after another flipping off the roofs of the houses on the next street behind, just flipping off into the air one after another adding to the debris already flying through the air. Her comment then was “Gee, I guess we are having a windstorm!”

I finally settled down as I felt safe, I was at home with my mom. We had no power. The lights went out the instant the storm hit. She started gathering up candles. We had a battery operated radio that we listened to as the governor declared a state of emergency and listened to other news about the storm though I don’t really remember anything in particular.

My grandpa and one of our neighbors husband named Arnold spent most of the storm driving around checking on the neighborhood which at the time I really didn’t realize just how dangerous that was with all the downed power lines and trees and large limbs from douglas firs blowing down. My dad was a truck driver and as luck would have it he was stuck somewhere down at the coast during the storm. My brother was stuck down at the neighborhood bowling alley.

Later when he was able to get home he related a story of a couple of stupid guys who went out and grabbed a large piece of sheet metal that apparently had landed near the bowling alley and thought it was neat to toss it up in the wind and watch it fly not realizing that it could have seriously hurt someone else or that they could have been seriously hurt or worse.

Every so often my grandpa stopped by and checked to make sure we were all doing OK. He related to us the story of rescuing his next door neighbor early in the evening. Their houses both face to the east. His next door neighbor went out on her porch when the wind had blown open her storm door. At the same time she grabbed the door to close it the wind blew both her and the door off the porch. My grandpa went over and picked her up off the ground and got her back inside her house. Luckily somehow she managed not to get hurt when she landed on the ground.

Some of our neighbors from the next block over came and stayed with us. They were pretty scared because of the way a large douglas fir tree was bending in the wind and might come down on their house plus the way the windows were flexing inward with each gust of wind they feared the windows being blown out. After it got dark… I think it was after 9 in the evening my mom insisted that I go to bed. I didn’t want to but she insisted. She had me go to bed in her and dad’s room probably because it was on the northwest corner of the house. It took me a really long time to get to sleep. I was scared being in a room by myself and we had a patio roof that was partially fiberglass and it made so much noise everytime the wind hit it plus the sound of the wind as it whipped along the side of the house. The sound was horrible!

I remember going out and walking around the neighborhood the next day and the streets were filled with downed power lines and trees. There were shingles everywhere as well as other debris. I don’t know how my grandpa was able to get through the streets the night before. I recall later seeing reports about damage in the area. Later when my dad got back from his road trip I went with him when he had to go down to the shop for something. I don’t remember what the time frame was between the day of the storm and the day I went with him. I just remember seeing every single telephone pole along Columbia Blvd. either the poles where totally knocked down or snapped off somewhere in the middle.

My husband and I at different times get into a discussion of the difference between hurricanes and typhoons. Being ex-Navy and having traveled much of the world he will tell you that typhoons are much worse than hurricanes. I don’t know if that’s true. However I do remember that The Columbus Day Storm in fact was the remnants of typhoon Freda that came over from the sea of Japan to hit Oregon and Washington with one hell of a whallup that late Friday afternoon on October 12th in 1962. I remember reporters comparing the windstorm the area had in December 1995 to The Columbus Day Storm. I can honestly say since I was here for the big grand daddy of all windstorms there was no comparison. In fact we’re probably way overdue for another really big blow. With all the new development in the area I fear we would face much worse devastation than what was witnessed after The Columbus Day Storm.

Keri Teach
submitted September 5,2004

I have some vivid memories of the Columbus Day Storm. We lived in Wilsonville. I was four years old, my brother Dow was three, and my sister Clytie was a babe in arms.

Dow and I were playing outside, when I looked up into the skies and noticed the clouds were violently boiling. It was such an unusual sight, I stopped playing to watch them. There was a strange greenish golden light in the air, and the trees started to do a deep swinging swoosh (in one direction) swoosh (in the opposite direction).

Then Mom called to us, and my brother and I ran into the house with her. Our home had a huge glass window which covered one entire wall. The dining room was right next to the living room, the kitchen making an L from the dining room. We ran over to an oak Buffet which was on the same side as the big window, and right behind the dining room table.

My mother, brother, sister, the bird and I scooched in behind that oak buffet when the huge window broke into a million pieces. All that broken glass swooshed past us, breaking through the big kitchen window.

Mom decided it wasn’t safe inside the house, so we all trouped outside into the middle of a field which was between my parent’s and grandparent’s homes. We watched as my Grandfather’s big two story barn sagged to its knees, tons of hay piling into the air above it, until all that remained of the barn was its peaked roof. Then I turned to see the flat roof of our own home roll up like the top of a tuna can, and fly away.

It is strange, but I do not remember being frightened, though Mum says when we stood next to the oak buffet, she said to pray, and my brother and I dropped to our knees to do so. I don’t remember that.

Ever since the Columbus Day Storm I have loved and enjoyed windstorms. And odd reaction to be sure. I enjoyed your website, Diane!

Beth (Gibson) Niquette
submitted September 4,2004

I was 5 years old at the time of the storm. There were, I believe 8 brothers and sisters living at home at the time. We lived on a dairy farm on Skyline Blvd. We had a full basement in our house and that is where we rode out the storm. I remember it was a ferocious storm.

It blew the top off our house and a lot of windows. I remember when it cleared enough to get out, our neighbors from a quarter of a mile away came on horseback to check on us. We had a lot of damage to the farm and barn.

Mary McDonald/Eden
submitted August 15,2004

The Columbus Day Storm. What a day!

Today is August 14, 2004. Yesterday, I was enjoying one of the last days of my vacation. I watched the weather channel as Charley hit Florida. This brought back memories of the Columbus Day Storm. When my husband got home yesterday (he is a California native), I was telling him that Charley was similar to the Columbus day storm. He didn’t believe me until I went to the net and showed him the statistics. Columbus Day was as big if not bigger than Charley a category 4 hurricane.

Now for my own experiences of Columbus Day 1962:

I was 19 years old and going to Phagan’s Beauty School in Portland. I think that school was down on 4th or 5th street in downtown Portland at that time. School ran from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. There was nothing unusual on October 12, 1962 in the morning. By afternoon, our customers were coming in and telling us that there was a storm on the way. I remember us students laughing about one woman who was saying it was going to be a hurricane. In Portland???

We had not been listening to the radio that day. At 5:00, I step out of the school’s door to await my carpool ride to pick me up. Everyone else from the school had gone. I was left standing there alone.

Traffic became less and less. The first thing I remember noticing was leaves swirling around the street. As I waited, the winds were picking up. Finally, no cars were coming, and the wind was so strong, I had to hang on to a parking meter to be kept from being blown into the street. I thought that was just because I only weighed 110 pounds at that time.

There was a pigeonhole parking lot across the street from where I was hugging that meter. The wind plucked off the steel screening of that structure and threw it into the air. By this time, I was terrified.

My ride finally arrived. We didn’t say much to each other. I think we were all scared. We proceeded North in order to cross the Steel Bridge. What a choice of bridges to take. The Steel Bridge was made of a mesh work of steel. You could see down through the honeycomb openings to the Willamette River below. The wind was blowing up the river, came up under the bridge, and lifted our car and then set it down again.

I remember so well looking south on the river. My memory of this is in black and white. The river and sky were just different shades of gray. The wind blew the river into large waves. Looking south to the Burnside Bridge we could see a semi-truck lying on its side on that bridge. The driver was hanging on to a light pole to keep from being blown into the river. (I was hoping the old KJW radio reports would tell me what happened to that truck driver. If anyone out there knows, please e-mail me, )

We finally got across the bridge. We went south on Grand headed towards Milwaukie. I don’t recall much about Grand, but when it turned into McLoughlin Blvd. I remember well. I watched as a camper was plucked off the back to a pickup truck and flung into the air. McLoughlin was 4 lanes wide at that time, I think. The road was down to only one lane as trees and power lines blocked the other lanes. The car I was riding in must not have had a radio, because I don’t remember hearing any warnings about being out in the storm.

We managed somehow to get to Milwaukie and a beauty salon there where I cleanup every evening for a little extra money. We all went inside to wait out the remainder of the storm. My dad called the salon to see if I made it there. He sounded pretty worried. We could not call out from the salon, so my dad called everyone’s relatives to tell them we were OK.

We stayed there for the night. The next day the streets were cleared to one lane, and my dad came to got me, and we went home.

My family said the trees in the front yard spun in the ground. They were small hawthorne trees. One finally fell on my car but only scratched it a little.

Winds make me very nervous today. I wonder what a satellite picture would have shown about that storm. Yesterday, they evacuated millions of people from the path of Charlie. We didn’t really know what we were in when we drove home from Portland that Columbus Day in 1962.

The following year, I moved to Southern California. We get some pretty good winds here but nothing like the Columbus Day Storm.

Cheryl Koch Bryan
San Pedro, California
submitted August 14,2004

I was seven years old on Columbus Day in 1962. Our family lived in Hazel Dell and my dad was Clark County deputy sheriff. My four and a half year old sister and I were standing in the living room looking out our picture window when we saw the neighbor’s patio roof and garbage cans blow across the street, and the owners, Wayne and Evie Slaslor, in hot pursuit. Shingles were flying off houses from every direction.

Shortly after the wind began to gust, something hit the smaller window next to our picture window, breaking the glass. Shortly after that my dad stopped by in the patrol car to make sure we were all right. After he secured the window he returned to work patrolling, assisting, and reporting downed power lines. Mom herded us, the cat and the dog back to my parent’s bedroom on the north side of the house where we were most protected from the wind. She lit a small Japanese lantern dad had brought her from Tokyo during the Korean War, and that was our light for the evening because the power was out almost immediately. She read aloud from Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat. The wind literally shrieked and howled all evening and into the night–I’ve never heard anything like it since. Our pets were terrified by the sound, and our dog was overcome with flatulence as a result of the stress–especially bad since we certainly couldn’t open the windows for fresh air. Being goofy kids, we laughed hysterically with each new wave.

At the age of seven, and not knowing the difference between a tornado and a hurricane, I had watched the Wizard of Oz at least once and also seen some slides taken by friends of my parents who’d been in the mid-west during a tornado. I kept worrying that our house would be ripped from its foundation and sent spinning into the air.

The next morning no one we knew had electrical power, but we still had a hot breakfast. Our sizable clan convened at my Aunt Ann and Uncle Royce Battson’s home where her small wood burning cook stove provided heat and hot chocolate while the men in the family cut the fallen trees in her backyard into firewood. Later we drove to Portland to check on my grandparents’ home, which was much less damaged than ours. But their tree had blown over, too top-heavy for its shallow roots to withstand the wind. I’ve never had fresh walnuts since, but I still remember how delicate their flavor was compared to commercial walnuts.

I read with admiration and horror Dennis Heck’s description of his dad making that trip on foot to collect his son from Columbia River High School. I remember Dennis from Lakeshore Elementary school–he’d have been a couple years ahead of me. One thing I don’t have a recollection of is how long, if at all, school was closed down? I know it took a few days to get power back on everywhere, and the roads must have needed a massive amount of work to clear.

P.S. Dennis, if it rains all the time in Olympia, here we have only next winter, winter, last winter, and summer.

Kathleen (Riley) Kakacek
Idaho Falls, Idaho
submitted July 28,2004

I was 11 yrs old during and my Dad was out in the hills hunting, as it turned out he was completely oblivious to the storm.

My Mother, 2 sisters and my self, weathered the storm in our living room gathered around the fireplace listening to the wind. I remember watching a tree in the neighbors yard blow over and that later that night the sky was so crystal clear, you could see the moon and stars that you can never see when the electric lights are working.

Later, for the days we were without electricity, Mom warmed up food for the neighbors who didn’t have a fireplace. We went to the local Main Street Safeway, where they were trying to stay open in the darkened store and were giving away ice cream.

Kathleen Kelley
submitted July 10,2004

My family lived in Halsey, Oregon in 1962. I was two years old, and I have no memory of the big blow, but the rest of my family does!

My dad was a manager at a grass seed cleaning operation. At about 4 p.m. when the wind really started to pick up, Dad was outdoors assessing the situation and how to safeguard the outside equipment when a state trooper happened by. As they were discussing the drastic weather, a gust picked up two large wooden seed bins, about six feet square each, and blew them down the street.

Dad looked at the trooper and said, “What do I do about that?” The cop replied, “Hell, just let ’em go!”. They both watched helplessly as one of the big boxes demolished the windshield of a car.

The Columbus Day Storm still lives on as legend in my family. Every time I think about it, I wish I were old enough to remember it.

Steve Moser
submitted December 03,2003

I was reading your article regarding the storm. I was a first grader at the Yaquina View school in Newport Oregon.

I remember it was a Friday and also my birthday. We lived down the bay about 5-6 miles.

As the night went on we lost power. So Dad loaded us up and we went down the bay another mile to the Yaquina Marina. My dad had his boat docked there.

In the middle of the storm dad went down to the dock to make sure his boat was tied up securely. I remember the bay looked like boiling water.

The next day there was boats floating all over the bay (except dad’s). We had seaweed the wind had blown all over our windows.

Gene Petterson
submitted November 17,2003

At the time of the storm I lived with my parents on 72nd street and Baylor street in Tigard, Oregon. We could see the Tigard Drive-in theater from our driveway.

I remember the wind blowing quite hard but being only 14 years old not thinking too much of it until the drive-in movie screen tore and then blew over.

I remember thinking that is one powerful wind as I used to climb on the screen all the way to the top when I was a kid thinking that the support behind the screen were really strong, but not strong enough. I can remember the shingles on the neighbors house standing almost straight up.

My brother spent the night at Fred Meyer Store as he was the manager to prevent looting I guess) so I went over to his house on the other side of Tigard to stay with his wife and kids. I do not remember how long we were with out power, but I think it was quite sometime as we got some dry ice to keep some things cold.

I always think of that day every Columbus Day even though I now live in Iowa.

Greg Elden
submitted October 13,2003

I was only six years old but like most Portland kids can remember the Columbus Day Storm quite vividly.

Walking home from St. Rose School that early Friday afternoon I thought the approaching storm was pretty exciting and that twirling in circles with the wind was just that much more fun … until I got knocked down by a strong gust.

By the time I got home I knew something was very “wrong” as my mother had the radio on and the T.V. was in the kitchen (something I wouldn’t see again until the next year when JFK was shot).

She had fetched my sister and some neighbor kids from kindergarten at Beaumont School — walking, because like most families in the neighborhood, we had only one car in 1962 and it was with my Dad at work!

Shortly after I got home, I remember the sky turning a sickly yellow-green color and the power going out soon thereafter. My mother looked out the window, concerned that our neighbor’s screens were flying down the street. Then realizing they were ours, she sat us kids down in the middle of the kitchen floor with our coats and boots and she bravely(?) went out to retrieve them. I knew the scene from the Wizard of Oz and was afraid … but pretty impressed too.

The beautiful snowball trees in our front yard were uprooted by the fierce winds but unlike many of our neighbors, our chimney and window panes remained intact. The pink electric clock in the kitchen partially melted from an electricity surge … that was our storm “souvenir” for years to follow.

My father got home after dark when most of the storm had passed. He only worked in S.E. Portland but it had taken him several hours to get around the fallen trees and downed wires to our house. I remember lying on the living room sofa listening to the loud raindrops feeling safe now that he was finally home.

The next day was a Saturday … clear and sunny. All the way down 50th Avenue people were outside clearing debris and raking leaves. I remember hearing the sound of saws for weeks after the storm … cutting up the dozens of downed trees into fireplace logs.

Alexis Gonzales
submitted October 12,2003

Hello, I lived in the University of Oregon’s Amazon apartment complex while my husband was in Law School there…

I was pregnant with my son at the time…and across the way another gal was pregnant also…her husband was killed that afternoon when the roof of the neighboring Junior High school blew off and landed on the complex that they lived in…

I’ve often wondered what happened to her and how she made out…

Joy McLouth
submitted September 29,2003

I wasn’t born yet (1964) but I remember my mom, Susan, telling me that she had to drive home from work during the storm. She worked at the Five and Dime store in Canyonville,OR.

I don’t remember much detail but she lived in town so she didn’t have to drive very far but she said it was “one hell of a storm”. I’m not sure what the windspeed was but for a sleepy little town like Canyonville, it was the event of the century. Anyway, that’s about it.

Brian Powell
submitted September 20,2003

Here are my memories of the Columbus Day Storm of 1962.

I was four years old when the storm hit. I was living with my parents and two older sisters at 400 SW 132nd Ave. Beaverton, Oregon. The area is called Marlene Village. My father James E. Richards, Jr. was a science teacher at Sunset High School.

The storm is my very first memory as a human being. I remember my father driving on someone’s yard to get around downed trees in the street. I remember our neighbors had a peach tree that the wind pulled out of the ground and rolled it roots and all down the street. I remember that after the storm my father had to reroof the house.

Today I live in Puerto Rico and work for the Water Resources Discipline of the U.S. Geological Survey. I went through Hurricane Gloria when I lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In Puerto Rico I have experienced Hurricanes Hugo, Hortense, Georges, and Lenny. After each of these storms I have worked on measuring the flood levels and repairing the damage to USGS stations. I recently repaid the loan that I took out to fix my house after Hurricane Georges in 1998.

The Columbus Day Storm is my first memory. The next year, 1963, I remember black ribbons on the flag at kindergarten when President Kennedy was shot. In 1956 Hurricane Santa Clara hit Puerto Rico. I know two people who were four years old at the time and the hurricane is also their first memory.

Powerful storms have played a major part of my life.

Ronald T. Richards
Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico
submitted September 17,2003

Greetings from the great state of Florida.

I was just reading you article about the 1962 Columbus day storm.

I lived in Hazel Dell/Vancouver for over 30 years. I was 11 years old during the storm and lived on Stutz Ave.

The tree that was next to us fell over and hit our house. Not really a whole lot of damage, but it did cause a scare.

Wow ! memory lane.

Cecil Elkins.
Submitted August 20,2003

I was seven years old living in Cloverdale, outside of Turner, Southeast of Salem Oregon. I don’t really remember the onset of the storm but we knew it was coming.

We lived on a 16 acre parcel with a good sized wooded area and some out buildings. Most of our property was just field. I remember my Dad and my big brother outside shoving the biggest boards and timbers they could find under a main limb of a walnut tree that was going to fall on my Grandmother’s place (she lived in a mobile home with us).

I couldn’t understand why my Mom wouldn’t let me go help. But I remember watching them as their jackets were horizontal in the wind. We lost a five stall garage with a shop on the end when a huge Oak tree came down on it. It took us a long time to clean all that up.

There was a small barn on the property that always sat kind of crooked. Next to it was a fair sized Fir tree. Well, the tree went over and the roots picked up the low side of the barn… was perfectly level then so we just blocked it up.

We had a lot of Fir trees down, big ones. My Dad switched the old oil stove out for a wood burning one. We had lots of firewood for years. My Mom, Sister, and I watched sadly out the kitchen window while a favorite granddaddy Walnut tree went over. It was the coolest tree. Of course we played on it for a long time as it sat on it’s side.

My Aunt Loyce had a 1957 Ford that was parked in Salem by the Capitol. Three trees came down across it. Needless to say it was kind of flat afterward. All in all, it was an experience I will NEVER forget.

Susan Watson
submitted July 4,2003

1962 was the fall of my senior year at Hudson’s Bay High School.. And how I remember Friday, October 12th!

We were scheduled to play R.A. Long in football that night at Kiggins Bowl. All day long I noticed that the weather was very blustery, as I daydreamed through class, thinking about the game. We knew there was a major storm coming in, but I was in major denial about what it might bring. As far as I was concerned, bring on the storm — that’s what football was all about!

I went home after school and asked my Mom to fix my normal “pregame” meal about 4 p.m. She expressed her doubts about the likelihood of the game being played, but indulged my insistence that it would. After eating my steak and veggies, I went out to the Trees Trailer Court to pass the time with my friend Joe Mercer. His folks owned The Trees, and we were standing outside watching the huge Douglas firs sway in the gusty winds. All of a sudden, everything got very still and quiet. I remember jokingly remarking, “Well, this must be the calm before the storm!” Little did I know how prophetic those words were.

It was a little after 5 p.m then, and I decided to go on down to the Hudson’s Bay gym to get my ankles taped and dress for the game (we dressed there before riding the bus to Kiggins Bowl). As I was driving down Mill Plain Road, all of the sudden the wind started blowing like mad. I swear I saw trees falling behind me as I looked in the rear view mirror of my ’50 Chev, accelerating toward school. I parked my car and ran into the locker room where I joined a handful of teammates. We joked around, still thinking the game would go on — totally oblivious to the reality of the storm blowing in.

About a half hour after we got there, it was getting really crazy outside and then the power went out. Let me assure you that the boy’s locker room in the HBHS gym is like a cavern when the lights go out. Fortunately, an emergency light did come on, so we felt safe enough until some clown started telling ghost stories. After a while, even those got boring and someone found a flashlight. A group of us went upstairs and went out of a door on the west side of the gym. The wind seemed to be coming pretty much straight out of the South, and we soon discovered with great delight that if we stepped out of the windbreak created by the gym, we could lean fully back into the wind and it would hold us up. It was kind of like skydiving without jumping out of a plane! Just as we were oblivious to the thought of our game being canceled, we were equally oblivious to the concept that a branch or other debris might come by and hit us. Finally, Coach Allinger discovered what we were up to and herded us back downstairs.

As I recall, things started calming down around 10 or 11 p.m. and Coach let us go on home. While I only lived a couple of miles away, I had to take a very circuitous route home due to downed trees and power lines. But, in typical teenage fashion, I thought it was all a great adventure. And it kept me from being too bummed out about the game being postponed.

The next few days I worked like a dog. The roof had blown off the house of a family friend, and he hired Pete Ennenga and me to move all of his furniture into his basement. Then, Joe Mercer and I went around town with a chain saw and axes and helped clear downed trees away. I think that included a stint at Kiggins Bowl to clear the parking lot for the next home game.

I was totally exhausted by the end of the following week and came down with a bad cold. As a recovered in bed, I slept fitfully because I kept hearing airplanes drone overhead. When I awoke the next morning, I learned that those were planes headed toward Cuba due to the Missile Crisis. While the Columbus Day Storm seemed almost like a lark to me — the Missile Crisis was another story. It definitely shifted my attention from the storm.

A few weeks later, we made up our game against R.A. Long. It was played on a Saturday afternoon, and as I recall, we lost. Somehow, the combined events of the Storm and the Cuban Missile Crisis, seemed to take the edge off of football. And, anyway, basketball season was rapidly approaching and we had the makings of a great team! But, that’s another story……

Steve Maynard
HBHS ’63
submitted February 26, 2003

In 1962 I was 8 years old. My mother had gone across the street to visit the neighbors, as she often did. The wind was picking up, my father was taking a bath. The four of us kids looked out the living-room window, facing west. We could see our mother talking and laughing with the neighbors.

The wind continued to blow even stronger and we began to cry and try to wave for our mom to come home. She smiled and waved back.

Dad finally got out of the bath and noticed the storm getting worse, got dressed and ran over and brought mom home.

Then the memory is foggy except I knew we went to the house next door to the north, they had a wood stove, and heard the storm. I was crying for my cinderella watch and my dad went back to our house and got it for me. I can’t believe I would do that to him. He was great and made us feel safe along with our neighbors.

This was on Firwood Drive in Hazel Dell. The next day I remember our plum tree was knocked over and fir limbs everywhere.

submitted November 29, 2002

I was 14 and living in Cornelius, OR. I remember watching as 5 very large oak trees twisted and turned until they fell to the ground. We lived right on TV Highway just across the tracks. How frightening it was. But, what an experience. To be without phone and electric for so long, OMG………..LOL. Now I recall with a smile how we all tried so hard to see by the kerosene lamp to play games. And thank God the wood cookstoves had survived here and there.

Diana Gillenwater,Hall, White, Martin
submitted October 14, 2002

I was ten that year and when the storm was over we had a great time building forts in the piles of fallen trees. We lived in Portland on 8th street by Lloyd Center and there where a lot of trees down. There where trees down everywhere. Right in front of our house the pile must have been thirty to forty feet high. For a kid it was great fun. But of course not for our parents.

Mike Sellner
submitted October 11, 2002

When the storm hit our area, I was working in the plywood mill at Chelatchie Prairie,six miles east of Amboy, Washington. It was about 8:00 p.m. The roof blew off & the power went off. We shut the switches of our machinery off. Then we counted noses & started for our homes. The woods crew was there with their chain–saws. We cut trees & poles that had fallen across the roads into 8–foot sections so 2 or 3 men could carry them out of the way. We reached our homes almost in the normal time. We were all worried about our families.

Dick Bacon
Ocean Park, Washington
submitted October 12, 2002

My parents met on a blind date the night of the storm.
They were married two years later… My father was in the military at the time, got out and became a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, how ironic… They both told stories for years about the storm and the fact that it was a post storm party that got them together…

Erin Nolan
submitted October 7, 2002

I was an adjuster for Mutual of Enumclaw Ins C.O. I was living on an acreage out of Oregon City with my wife and 3 small children.

We were feeling safe as we had no large trees near the house. We suddenly heard a loud crash and felt the house shake. When we looked out we saw that the chicken house had blown over and the entire roof had blown off and landed on the roof of our back porch, the 2×4’s were sticking down through the ceiling.

We had no power for over a week and no water as we were on a well.

As a result of the storm a small Insurance Co in Woodburn,Ore went broke and we took them over. After working our own claims we had to adjust all of their losses but could not pay them off until we could determine if there was enough money to pay 100% on the dollar or not. As it turned out we were able to pay them all off with a few dollars left over.

It took 2 years to complete all of that work. My family didn’t see much of me during that time.

I saw unbelievable damage and hear hair raising stories from people about their experiences.

I still shudder when I hear the wind blow.

Archie Rich
submitted October 7, 2002

I was six years old, and in 1st grade at Our Lady of Lourdes. We were released early and sent home. I remember walking walking home (not far, just a couple blocks) and the winds picking up, and looking up and seeing an umbrella about a 1000 feet in the air just flying along. For a six year old that was a pretty amazing sight! I also remember that in the night the neighbor’s roof was ripped off and we lost power for about a day and a half. It was a very intense storm and I have never experienced any other storm like it.

Jeff Nye
submitted October 10, 2002

I have no memories of the STORM, but every year I get to hear the story. I was born at 5:00 AM, October 12, 1962, in Prineville, Oregon. As the story goes, the winds were quite strong there somewhere in the 70mph range. The doctor was called and said it was a risk to get to the hospital in the storm.

Way back then a doctor would make a house call.

The doctor arrived and felt he could brave the storm and drove my mother to the hospital. I was born in the hallway of the hospital in the dark.

My dad, two older brothers and my grandparents had soon followed behind the doctor. Their trip wasn’t quite as pleasurable. A tree fell on the car before they arrived at the hospital. But since this was an important event my Grandfather pressed on.

After all was said and done I had arrived on one of the worst weather days in our history. My Grandfather bought a new 1962 Ford Falcon which last year was finally put to rest with well over 300,000 miles.

Jean Hackney
submitted October 8, 2002

I was 13. Living in the BIG town of Packwood Washington. As I remember it was the night before deer season (MY FIRST!). The wind came up a little later than what I am reading about Vancouver. It was after dark when the wind started to blow & I was in bed trying to go to sleep. I don’t know about other boys but trying to sleep the night before your first fishing or hunting trip was bad enough but trying to sleep with the wind was impossible! It seemed like 1 AM when I finally got to sleep but I was 13 & it was 40 years ago, it might have been 10 or 11 PM. The Baby Ben alarm clock woke me at 5:30 AM & I was READY! Reached over to turn on the bed lamp & nothing. At that time we lost power due to all kinds of problems, so there was a flashlight by every bed. I got up & went down stairs with the flashlight & my guardian was already up. He said it was cold cereal or nothing for breakfast & we ate. He said that it might be better to wait for day light to start out as there might be a tree ready to fall across the road that we couldn’t see in the dark. When it got day light and were able to look outside (we never lost a window in the house) there was trees everywhere! Packwood was a town of sawmill workers & loggers so just about everyone had a chainsaw for work or burnt wood for heat. I helped my guardian cut up 3 fir trees about 2-3 feet in diameter just to get out of our driveway. Between our driveway & highway 5 (now US 12) a distance of 1 & 1/2 miles there was 39 large trees over 1 foot in Dia. That had to be cut out for emergency access by various people. In Packwood power was out for several days & even more if you lived on a small county road as we did. I am now 53 & still can see all those trees down & the only thing that even comes closed was the trees that Mount Saint Helen’s took down when it blew!

Frank Belcher
submitted October 4, 2002

I was 10 years old. Our family lived in Lake Shore, very near the elementary school. At the end of the street, a HUGE and towering fir tree snapped in two. Across the street, a roof blew away. I was too young to know it was dangerous. I sat in the front room looking out the window — which bent in and out like a blanket (that is, until my mother yelled at me to get away from it). I remember looking out at our front porch which had a waist-high brick wall. On top the brick was a vertical four by four that support the overhang. I thought it curious that the bottom of that four by four would occasionally inch outward with the gusts of wind. My father stabilized it somehow before it went. I also remember my father walking the mile-plus to Columbia River High to get my older brother. Downed power lines had rendered the roads non-passable. I thought it unfair that I could not join in the adventure. Sometimes perhaps it is better to be young and stupid.

Denny Heck
Now living in Olympia where it rains almost ALL the time
submitted October 2, 2002

I was 12 years old remember it well.

We lived in Rose City Area NE (63 and Alameda) Portland Oregon. My mother worked at a Bank on Union Ave (MLK) Portland. My Father worked at BPA Superviority Control Center Portland Ore. Its a “nerve center” for BPA and dispatching power to 4 states. My parents were at ” work”.

My Boyhood friend Stephen Hanor and I were doing our kids thing. His father was a longshoreman and former sea man. He had Barometers all around the house. His Barometers stated doing “loop de loop” in unison all of them. The weather was warm and calm. He asked me about where my mother and father were. (While us children were friends, our parents never met each other.)

TV and Radio were “normal”. Music and “”American Bandstand” for the afternoon fare.

Later learned that BPA had no warning; even though major circuits are controlled by micro-wave.

My Friends (Jim Haner) Father: called my mother at the Bank (awkward conversation since they had never met) and told her of his “Barometer Readings “Loop -De-Loop”. Only time that he saw it happened was in a Typhoon in South Pacific.
Told her to come home 3:30 PM Bank Closed at 5 PM. Tried to call my father at BPA Supervisory Control: Unable to get through (even worse now). Music on the Radio and TV continued as normal.

[Like St Hellions 20 years later no one from the Portland Media Area told E- Washington what was coming]

My Dad got home at 10 PM : got off at 4 distance from BPA Lloyd Center to Homes about 4 miles. His comment about Civil Defense: [Guadelcanel Marine; Democrat] “” If they can not see a storm like that : How can they see a missle? or Pearl Harbor they saw the radar, and did nothing”

Sadly events at St Hellions 20 years reconfirmed his observations. St Hellions he was in Spokane WA to see an Air Show; Home was Clorox WA 60 miles away. The Radio played music; no mention of the cloud nor the “events”. Portland Media was unaffected!!! Ash reined 8 inches closing the roads for 10 days. He had little use for Civil Defense (now Emergency Management Services [FEMA] ) after Columbus Day Storm. St Hellions confirmed to -All- of us 20 years later. The Columbian lost a Reporter, no Media in Portland sent -any- alarm to -any- media center any where. THIS IS A SIN

In 1986 I was with a County (Boise )Commissioner with the Fed Em Man Ad at a meeting. We are close friends. The Feds were developing a Emergency evacuation Plan for Boise and Area in event of a Nuclear “exchange”. The Feds were looking for safe areas to move a urban population to a rural safe area, with water.

My County Commissioner Friend after looking at the presentation and the maps. Asked “””How much notice do you need?”””” The reply was 3 days to move people. USSR Missles get to Idaho SAC bases in 60 minutes!!!

In about 1986 I was in Idaho’s State Capital Building, in the Basement the HQ for Civil Defense Plans. Saw 150 feet of Books on the shelf of contingency plans for “everything”.

Events of St Helens prove PRE-EXISTING plans do not matter much: Its an issue of what is left; and what is needed. St Helens proved that again, later.

Michael Korte
submitted October 2, 2002

Oh boy howdy, do I remember that Columbus Day storm of 1962

I was working for Safeco Insurance in Portland, Oregon 209 SW 4th in the Lincoln Building.

We had heard earlier in the day that a huge storm was approaching in from the Pacific ocean. Never did any of us think just how huge it really was.

I got off work at 4:30 PM and waited for my rider, Mary Weigman, who worked upstairs in the Bell Telephone offices. She got off at 5 PM.

We trudged on down to the parking garage near Front Street. Picked up my 1955 Ford (pink/white) car and began the drive home.

It was blowing really hard by that time and I drove North on the Interstate Avenue (no freeway then) and was having a difficult time to keep the car on the road. We crossed the Interstate Bridge and entered into Vancouver, Washington and headed East to where Mary lived. Tree branches, light poles were falling and we dodged them and kept going. Sparks were flying. I dropped Mary off across from the Deaf School and headed East again. By this time it was dark and I was young and not thinking it was really that bad…..kept going East on Mill Plain. Huge trees coming down and wires. I arrived home and our yard at 9812 Mill Plain was full of tree limbs. Raced into the house and as I opened the door and it was totally dark, went into the Living room where the picture window was hit by flying trees and shattered. Glass was flying. I quickly left the house and went next door to Vance Bishop’s house and stayed there for hours while the storm raged.

It was not over yet. Mom came home, my husband to be came over to get me and we began boarding up the hole in the living room.

Many hours later , Gordon, my husband to be and I went out driving to see all damage. Mill Plain looked like a battle zone. And next day the clean up began.

I went back into work at Safeco Ins. and for over 3 weeks the switchboard I ran stayed lit up continually. People were trying to call to report their damages. Safeco brought in Adjusters from other cities and they stayed in Portland for about 3 months.

Power was off for a very long time and we cooked on a Coleman stove.

I will never forget the sound of the Columbus Day storm. And the sounds of the weeks to follow of chain saws cleaning up the trees.

Patricia Thorson
Vancouver, Washington
submitted October 2, 2002

I was in the second grade when the storm hit. We were living in St. Helens, Oregon and just getting into the car to go to the Seattle World’s Fair. My dad stopped and looked at the wind and decided the trip was hot such a good idea. We retreated back into the house where we waited our the storm. The living room had a large window which was 8 foot across and went from the floor to the ceiling. It was divided into about 20 sections with wood trim. The wind seemed to hit that window at full force. I remember my dad and older brother taking pillows and holding them against the window because it was bowing in ward. My dad finally nailed a 2×4 across the frame holding the window from coming in more than 3 inches or so.

We knew it was bad. The space needle’s on top of the restaurant blew off. The steeple on our church blew off. I remember a huge barn being destroyed and many trees coming down. Some of our church lived in a trailer park on Hwy 30 where several trailers were rolled upside down. My sister’s teacher lived in the trailer park and was trying to tie down something when a piece of metal blew across cutting off her legs and killing her.

Believe it or not, my sister and I became scared with the window and the lights going out and the obvious wind. We asked dad if we could pray and ask God to stop the wind. He as a pastor has taught us that God hears us and yet know this was a major storm. So we got down on our knees and prayed. After we said Amen, the wind gave one more gust on the window and stopped. I don’t know if God stopped the storm across the territory, but he sure did stop it in front of that window. I had no idea what time it was to verify anything. All I know is what happened to us.

(When we grew up I later lived in Vancouver for 14 years and loved it. Now we are in Spokane as pastors. That storm has been a major spiritual anchor to my life as to god answering prayer!)

Randy Hood
submitted June 28, 2002

We lived on the eastern side of Livingston Mountain. My parents had driven to Portland, unaware of the storm warning, to pick my sister up from nursing school. Looking out our front yard, I could see Oregon in the distance. The sky was a funny color and the wind was blowing strong. My brothers decided to find out if neighbors needed help. Therefore, I was home alone, with no power, and no telephone lines. At first it was exciting to feel the wind blowing and see the trees dancing. But when it became dark, and I was there by myself. It was scary. At one point, I put my hand on the living room wall, and it felt like the wind was trying to blow it in. Talk about feeling a part of the story of “The 3 Little Pigs” and the Wolf blowing the house down!

I did not know what was happening, until others came home. They told me stories of trees being blown down on all the roads. People were out with chain saws, cutting the trees so traffic could get through. (Also loading their trucks with the cut trees). During this time, people helped others they did not know. I do not know if the Columbus Day Windstorm was ever reclassified as a tornado, but the sky was the same color as what I experienced in Minnesota and Texas during tornado’s. Even now, living in Southern California, the sky takes on that same color when we are having “water spouts”. While writing this, I can see the sky and hear the fury of the wind that dominates my memory of that day.

Sharon Kay
Fullerton, CA
submitted April 8, 2002

I was about 20, working at the Primate Center in Beaverton, Oregon. I’m remembering about 4pm as the time, and I was looking out the window over the colony buildings and saw a small plane come to a standstill against a backdrop of very high speed clouds. The plane banked and sped off downwind at an astonishing rate.

Shortly thereafter the winds hit. Many at the center were stranded there for the night, listening to the frightening snap of huge Douglas firs.

In the morning we had to use chainsaws to clear the roads. On the 500-acre site, 3000 trees went down.

Todd Gilmore, Jr.
Grants Pass, Oregon
submitted June 22, 2002

I was 7 years old at the time and we were living in the new trailer court on 4th Plain Blvd.

I remember my brother running in the trailer and telling my Mom that people needed help. A man banged on our door and my Mom left to go next door to help the woman that was pregnant.

My brother left again and I followed him to the door because I thought that I would never see him again. As he crossed the street to help the family with 8 kids, I watched a tree blow by his head (roots and all) and then when he reached their trailer, their awning blew away.

A man came by and yelled at me to get inside but I was very scared and wanted to be with someone. Just then a car came by, the man grabbed me and took me to the car. There was so many people in it that we were stacked on top of each other! They took us to the recreation center in the middle of the trailer court until the storm was over.

After the storm, we went to stay with my Grandparents in Orchards because of the damage to the trailer court. I will always remember when my brother asked Grandma (Emma Miller) if she would take us around to see all the “wrecked stuff” (he was 12) and she replied: “It’s not nice to gawk at other’s misfortune. I’ve got a lot of people to help and you’re welcome to come along but you must help or stay home.” Just one of the many lessons we learned from a very wonderful woman.

I remember a lot of brave people that day…the men that were running around trying to shut everyone’s gas off, collecting children and grabbing pets. The women that manned the recreation center, taking names, issuing blankets and keeping us low to the floor. To all of you, a very delayed thank you.

Susan Freeman (Fisher)
submitted June 23, 2002

It was a beautiful day in the spring of 1972. I was in the barn building stalls for horses that I was expecting, my stall rental business was doing well, I had my portable radio on and was listening to music on a local station. The music sounded good as I worked.

Then all of a sudden the music stopped, I put down my hammer and listened, after what seemed like an eternity, a mans voice came on. Ladies and gentlemen Peter S. Ogden school has collapsed and there were children in it. I froze for no longer than ten seconds waiting to hear more. The announcer went on to say that other buildings came down from a freak wind.

I could wait no longer. I ran up to the house, and briefly told my wife what had happened, I ran out the door and got in my pickup, only to discover it wouldn’t start, I quickly ran back in the house and grabbed my wife’s car key’s. I went back out and started the old car. I jammed the gas peddle to the floor as I let the clutch out, the old car shook and spun it’s wheels in the dirt driveway.

On my way to the school I met many encounters, Telephone poles were lying across the roads, Barns were laying flat, I had to drive into a field to keep going, when I could go no further in the car, I got out and ran. I had to get to that school.

When I got there the first thing I saw was my daughters class room, Her desk was under a pile of bricks and it was crushed, I threw bricks aside looking for my child. She wasn’t there.

When I heard the sound of a chain saw in the basement. I started to go down and see what was happening, a fireman stopped me and said, there is no room for you down there sir. In this time, I was hoping that one of my sons was alright. I went and looked at his class room, it too was a mess. Then I heard that there were some kid’s at the old cement pipe factory. I ran two blocks to there. I went in screeming my previous children names, a man told me to control myself you are disturbing the kid’s, then from another room my son stepped out. Without saying a word I embraced him so hard I could have broken his rib, after he got his breath back he told me what had happened. When his class room caved in He started running, then he saw a loose horse running down the street,{Dad I knew that horse was frightened] He tried to but couldn’t a nice lady saw him chasing the horse and took him to the cement pipe factory. (Thank you lady)

At the cement pipe factory I was told that some high school kid’s saw the whole thing and rushed across the field to help their younger counterparts. My son and I ran for four blocks to the high school. We went into the gymnasium and everyone looked like they were in a daze. I saw my oldest son and asked him if he had seen his little sister he said he had, and he brought her over from her school to the high school gym. She is up in the grand stands with her teacher, I scanned the stands, Then I saw her, my darling daughter was safe, our eyes met simotainiously, I let go of the one brothers hand and ran up in the grandstand to reach her, we were so happy to see each other that we couldn’t talk, we just hugged each other hard and cried

Then her younger brother came in the stands thought you were dead Scott she told him, then she handed him his jacket, I thought this was all I had left of you.

My poor wife had to sit home and wait for any news, she didn’t know if her children were dead or alive There were no telephones working The pickup was out of order, but we were lucky, our youngest son went to kindergarten at Peter S. Ogden But he was home with the chicken pox that day, And she did not have to see the devastation that I saw.

It was later determined there was a tornado in Vancouver, Wa. There never has been another one before or since. Six people were killed that day, and many more injured. That was the worst day of my life.

Don Fraser
submitted December 4, 2001

I was working for the Forest Service out of Randle, Washington (60 miles East of Centralia).

When the storm hit, I remember watching a whole stand of trees blow down in the distance. We all jumped into the “crummy” and headed for town. Along the way, we had to stop and cut up trees that had fallen across the road. We thought it was exciting, but we were all about 18 years old and were glad to get off work early.

It was something to experience, but I wouldn’t want to do it again. I always wondered if it was a tornado or a hurricane. I have never heard officially what it was.

Dave Mullins
Vancouver, WA

I was at my dad’s farm in Hockinson and watched as the wind demolished the barn. My brother Ted and I walked down the road to our Grandfather’s farm and his large barn had also been destroyed.

Ever since that terrible day in 1962 I have had a deathly fear of the damage a windstorm can cause.

John Talvitie
Long Beach Wa.

I was a senior at Linfield College in McMinville OR.

Nearly all of the male students went out on relief efforts under the direction of the county sheriffs office. I personally was involved in a detail that was sent to the local private airfield to attempt to secure small planes being blown over on their backs in the wind.

It was definitely a memorable night!!!!

Lonnie Johnson

I was at home in Fern Prairie north of Camas. I was on the phone with a girlfriend. I was in the 7th grade. She screamed that her shed just blew away, as a huge douglas fir across the road at my house blew down. Then the phone went dead.

We were without electricity for over a week. My dad was really resourceful though, we cooked on the Coleman stove, hand pumped from the well. There were power lines down everywhere, so it was a couple of days before we could get down into town.

Susan Stevens

My memories are very clear on that day.

My mother, stepfather and twin brother were to drive to Seattle to visit my older brother, who lived there and work for Boeing. We left at about 5:30 pm from the Bonneville Power Admin building near Lloyd Center. It turned in to a night to remember. With trees falling and having to be re-routed time after time to avoid blocked roads. Roads blocked by fallen trees and downed power lines.

One memory in particular is sitting on the Nisqually bridge (it’s now the north bound bridge on I5) and the wind blowing so hard it lifted our car and rocked the car back and forth. Now this was not one of our present day light weight cars, but a 1963 Chevy Bel-air!

The next morning, after we finally made it to Seattle, my older brother took us to Lake Washington to visit the yacht basin and seeing the beautiful 6 meter boats with their masts broken and tangled.

Thomas W. Pemberton

I was ten years of age and our family was driving from Blaine to Vancouver to visit my grandparents, Hershal and Ivy McDowell in the Salmon Creek area off of 72nd Ave.

The storm was raging pretty strong by the time we got to the Seattle area. I vividly recall seeing trees falling over like matchsticks on the hills along HW99 through the Olympia and Ft. Lewis area. Bridges had trees over them and traffic moved at a crawl. It took us twice as long to make the trip as it normally would have.

When we arrived in the Centralia area, all the electricity was out and you could not tell that you were driving through a city. At that point, we also entered the eye of the hurricane and there wasn’t a breeze in the air. As we continued south, the storm resumed and continued all the way to Vancouver. Once we got off the highway and started to make our way East to my grandparents’, we found nearly every road blocked by trees. Power lines were down across the roads and arcing; we drove over countless live power lines, knowing that as long as no part of our vehicle was grounded, it would be save.

It took a long time to find passable roads, but within a mile of my grandparents’ home, we were once again stopped by fallen trees. My father went to the home of a friend, who cut up the trees with his chain saw so we could continue to my grandparents’. There we remained without electricity for over a week.

Fortunately, my grandfather still heated his house with a wood burning stove and he had a Coleman lantern. The next morning, we dug a hole in the garden and used it all week as a cooler for perishable foods. For young kids, the terrifying night of the storm, segued into a week of fun as we learned to live without electricity and running water.

We had plenty of time to check out the community and see the thousands of uprooted trees and collapsed barns. You can still find trees today throughout Washington and Oregon that are still lying where they fell from that storm.

My father had to return to Blaine soon after the storm to return to work. My mother, brother and I returned on the train about a week later, after the tracks had been cleared of trees and debris.

Dan Evans

I was 7, living in Orchards when the Columbus Day Storm hit.

I can still remember the wind gusts, and how my mom was so upset because she wasn’t home when we got let out of school and I went down the road to a friends house.

Coming back home, the wind was almost lifting me off of my feet. However, one of the most memorable parts of that storm was how we were without power for almost two weeks. My dad took our boat down to Ilwacco every summer and returned it back to Vancouver in the early fall. We had a deep freezer full of salmon that year and because of the power outage we had to take it to our back field and get rid of it.

We also “camped out” and went to my Grandmother’s house in Portland to take baths. I remember it as a time of adventure — but I’m sure my parents thought otherwise.

Lin Whitney

I was a senior at Providence Academy at the time. I remember how yellow the air looked as the storm approached.

I had a date that night and got a call from my boyfriend suggesting we take a “wind check” on the evening’s outing. We joked about the things we were watching fly by outside our homes. When the lights went out, my mother used the fireplace to finish cooking dinner.

What a way to finish high school.

Barbara Majewski
Greendale, Wisconsin

I was 8 years old and there are a few vivid memories I have about it…

My sister and I watching our favorite cherry tree blow down next to our house, never again to be climbed.

My mom and her 4 kids huddling in a dark inside hallway away from all the windows. The youngest of us was an infant. My dad was away on a hunting trip.

For days the stores in town (Ridgefield) were giving away all their ice cream (as it was melting anyway), to the delight of all the children!

Mom making clam chowder in a pot in our fireplace. I can still taste the ashes that made it into the soup!

Kay Richardson

Our family lived in Minnehaha where most property owners at that time had at least an acre and a half. Full of trees, Black and English walnuts, huge trees towering almost 80 feet, many firs, old filberts and prune trees, and quite a number of outbuildings.

I was twelve and a Columbian carrier at the time. After our dismissal from school, I still had the route to do, and boy, was it an adventure. I used a bicycle on my route, and pedaling against the wind, with a full-load of papers was hard. Yet the winds made it so invigorating and exciting.

With the wind at my back it was if I, too, was flying through the air, the hills no longer a challenge.

The brunt of the storm didn’t hit until later that evening, scaring most in our family, and our elderly neighbors almost to the point of giddiness. My dad raised a Black Angus each year, and the storm came at a time when we had both a bull ready for slaughter and a calf in waiting. Nobody was concerned for the animals, the adults having decided to wait out the storm in our neighbor’s basement, so I decided to leave the comfort of the fireplace and headed for the barn.

Trees had already started to lay over, the huge walnuts missing the barn and shop by mere feet. I found the cattle hunkered down in the barn, the calf scared but the bull not at all distressed by the howl of the wind around him. I comforted the calf for a while, listening to the branches breaking, the ripping sound of the roofing being systematically removed. But most of all I listened to the creaks and groans of the large trees as they swayed in the strength of the storm.

I returned to the neighbor’s house only to hear a storm louder than the one outside, questioned as to my sanity, if I had given any thought as the danger, etc. We eventually all settled into sleep in front of the glow of the fireplace, the storm still raging, screaming at the top of its lungs.

When I awoke the next morning and went outside it was most disorienting, for the landscape had changed. We had lost six of our walnut trees, behemoths standing sixty to eighty feet tall, debris from faraway houses lying about the property, but our house and out-buildings were still standing. Right off our back steps was a huge walnut, some five-feet in diameter. It had withstood the effects of the wind but what a tale it told.

The previous year my father had poured a concrete patio around the old tree, leaving six feet of dirt exposed for moisture, nutrients, and, in keeping with my mother’s wishes, flowers. The old tree, held in place by the concrete, had swayed so much in the wind that there were half-inch cracks in the soil. It was only then that I came to fully-appreciated Mother Nature’s power, and the danger that had been all around us the night before.

Seven years later I would experience a typhoon in Viet Nam, witnessing the wind blow a jeep as if it were a toy. While those around me cowered and cringed from the power of the storm, I was reminded of a time long ago, and a home so faraway, and didn’t feel quite so alone, even if it was but for a little while.

Rick Boyd

Very interesting reading your reader’s comments about that tremendous storm.

I had gotten off from work in the US Court House in downtown Portland and waiting for the Sellwood bus at 3rd and Salmon St. The air was strangely quiet — no wind. On the bus as we went on the Hawthorne Bridge the whole bus and the bridge itself shook with the first gusts of wind. By time we were on Hawthorne Blvd trees already were flying and the bus had to take a round about route to get to Westmoreland (where I lived).

From my home on bluff overlooking the Oaks Bottom area I watched the roof of the Oregon Yacht Club’s clubhouse go airborne out over the river eventually breaking up like kindling.

I was lucky and had an emergency generator at home and was able to keep refrigerator cold for the several days we had no power. Many people were not so lucky, but our new home (only 4 months old at that time) survived the storm without damage.

Now of resident of the Big Island of Hawaii we may occasionally be subject to a hurricane but so far here in Kona it is a wonderful climate with temperature in the 80’s every day.

Ronald D. Mayer

I was in the seventh grade, and we were all sent home early from Beach elementary. I lived in the old overlook area at the time. The southward walk home up the hill, was very weird and scary. There was very tall huge trees along the sidewalks in front of everyone’s homes. They were all swaying and branches were flying up the streets.

When we got home, all six of us kids, and my mother, sat in our kitchen watching large things, trees, garbage cans, even a dog, go flying by the dinning room window.

My dad said it was the safest place in our house to be, No wind ward windows or trees too close to that room. My father was a Portland Policeman at the time, and was on duty. So he was gone during most of the storm, helping to keep the peace on old Union Ave.

I remember that my mother had put a turkey in the oven that morning, before we left for school….so when we lost our electricity….well, it had not quite finished cooking. I remember that she had an ipithiney at the time, and she cut and lit a bunch of candles, and put them in the bottom of the oven, under the turkey. Eventually it did cook…..But boy…..was the to clean. It was like camping out sorta, only messier.

I don’t think anyone will ever forget that storm, as it weakened alot of the trees that year. Then we had the great ICE storm a few months later in Feb, and more trees fell to the enormous weight of all that ice.

WOW, what a fall and winter we had!

Judith Marshall

Yes I remember that day I was in the 4th grade at Sifton Ele. My folks lived at 131st and 4th plain. At the height of the storm.

I was doing my home work in my bedroom. Mom was at work at Crown Zee in Camas and Dad was in Vancouver. Ray Rodgers our neighbor across the street came to check on my sisters and I. When the front door opened a vacuum happened and blew both windows out of my room. Luckily our neighbor grabbed me as I was standing in the doorway he pulled me in the front room and grabbed the door slamming it shut.

In 1976 I remember camping on Spirt Lake and seeing there in the Camp ground a nature trail with wind blown trees and a sign there stating trees blown down by the Columbus Day Storm Oct.12th 1962. I was also fortunate to meet Harry Truman at this time on the lake I also got a private tour by this man of the tour boats that were in a boat house there on the lake they were solid Philippine Mahogany. Many things have changed in Vancouver since I was there, born July 23rd 1953 and departed Vancouver in ’77. Today during the times of rolling blackouts here in Calif. I tell my kids about the Columbus Day storm when we were with out power almost 2 weeks, at that time it just wasn’t lights out, it was also electric to power our water well in the Sifton/Orchards area where city water had not been in use yet.

Thanks for the Thoughts
Douglas J. Trammell

I was eight years old when the storm hit. I was living with my parents,six brothers and sisters in a large, 3-story house in Tacoma, Washington.

I remember playing outside until Mom made me come in, because she was afraid a storm was brewing. As I stood on the front porch of the house, I saw a man trying to battle the fierce wind as he walked on the sidewalk. One moment he was there, fighting with all his might, the next, the wind picked him up and he was gone. I ran terrified, inside the house.

This vision has haunted me all my life. Finally I went to the Public Library and looked up info on this Columbus Day Storm. The wind was so strong, it very well could have picked a man up just as I’d witnessed. I wish we had another storm like that one. I have a phobia about it. I have candles all over the house, flashlights, etc.

Do you think we’ll ever see another storm as strong as that one? And does anybody know exactly what that was? Tail end of a tornado? What???

– Anonymous


I was 7 years old. There were 6 kids plus my mom and dad living in an old 2 story house with many trees all around us.

I remember bringing all our mattresses downstairs to sleep in the livingroom because my mom said, “If my babies die in this storm, I’m going to die with them”. I was so scared.

The wind was so fierce my dad could lean against the wind with his outstretched palm.

A few days later I remember seeing the damage in Evergreen Park on 4th Plain with all the trees blown down, and a house across the street from it had a tree fallen right through the middle. I prayed no one died in that house.

It was quite the adventure for a 7 year old for a couple of weeks, I hope I never have to experience it again.

Sue Nevitt-Marlette
Life long resident of Vancouver for 45 years


We lived in McMinville Ore, I was 2 yrs old.

Mom told me they had a 2 story house. The storm blew out a window in the upstairs bedroom. Mom said dad got up on a ladder and nailed a board over the hole. Dad said he had a dickens of a time getting that board nailed but he made it.

Joann Solum

I was a young married private in the army at Fort Lewis in Tacoma. I lived in apartment off base and woke up in middle of night to water pouring in from our ceiling. Everything got soaked.

I got up and went to Ft. Lewis at daylight to discover a disaster. The base was a shambles.

There were 20,000 soldiers stationed there at the time and we all worked 3 full weeks just cleaning up blown down trees on the base. Winds were clocked at 120 mph and the base showed it.

Later in life I experienced several typhoons on the island of Okinawa but nothing ever compared to the Columbus Day Storm.


I was 6 years old and we lived in Hazel Dell. I remember playing outside and the wind was really blowing. I think I was really impressed when a contractor construction shack was blown over.

I remember my mom yelling at me to come into the house and that I had to stay in the basement with my mom and my 2 younger brothers. My dad was at work in Portland and I remember the power had gone out. It was so dark and we didn’t have any candles.

I remember that our neighbor from across the street had come over to take us to his house. He had to carry me and my mom carried my 2 brothers to keep from being blown away. We stayed there for several hours and then returned to our house after the wind died down.

We had only lost a few shingles but the neighbors house right next to us had lost there entire roof and it had blown over to a vacant lot.

At 6 years old this was really impressive event in my life. I also remember that all the neighbors came together to help each other and that was really cool.

I live in Woodland, Washington now and I remember that same community spirit after the great flood of 1996. There are a lot of good people out there.

Scott Peabody

I was living in Camas Washington at the time of the Columbus day storm. I was 10 yrears old and I remember it very well.

I had never experienced anything like it before or since and it is still vivid in my memory. I was outside playing in the yard with my friends when the wind began to pick up in late afternoon.

I remember standing on a large stump in the yard and the wind actually blew me off of it. I stayed outside for a while enjoying the experience but my mother soon called me into the house as she was getting worried about the strong wind.

I remember the house feeling like it was swaying in the wind all night long. I could actually feel the house in motion. The next morning I awoke and went outside to find several fruit trees uprooted and some with large branches broken off.

In the next couple of days I roved about the town and was absolutely amazed at the damage done by the storm. At Crown Park there were a large number of huge Douglas firs that were blown completely down. The park before the storm was nearly forest like with the amount of trees. After the storm this had completely changed with large open spaces where the trees once stood.

I tried to walk down a pathway in the forest to my favorite fishing hole and was met with large trees laying across the pathway. I managed to climb over them but the ol trail would never be the same.

The Evergreen highway between Camas and Vancouver was closed for several days because of large trees that had fallen across the road and they had to be cleared. I can honestly say that it changed the look of our town with the amount of trees that blew down during that storm. I will never forget it.

Sam Triplett

I was 3 years old.

The whole family which consisted of my 2 older brothers, and Mom and Dad.

We were home riding the storm out. We lived in the Lieser Road Heights area, where Mom and Dad still reside today. Mom warned me not to get to close to a lit candle, but, you know how that goes with a 3 year old.

I ended up catching my hair on fire. So, while my little blonde bangs were sizzling away, Mom, in her infinite wisdom, smacked me across the head. Thus, putting out the fire, and invoking a very strong memory that has lasted through the years.

Lisa McDonnell-Stanczak

I was heading home. I worked at Totem building supplies. It was across from Fred Meyers before Fred Meyer was there.

I got as far as Gail Marshals house when a patio roof flew out in the middle of the street. I got out of my pickup and was setting on the roof in the middle of the street.

Mr. Marshal came out of his house and set on the roof with me. About that time a lot of 3 tab roofing came flying at us. I said to Mr. Marshal this does not look good. But when I turned around Mr. Marshal was gone.

I jumped up and got the hell out of there to. I could tell you a lot more.

W Smith

In 1962 I was 4 years old. My parents were deaf mutes. We were living in Lebanon, Oregon. I remember sitting down to dinner when the power went out. I don’t remember why mom and dad decided to go out that evening but i do remember the winds blowing against me very hard. I then turned to my dad remembering we had some difficulties in getting my kite up back in the spring and asked dad if we could pull the kite out and try it now. I am sure he thought I was crazy.

That evening after dark, the wind howled and the thunder and lightening was tremendous. Could not sleep at all with all that going on. By morning, I looked outside and saw our neighbors trees had up rooted.

They were very large trees. Remember now being 4 everything was big. We went for a drive and I remembered seeing the destruction in town. Some buildings were demolished and the roofs were missing from so many buildings. Power poles were down. There was debris every where of homes and trees. I guess thinking about it now we were very lucky to come through that storm.

Ever since then I have been in awe of the destructive power of storms. I purposely look forward to storms. I even as an adult will drive to Florence, Oregon and rent a room at Driftwood Shores, a hotel on the beach in Florence, and watch the storms come in.

I currently live in Hawaii now and I guess what has me thinking of that storm now is that Hurricane Daniel is headed our way. I am prepared and looking forward to it. It will be the second hurricane in my life I will be part taking in. I know this sounds selfish on my part and I do not wish for anyone who has or will suffer some type of hardship. But I truly hope this storm does not weaken.

There are plenty of hurricane parties going on now in Waikiki but I am not that crazy to venture out into a storm when it comes.

I would be very interested on hearing any stories that anyone has to say about the Columbus Day Storm.

Aloha and many Mahalo’s
Rod Blaylock

I remember the howling wind, that my Mom and Dad got out the camp stove to cook dinner and I didn’t like the idea that I had to have a candle to see where I was going in the house. But of course not to many 5-year-olds care for the dark!

Diane Gibson

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