Wind

Posted by Ken Campbell May 5, 2009 1 Comment 659 views

Here in the Pacific Northwest we call them “wind storms,” which seems a little redundant to me. And completely inadequate. I mean, all storms come with a little wind. Up here, the wind is what our storms are made of, what they are. Our wind, when it really gets to flying around, has substance, heft, mass.

On January 29, 1921, a massive storm struck the Northwest coast. Hurricane force winds bombarded the shoreline from Central Oregon to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Back in this faraway time, when everything about peninsula life revolved around logging, about getting out the cut, the Forest Service estimated that total loss of standing timber was several billion board feet. Roads were closed by countless fallen trees. Storm damage in some places, like Hoquiam and Forks, was significant and costly. An article that appeared in the following day’s papers came out of hard-hit Aberdeen: “Telephone and telegraph wires out of here were all prostrated by the gale, one of the most violent in years. Communication with the outside world was not restored until today.”

Winds in North Head, near the mouth of the Columbia River, were clocked at 92-106 mph before the anemometer was destroyed. Estimates for gusts during that time were 120 mph, at least. At the weather station out on Tatoosh Island, winds hovered in the mid 80’s, with peak gusts around 108 mph. Those are legitimate hurricane numbers there, Cat 2 and Cat 3 storms.

It’s windy out there today too. Nothing like it was on January 29, 1921, or during so many other Northwest storms, but the forecast is calling for sustained winds of 60 mph on the Washington coast. It’s supposed to blow about 25 mph here in the south Sound; I can hear the trees outside gnashing already.

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